Directed & Written by Shugo Fujii
Produced by Hitoshi Fujikura & Boo Motokawa
Cinematography by Kazuo Okuhara
Music by Koji Tabuchi
Cast: Hirohito Honda, Yoshiko Shiraishi, Rumi, Kazuo Yashiro, Naoko Mori, Shugo Fujii & Suwabe Hitoshi
2000/104 mins/Color/2.0 Dolby Surround
1.85:1/Japanese/Japan/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Subversive Cinema DVD
Things aren't easy for young Yasu (Hirohito Honda). He's living in a wheelchair and he's mentally ill. Still he lives peacefully along with his father, brother and sister. One day, two distant family relatives are coming to stay with them for a month, Chiyo (Yoshiko Shiraishi) a senile old woman and Yuki (Naoko Mori), her mute granddaughter. At first everything seemed to be ok, but when Yasu's father goes to work at Osaka and that his brother Ken and sister Mami are also leaving for work, Yasu is all alone with the two strangers. Soon he is tortured, get his wheelchair ride into the traffic, turned into a human dartboard, fed cockroaches and more! To make things worse, his brother and sister don't believe him when he tries to tell them what happened during the day. Is there any hope for Yasu?!
Shot in 9 days for only $100,000, LIVING HELL is a twisted tale of torture, siamese twins, screaming and a family gone mad. Shugo Fujii directed, wrote and even acted in the film, he plays reporter Mitsu who has been working on the case of the old lady since she escaped from a mental hospital. In the final third act, everyone goes insane and the acting is a little too over the top for my taste. Still the end result is a nice little film that all Japanese horror fans should seek.
This is the very first DVD from Subversive Cinema and they went all out on making it a great edition! The film is presented in a letterbox ratio of 1.85:1 and it is not enhanced for 16x9 television. According to their web site, they performed extensive color correction frame-by-frame and scratch removal. Due to the condition the film was made its only normal that it look the way it is. Still the colors are nicely saturated and rich but the overall look is a little grainy. The 2.0 Dolby Surround track is nicely mixed, with subtle fx in the surround speakers and clear dialogues. There is an option of easy to read English subtitles. Shugo Fujii also takes part in an interesting English commentary track in which he goes into most of the details behind the production of his feature film.
We get four of Shugo Fujii's short films; BLACKHOLE, SEESAW GAME, GRIEF and DEAD MONEY. BLACKHOLE is a strange and silent tale of a couple meeting a mysterious man. SEESAW GAME is a very good short about how love for a woman you don't even know can turn you crazy and make you do the wrong things. This would make a great feature film. GRIEF is a story about love, revenge and obscession and DEAD MONEY is like a never ending nightmare where everything you try to do right goes wrong. After watching these I can say that Shugo Fujii is a very talented filmmaker and I hope he will soon work on more projects. We also get about 6 minutes of deleted scenes all presented in rough form. Around 240 storyboards for LIVING HELL, an interesting 7 pages bio on Fujii and the trailer for the film along with some other titles coming soon from Subversive Cinema; THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA, GEMINI and BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL. The main menu is animated and with sounds, they are all nicely designed. The film is separated in 19 chapters, comes in a keep case along with a postal card about LIVING HELL.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©
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