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Archive for January 8th, 2013

Karaoke Terror (2003)

Karaoke Terror

aka The Complete Japanese Showa Songbook

In Chofu (a suburb of Tokyo), a gang of young idle slackers waste their time hanging out doing nothing. Their main passion in life is recreating their favourite Showa-era songs from the 40’s to the 80’s at an abandoned pier at night or watch their female neighbour dance naked in her apartment. Across the city a group of middle aged divorced women who go by the name of Midoris due to each of them having the name Midori are basically doing the same thing. When one of the young slackers Sugioka tries to pick up one of the Midoris whilst she’s walking home and is rejected he kills her by slashing her across the throat with a large knife. Through some detective work by the grieving Midoris as Sugioka has dropped something at the scene of the crime, they are able to track him down. Thus begins a tit-for-tat revenge war between the two gangs with each killing becoming bigger and more extreme starting with knives and escalating to a spear, guns, a rocket launcher and finally….well I don’t want to spoil that for you!! Will anybody from the two gangs survive?

This is a delightful dark satirical comedy which starts with a nasty gruesome murder that triggers a tale of revenge between two factions. The title is a bit misleading as it tends to make you think this is going to be a horror movie set in a karaoke bar. This is a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously at all because if you do I don’t think you’ll enjoy it that much. the story also offers an interesting Japanese social commentary on friendship, loyalty, divorced middle aged women and the gender gap. Although you might think these two diverse groups are different to each other they are quite similar due to the fact that they feel they’re being neglected by society. The only way they can express their feelings is by singing their favourite songs although the young boys do it better than the women as they go the whole hog and dress up like the artists whose songs they enjoy. You only have to witness the boys performing in drag which reminded me of Dr Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The acts of violence by each group gets more preposterous as the movie wears on and you keep thinking to yourself how is it all going to end. The final weapon used in the movie has to be seen to be believed! We are talking about taking revenge to the ultimate level here! Although the deaths on display are very brutal you are more likely to laugh than be shocked by it all. There’s a mixture of CG and traditional effects for the killings and there’s plenty of gore with gushing blood in the first two deaths. The second death features Sugioka being speared by one of the Midoris on a motorbike whilst he is urinating against a wall. Seeing him collapse with blood pouring from his throat but also still spurting out urine is funny. Many though will not see the humour in it all and find it a bit cruel. One of the highlights with the comedy aspect of the movie is when the boys travel across a river to buy a gun from a shop. The shopkeeper there is willing to sell a gun to them but wants to know why. When they explain the situation to him, the man goes on a tirade against middle aged women saying they are ruining the country and that in the event of an apocalypse the only ones left alive will be cockroaches and middle aged women! The main characters are all an interesting bunch but it’s two of the supporting characters that stand out the most – one being the shopkeeper and the other is a strange female university student that inadvertently helps both groups out in their quest to hunt each other down. The songs that provide the soundtrack to the movie which are sung by both groups aren’t ones that I was  really familiar with but then again I’m more into J-pop from the last 15 or so years.

Karaoke Terror screenshot.php

Those who love original off-the-wall Japanese dark comedies will find a lot to like in this movie. I know I certainly did. There’s plenty of mirth to be had in watching two groups suddenly finding meaning in their otherwise dull lives and planning out their method of revenge on each other. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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