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Undertaker - Archeron Pictures Print E-mail
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Written by Richard Taylor   
Saturday, 10 December 2016
Review of Naoyoski Kawamatsu's Undertaker (2012) on Severed Cinema

AKA: SŰginin Ė and‚teik‚, Souginin

Directed by: Naoyoski Kawamatsu
Written by: Naoyoski Kawamatsu
Produced by: Kikaru Hosoya
Cinematography by: Hajime Kanda
Editing by: Naoyoski Kawamatsu
Special Effects by: Akiteru Nakada, Misako Maeda
Music by: Masayoshi Tomura
Cast: Tomoka Asano, Yoshito Kobahigawa, Yuina Kumakura, Natsuki Minami, Shinta Souma
Year: 2012
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese (English Subtitles)
Color: Color
Runtime: 64min

Studio: Archeron Pictures

This Japanese undead piece, clocks in at just above an hour and is going to be given some new life with a re-release in 2016. There has been a bit of a buzz surrounding Undertaker, as we see from the promo stills that it looks like a world of crazy horror, which viewers have become accustomed to, with a lot of the off-the-wall material released from Japan. I'm here to tell you that itís actually not in the same vein of wild and wacky shit related to, say, the days of the CAT III releases, or stuff even in the general vicinity of Guinea Pig, or Tokyo Gore Police, or Machine Girl, and so on. Undertaker is actually a beautifully shot and surreal horror art piece which slowly unfolds on the screen.

We follow a young boy named Ryouichi (Shinta Souma) who is being evacuated from his flat along with others, during what seems to be an outbreak of sickness. Ryouichi's caregiver packs him and his friend Megumi (Yuina Kumakura) some things in a bag for their trip, and seemingly disappears as they too have become sick and decide to quietly and calmly stay behind. This is a scene which I felt was very powerful in its emotional delivery. Once the patrons get on the road, to get to a safe haven, it seems as if Megumi is already infected and the bus they are on crashes. Ryouichi wakes up to see people fleeing and Megumi in chase, she turns around and we see she has become overtaken by whatever sickness has enveloped society.

Ryouichi soon flees by himself, but meets up with an elderly lady named Tomoka (Tomoka Asano), who has made it her existence to track down those zombified, and decapitating them to put an end to their misery. Tomoka is hired by family members to track down their zombified kin, and lay them to rest. She is known as an undertaker. As an adult, Ryouichi (now played by Yoshito Kobashigawa) learns Tomoka's ways, and he too becomes schooled in the art of undertaking. Years pass and Tomoka has soon past as well, and Ryouichi is now an adult carrying on the undertaker tradition. Ryouichi is approached by a family to retrieve and put an end to their missing daughterís undead existence, so he suits up with his custom axe/shovel weapon and goes to a specific location to retrieve her.

Undertaker was not what I was expecting -- itís actually a very well laid out, emotional and straightforward story. It boasts some good make up effects, and solid performances but for the hour running time, I found it very slow in places. The lack of dialogue really doesn't help its cause. The film quality of Undertaker is pristine. Itís shot beautifully, and we embark on the emotions of the characters through facial expressions and actions. Shinta Souma does an excellent job playing Ryouichi, as a boy, and these sequences are my favorite in the movie. Itís a very heart felt and sincere performance. The movie is definitely a sad film. It does have some action in the conclusion -- when Ryouichi must dispose of the undead he encounters in an abandoned mall, but the gore is definitely not over-the-top, and is actually quite restrained. Some of the undead look and walk in a very cool fashion -- there is one zombie in particular who seems to be strangling himself. This character looked very effective.

Undertaker turns out to be a well-made, surprisingly tasteful and emotionally charged affair, with a brooding atmosphere and utter sense of despair. The life of an undertaker is one of isolation and lack of appreciation from society. Many thanks to Naoyoshi Kawamatsu for sending this my way, and I wish him much success with the film.

 

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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