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on 3 June 2006
It's late at night. The driver of an empty bus stops at a cemetery to pick up a single passenger, a lady in traditional Japanese dress. As he starts driving again she asks, "Do you want to hear a scary story?" He ignores her. She asks again: "Do you want to hear a scary story?" He realises he has no choice.

Dark Tales of Japan collects five short horror tales, with a few linking "gags". They seem to have been taken off a TV program, as the picture is often of video rather than film quality. But as long you don't expect anything too slick, and as long as you like Asian horror, you should find something to your taste.

In The Spiderwoman, a journalist working for a sensationalist magazine investigates the urban myth of a woman who turns into a monstrous spider at night, and of course gets a little closer to the truth than he wanted. This isn't the best of the tales on the disc, as the various versions of the urban myth confuse and diffuse the final horror.

Crevices is more minimal. A landlord calls in the friend of one of his tenants who has disappeared. Inside, the flat is plastered in thick red tape, covering up every crack and crevice. This one's too short to really build up a mood, but it doesn't outstay its welcome and is one of the most focused on the DVD. Enjoyable enough.

The Sacrifice has the best image in the collection: an enormous demonic head that suddenly appears in the corner of a room. The story itself is a little too confused for the short format, mixing two ideas (how a mother can sacrifice herself to save her daughter from a curse, and how a young woman is stalked by a black magic-obsessed loner) rather than concentrating on one.

Blonde Kwaidan is, I'd guess, the collection's attempt to win over the Western audience by being set in Hollywood. The title, of course, makes reference to another collection of Japanese filmic horror. It didn't really build up the mood it needed for the final horror to be really effective, but it wasn't too bad.

The final story, Presentiment, was the most original tale, and the most effective. I won't give away the plot, as the tale hinges on you finding out what's going on, but I'll just say that most of the drama takes place with the main character stuck in a lift with three rather odd characters.

None of the tales are masterpieces, but if you're a hardened B-movie watcher you'll know how to overlook the duff moments and get the most out of the bits that work.
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on 21 October 2008
It was a bit of gamble buying this, but it turned out okay. It's essentially a collection of stories from some kind of Japanese Horror Anthology series. Kinda like their equivalent to the Twilight Zone. It's a bit low budget but has surprising moments of great suspense. My favourite being the simple chilling tale 'Crevices' about a man afraid of something in his room that he can't see. The 'Spider Woman' also delivers a nice shiver or two as a reporter learns the truth about a local urban legend. All in all this little collection is well worth watching, especially if you love Japanese ghost stories.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 October 2009
Boring and unscary set of made for tv yarns from Japan over five stories of increasing tedium. First a woman who can transform into a spider and walk out of her local restaurant without paying. No fear there is a magazine reporter on her trail but can he overcome the terrifying 'sticky slippers' he is given to wear? If he can only make it down the corridor whilst avoiding sticking to the floor, repelling the spiderwoman by saying 'hornet' three times. Does he make it?? Your life will be none the poorer for never knowing.
Yarn 2. A chap covers his flat in red tape to keep 'them' out. Over before it starts.
3. Hapless tale of how first a grandmother then later a mother who for unspecified reasons die on behalf of their offspring, featuring an enormous rubber head for added chills.
4. A Japanese man in Hollywood captivated by all the blondes stays at an associates house alone only for lots of blonde hair and an overmade up face to emerge from the bed (which of us can say we haven't experienced this terror first-hand) a scream and that's that one ticked off.
Last and equally least a man steals some data from his company but becomes trapped in a lift with three other static characters who are ghosts. Unsubtle and pointless. These are all linked together by a fundamentally dishonest old woman on a bus who prefixes this rubbish by asking 'Do you want to hear a scary story?' and then proceeds to give us this!
It has the feel of one of those irritating after school programmes they used to show. Meritless.
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on 31 March 2006
Absolutely dreadful. I love Japanese horror but this is a complete waste of money. Not scary, interesting or visually arresting (looks like children shot it for a project). I promise you that you'll be bored the first time around and will NEVER watch it again.
No matter how curious you are DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME!
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on 5 November 2013
An anthology of five J-Horror shorts from some of the genres best known directors tied together by a rather shaky bridge narrative. It was made for TV so has a cheapo realistic shot-on-video charm that works in its favour occasionally. As you’d expect it’s hit and miss in the story department but the eerie audio is of a high standard for this kind of production.
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on 16 April 2009
A collection of short ghost stories without much horror effect and only average acting performances.
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