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Yasha-ga-ike

Demon Pond

Japan 2005
produced by
Yoshiaki Iba for Hakuhodo DY Media Partners
directed by Takashi Miike
starring Kenichi Endo, Masato Hagiwara, Kitaro, Ryuhei Matsuda, Ryohei, Shinji Takeda, Tetsuro Tanba, Gotaro Tsunashima
based on the play by Keishi Nagatsuka, music by Koji Endo

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Years ago, Akira has set out to wander the countryside in order to collect legends and folk tales. Then one day he reached Demon Pond, where he promised the dying bellmaster to take care of the bell next to the pond - because only if the bell is rung thrice a day the Dragon Princess will refrain from flooding the valley below and grant the populace protection one more day ...

Initially, Akira thought little of the story about the Demon Pond, but then he fell in love with Yuri, a local girl, and for her sake, he stayed as the bellmaster of Demon Pond, and instead of collecting stories, he has become part of one himself ...

The Dragon Princess meanwhile is unhappy, because she has to watch over those living beneath Demon Pond and can therefore not be with her lover, the prince of Snake Pond (whose fate is similar to hers). Actually, the princess is already trying to destroy Demon Pond's bell, which would free her from all her obligations, when she hears Yuri singing, which calms her down, effectively averting disaster.

The valley beneath Demon Pond is plagued by a drought, so the villagers have come up with the idea to sacrifice a girl to the Dragon Princess - and their choice has fallen upon Yuri, the bellmaster's wife, because a) they don't really believe in the legend about the bell anymore, and b) since Yuri has married Akira, they don't see her as one of them anymore. Akira does the best to talk the villagers out of it, and when that leads nowhere, he puts up a fight for her ... until Yuri, wanting to end the bloodshed, kills herself. Being devastated by the death of his wife, Akira refuses to ring the bell - and the whole valley below is destroyed by a big wave.

The Princess of Demon Pond couldn't be happier, because with the valley destroyed, she has no more obligations to the locals (who are all dead anyways) and can finally be with her lover. Yet out of gratitude she brings Yuri and Akira back to life ...

 

Actually, Demon Pond was not intended to be a feature film but was directed for the stage by jack-of-all-trades filmmaker Takashi Miike - and it was performed to sold-out houses. Consequently, Demon Pond the movie is not a feature film as such but merely the videotaping of one such live performance (or maybe even more than one spliced together, I don't know). That said, Demon Pond does of course not say much about Takashi Miike the filmmaker (though he was actively involved in bringing the play to screen) but all the more about Miike the theatre man - and as stage director, Miike actually does amazingly well, inasmuch as he reduces his source material's requirements to the core (including using no more than a single sparce scenery), does away with all the stage effects the play could have asked for, and instead relies heavily on his actors and actresses - who are uniformly great. And if you combine that with a script that combines simplistic folk tales and high drama with a certain touch of humour and irony, all translated onto the stage (and screen) light-footedly, you end up with a pretty well-done play that wonderfully enough loses all its staginess on screen without ever even trying to deny its theatrical roots ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
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out now on DVD