FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Mar 1, 2010

Film Club: Uzumaki

True (and possibly gross) story: A long time ago in a galaxy...well, in this galaxy, I lived with someone. One fine evening this so-called Co-Habi-Tron 2000 got a stomach bug and barfed. Barfed on the way to the bathroom. Now, I've not had a stomach bug since 1st grade and I've never had food poisoning. I'm not a vomiter, unless...yes, there have been some alcohol-related times but what can you do? I live on the edge, and I always fight for my right to party.


Anyway, this sudden display of not being in control of one's body completely freaked me out. It broke my brain. Really. I became paranoid about catching the stomach bug. I spent the next 2 weeks fixated on perceived feelings of nausea: "Am I gonna throw up? Am I gonna...yes, I think...ohh...I', never mind." I never got that bit of flu (awesome) and I never barfed, but no matter: as I said...brain broken. I got paranoid about eating in restaurants for fear of food poisoning. As everyone else in the world has had it at one time or another, I grilled everybody: What's it like? How did you know you had it? How long did you have it? Where did you eat? Whenever someone at work said he had the "flu", I had to ask if it was a cold or a puke thing. I couldn't watch anyone barfing in movies or shows or what have you.

I don't know why it happened or why it continued so long. It was ridiculous. Then all of a sudden I was better. Brains are funny that way, I guess.

Another true (less gross, more juvenile) story: There is an office building along the highway near my hometown that has windows on one side laid out like this:

To me, this place has become known as The Tit Building. Generally people don't know what building I'm talking about when I mention it as a point of reference...but I cannot unsee the word "TIT" spelled out in its windows. It baffles me that it got past the blueprint stage.

I tell you these two anecdotes not simply because my life is so incredibly! I tell you because both anecdotes came to mind while I was watching Uzumaki (2000), the tale of a small Japanese town that falls under the curse of the vortex.

It all starts innocently enough. People "act a bit funny". A man spends several hours quietly videotaping the swirl of a snail's shell. Soon enough, however, many of the citizens of Kurouzu are completely obsessed with the vortex pattern- like, obsessed to the point that they begin to harm themselves in some incredibly grotesque ways. Everywhere they look, they see the spirals. Their brains are broken by the curse, and the only hope, it seems, is to remove all signs of the spiral from their environment. That sounds easy enough, but ask yourself this: is a life without Pecan Spins a life worth living?

Uzumaki starts out as a bit of a kooky fairy tale; the music is exceedingly incongruous with the action, and it almost plays as a horror-comedy. By the time the words "There is still a spiral in your ear..." are spoken, however, it crosses over into the land of dread and mindfuckery. In a word, it's creepy.

None of it is really explained, so you're going to be left with questions in the end, like: Why is the town cursed, exactly? do people turn into giant snails...? But this is an imaginative, bizarre just take the ride kind of horror film, and as such it's both unsettling and entertaining. The idea that thoughts can become obsessive to the point where they lead you to break as many of your own bones as possible- and you think it's a capital plan- is truly terrifying. I'm glad I got over my weird puke obsession when I did.

Yes yes, I'm sure Junji Ito's manga that provides the basis for this film is better than the film itself. I've never read it, although I know I should. And I will, one of these days. You don't need to remind me, Bossy!

Film Club Coolies, y'all!
Parry Game Preserve
In One Ear...
Sinema Obscura
The Horror Section
Va's The Cinema Experience
The United Provinces of Ivanlandia
Pussy Goes Grrr


Andre Dumas said...

I can totally relate to you on the puke fear. I suffered a bit of an anxiety disorder after being thrown up on in a car. I even had to leave college for a few weeks because I was so terrified of throwing up! It was the worst. Puke is the worst. And till this very day I will punch/ get very angry when someone throws up.

Anonymous said...

This was a trippy movie. I am glad I saw it, even though I thought it was a bit of a jumbled mess.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thom, it is a bit of a mess...but it's so strange and wonderful that I don't really care. If only they'd explained a liiiiiittle bit more about the curse, I'd have felt better.

FINALLY someone can relate to my sudden onset of puke-a-phobia! Thank you. I seriously think it's some form of PTSD or the like...which sounds a bit exaggerated, but it seriously consumed my thoughts for a long time. IT WAS WEIRD. I tried to desensitize myself by doing things like watching a bit of the trailer for Slaughtered Vomit Dolls (don't do it) and trying to read up on what the fuck my problem was...then it went away.

I mean, I don't LIKE puke. But I can deal. :)

7tavern admin said...
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spazmo said...

Aargghh. Been trying to find this for ages without any luck. The fact that I now know its actual name, instead of the imaginary name ("Spirals") I've been attributing to it, should help me tremendously. Great reviews, you guys!

Jason said...

It's been a while since I watched this movie, but from what I recall it wasn't a jumbled mess at all and the reason for the curse was quite clear.

I guess I'll have to go back and watch it again now. Maybe I just hallucinated the ending?

Stacie Ponder said...

Jason, it's entirely possible that I missed an explanation. When I say say jumbled, I mean that there's a lot of questions left at the end (like, where did Kirie end up?).

goblin said...

The explanation is quite easy to miss, actually, and it's not so much an explanation as it's just a bunch of clues. If I remember correctly, it is implied that the source of the curse is an old shrine or temple beneath Dragonfly Pond where in ancient times, people would pray to some serpent god (a cousin of Dread Cthulhu maybe?). You learn all of this via the newspaper articles which the reporter reads through while he's at the library. Of course, in the manga, the spiral curse has quite a different origin story.

Timmy Crabcakes said...

I thought the movie was a pretty good take on the comic actually.
It really only covers about the first half of the series... but it pretty much sticks to the events.
If it feels like a 'jumbled mess' that's a leftover from the comic... which is very episodic in places and not one long logical build towards the conclusion. Very strange things happen and then seem to be forgotten until the next very strange thing comes along.

deadlydolls said...

Finaaaaaaaaaaally watched the DVD sitting on my shelf for what, a month and a half? And review is forthcoming. Eventually. Call me slacker.

Totally understand the fear-of-vomiting comment, as I went a full 11 years without letting anything out that way and recall, quite tragically, the day I realized that stretch was going to end. It was more horrifying than that time I turned into a giant snail.

Information Geek said...

I just got through watching this movie for my blog and holy crap was it... weird. I've read the original source material and I was willing to forgive the movie for not being a hundred precent accurate to it, but it really was just weird and bad. The story feel so cramped and probably would have worked better as a TV series like It. The acting was just downright laughable. The male lead had to be a robot! Special effects were alright and was occasionally creepy, but... sigh. So disappointing.

Nick Mullins said...

The acting in this movie was so bad I just couldn't get past it. I really recommend the comic. The second and third volumes are incredibly creepy.