Director: Shin’ya Tsukamoto
Hiruko the Goblin is an obscure Japanese film that’s sure to give you demented gore fans something to cheer about and plenty of nightmares to stew over. With a healthy obsession for decapitations and demented humor, this wacky flick pushes the boundaries on sensible filmmaking and follows in the traditions of such off the wall movies like House, Horror of a Deformed Man, and Tetsuo. If you’re in the need for something completely manic and want a film that is unlike anything you’ve seen before, than give this one a watch. Just look out for the spider demons!
The film follows the unlikely pairing of Hieda Reijirou, a mourning archaeology professor, and Masao Yabe, a young student who just so happens to be going to a school that has recently been plagued by a rogue demon named Hiruko. This little spider-like bastard relishes in chopping off the heads of anyone who gets in its way and he uses these new-found heads to plant on himself and the rest of his demonic brethren. With the gates of hell threatening to burst, Hieda and Masao band together in order to stop this strange menace from escaping and pouring in to the realm of the living. Can they save the world from a demon apocalypse? Damn, I hope so.
Kenji Sawada plays the role of archaeology professor Hieda Reijirou, a clumsy but heroic man who’s haunted by the memories of his dearly departed wife. Sawada does a great job in making the character entertaining and he’s also able to bring a heavy comedic tone to the role. He is almost constantly aloof, tripping over things and barely escaping with his life on several occasions, but it is his accident prone persona that makes him so sympathetic and engaging. Armed to the teeth with demon fighting gadgets, it’s a blast to see Hieda reluctantly take these baddies on, even if most of the time he ends up running in the opposite direction of said demon.
Masaki Kudou takes on the character of Masao Yabe, the young student who has a strange connection with all that is currently going on in the film. Inflicted by a strange burning deformation on his skin whenever Hiruko the Goblin claims a victim’s head, Masao often serves as a visual indicator on where Hiruko is and if he’s taken another life of one of the students on the school’s grounds. Unlike Hieda, Masao is a more coordinated hero, even arming himself with a chainsaw in order to keep the foul demon at bay. His role is especially interesting, because he must come face to face with a few dead friends and acquaintances whose heads have been stolen by the grotesque spider-like demons. There are some tremendously haunting moments in the film where a face will pop out from the darkness only to later reveal a pair of hairy spidery legs carrying it forward in creepy, yet comical fashion. Masaki handles these off-setting situations with some of the most terrified and overacted performances to ever grace a cinematic film, giving the movie a strange combination of surreal horror and unabashed silliness.
This blending of horror and comedy is what makes the film so unusually enjoyable. There seems to be a great deal of borrowing from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2, where the film’s atmosphere is able to juggle both comedic moments and horror induced mayhem and still be able to make it feel connected and part of the same whole. Not many films can handle this kind of constant balancing act, but Hiruko the Gobin does it with ease. The cinematic world that director Shin’ya Tsukamoto has brought to the screen, really does feel like a lived in but weird place. The presence of spider like demons feels natural and the fact that the movie is void of people other then the few main characters that pop up from time to time, doesn’t feel out of place in the slightest. In fact, the strange lack of characters almost makes the film seem like a dream that only Hieda and Masao are sharing. The nightmarish landscape that the filmmakers where able to pull off with this film is one of the main drawing points of what makes this movie work.
When it comes to old school special effects, Hiruko the Goblin has that base covered. With a large amount of practical effects and buckets of blood, the crew must have had a blast with all the gushing and gore spilling moments. The decapitations run wild in this flick, and the effects also take a few more familiar cues from Raimi’s Evil Dead universe, with bodies being separated from heads leaving the blood soaked torsos to convulse and twitch in unnatural, but comical motions. It’s the classic case of over the top violence played for comedic value and the movie does a stupendous job at bringing the ridiculousness to the horrific moment at hand. With its fun approach and even crazier execution, Hiruko the Goblin adds up to a unique and fun ride that never shies away from the gore.
Hiruko the Goblin is a wicked film that pushes the boundaries of good taste, making for an entertaining ride. The main actors are perfect in their roles and each character brings a unique flavor to the overall story. The demons of the piece are especially horrendous, using their fallen victim’s heads for their own sick and twisted means. There’s nothing creepier then seeing an innocent young girl’s face slapped onto the back of a grotesque spider, and the filmmakers use every opportunity in showcasing this horrible fact again and again.
The inclusion of the practical effects that abound in this film is what really makes it a gem of a movie. Everything has that special kind of quality to it that gels so well over the entire production. For a film that is as off the wall as this one, you really don’t come across any moments that feel like they don’t belong. The combination of all the strange elements are jam packed together so perfectly and they compliment each other so well, that the end result is something of an obscure wonder. A good majority of the things you see on screen will shock and amaze you, making you pinch yourself in order to confirm that what you’re seeing is real and not a fabrication of your own sick and twisted mind. This is exactly what Japanese horror has been known for, for quite some time and I’m glad that the tradition has carried on long enough to infect this production with its unbridled outlook on the loopier side of horror. Hiruko the Goblin is a…..
|Well hello there everyone. Enjoy the movie.|
|I think I just pooped my pants.|
|Here comes Mr. Cool.|
|Nothing good can come from this bloody room.|
|Spiders with human faces?!?! Yep it says it right here in the script.|
|You disgust me.|
|This is one piano lesson that you might want to skip.|
|Now you stay inside that box and think about what you did.|
|Those are some pretty hardcore tattoos you got going on there boy.|
|I can see my demon infested school from here.|
|We're gonna need some air freshner kid, cause these demons smell like shit.|
|Do you believe this shit?!?!|
|It's so grotesque, yet I can't look away.|
|I don't know whether I should laugh my ass off or start shitting my pants.|
|Are you ready to ROCK!|
|Looks like Masao has fallen in with that Dungeons and Dragons crowd again.|
|Ok.... Now I'm official freaked out.|
|What is this, the sequel to the Abyss?!?!|
|What zany adventures will he get into next?|