The Grudge, Seed of Chucky

Seed of Chucky:

    This movie is just packed to the gills with the awesome. Jennifer Tilly is hilarious, John Waters gets his face melted off, and at this moment in time, I can't think of anything quite as funny as a plastic doll jerking off. "God bless the little people." Go see it immediately.
The Grudge:

    This was ok, but it had entirely too many spring-loaded cats, where nothing's actually going on, but they try to spook you with a flash and a loud noise anyway. This was a shame, because the movie did have some genuinely scary moments, and the fake scares really took away from that. Still, it was worth seeing.

    I felt like I'd seen it before, though: I saw a movie earlier this year at IndieFest called Inner Senses that was very, very similar, not only in plot, but in the whole look of the movie. I vaguely remembered hearing that The Grudge was a remake, and so by about halfway through, I was assuming it was a (dumbed-down) remake of Inner Senses -- but it turns out it's not, the original was called The Grudge too.

    It's also really an awful lot like The Ring. What is it with wide-eyed Japanese drowned-children vengance-ghosts? Not that I've got a problem with that, because they're super creepy, but they're fuckin' everywhere now! Is this some old cliché that has only just now been imported to the US market, or are drowned kids the new zombies?

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17 Responses:

  1. "spring-loaded cats" = doubleplusgood newspeak + yoink

  2. el_olvidado says:

    inner senses is horrible...chinese film with way too much cheesy melodrama. i don't see how you can compare the two.
    but yes we are being drowned in the japanese directed psych-horror-murderous ghost genre...
    kiyoshi kurosawa's movies are worth checking out if you get a chance.

    • jwz says:

      Come on, the plots were really similar: lonely girl sees ghosts, older wise-man (cop instead of shrink) doesn't believe it but ends up getting sucked in anyway, and assaulted by drowned bathtub corpse in a cursed house.

  3. drtesko says:

    Saw was so much better than The Grudge.

      • jkonrath says:

        Saw is one of those movies that is really worth seeing if you can sneak in for free, but that I couldn't honestly tell anyone to see for $10. The acting sucks, and it's a one-trick pony with a gimmick that is incomparable to other movies, but makes it more of a concept movie than an actual film. Casting Danny Glover as a policeman is about the stupidest casting decisions I've seen in years, as you spend most of the money wanting to yell "but I'm retiring in four days!" or "I'm too old for this shit!" at the screen. And there's not a lot of time spent dealing with secondary plots or anything; there's so much time spent in the main room that I seriously wondered if the thing was based on some college student's play. It takes itself too seriously in being creepy almost like it's a full-length version of a Tool video or something.

        Having said all of that, there were enough truly fucked up parts in the movie to make me feel like I got my money's worth. It's also worth it in that you'll spend the next couple of days talking to the person you saw it with about "buy what about the..." and "well, I would have..."

        The only other motivation I could give JWZ for stealing a VCD copy or something is that if you ever remodel your club or build another one or something, this thing is filled with ideas in the weirdo indusrial interior decorating department.

      • drtesko says:

        I never read movie critics' opinions of movies, I just go and see things that catch my interest via previews. I saw Saw, The Grudge and Day of the Dead at a drive in, in that order. 3 movies for $7. I enjoyed Saw much more, but I'm curious to see the japanese version of The Grudge as it may be much better.. or maybe not..

      • myd says:

        If you depend on the reviews, The Grudge comes off a lot worse

        • jwz says:

          I don't pay too much attention to reviews, but if anyone chooses to invoke "Fear Factor" when describing a movie, that's a pretty huge warning sign.

  4. 33mhz says:

    What is it with wide-eyed Japanese drowned-children vengance-ghosts?

    I dunno, but if there's one thing that The Ring and Fatal Frame has taught me, it's that if you ever see a little Japanese girl with long black hair covering her face and a white kimono, run the fuck away. 9 times of 10, they mean to do you supernatural harm.

  5. tyggerjai says:

    Hideo Nakata, who directed the japanese _Ring_ (1998), also directed a film called _Dark Water_ (2002), which also has a striking drowned-child similarity. Both were based on stories by Koji Suzuki, so it's not surprising.

    I recall from old Asian Studies courses that "drowned ghost" stories aren't entirely uncommon in Japan - in a country that's pretty much all coast, you get a lot of drowned people, so drowned ghost stories (and drowned ghosts seeking revenge) are as ubiquitous as mermaid stories in coastal Europe. The tradition of placing lanterns/candles on paper boats, for example, is supposed to lead the spirits of drowned relatives out to sea, where they can find peace. If you don't take steps to release the drowned spirits, they do hang around to bug you.

    So I think you have both - it's an old, old Japanese story, which has recently made it to film, and become a recognisable, exploitable genre like zombies. Part of that, I think, is that Nakata gave the "drowned ghost" an immediately recognisable form - just as all you need to do to invoke the zombie cliche is have a couple of shambling people with their arms stuck out, so Sadako became the "face" of ookyspooky drowned Japanese ghosts. And once you have that icon, the slide into cliche is much easier, of course. I suspect you'll find a fair few drowned ghost films from Japan before _Ringu_, but it takes that visual, emotional hook (and a fair amount of popularity) to go from genre to cliche. Then, all you need is a Hollywood in search of a new field, and the rest writes itself.


  6. kalephunk says:

    The Grudge is a remake of Ju-on. Just saw the latter last weekend, and it's scary as hell. Haven't seen the American The Grudge yet to compare, but there was just something about Ju-on that made it decidedly spooky and creepy. And no, no spring-loaded cats.

  7. nelc says:

    Drowned kids? It must be something profound to do with the effect of the high abortion rate in Japan on the Japanese psyche. Or maybe not.