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Spiral / Vortex

Japan 2000
produced by
Sumiji Miyake, Dai Miyazaki, Mitsuru Kurosawa, Toyoyuki Yokohama for Omega Project
directed by Higuchinsky
starring Erio Hatsune, Fhi Fan, Keiko Takahashi, Ren Osugi, Taro Suwa, Masami Horiuchi, Hinako Saeki, Shin Eun-Kyung, Denden, Tooru Teduka, Sadao Abe, Asumi Miwa, Saori Nakane, Yasuki Tanaka, Yuki Murakami, Maki Hamada, Tomoo Fukatsu, Akira Matsuda, Chino Mizuki, Takuto Oyama, Hassei Takano
screenplay by Kengo Kaji, Takao Nitta, Chika Yasuo, based on the manga by Junji Ito, music by Tetsuro Kashibuchi, Keiiji Suzuki

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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It all started rather harmlessly when the father (Ren Osugi) of highschool student Kirie's (Eriko Hatsune) boyfriend Shuichi (Fhi Fan) started to become obsessed with spirals and started to collect and/or film everything that even remotely has to do with spirals, which soon made him neglect his work. But it soon got worse, when one of Kirie's co-eds threw himself to his death down a spiral staircase at Kirie's school just because the spiral seemed to call him. And slowly, other students at her school started growing spirals on their backs and eventually turned to human snails.

Then Shuichi's dad kills himself - in a washing machine, because it creates spirals, and when his body is burned, it creates smoke in the form of a spioral. Shuichi's mum (Keiko Takahashi) then has a nervous breakdown and starts developing a phobia of spirals - and she even goes so far as to cut away the skin on her fingertips because her fingerprints look remotely like spirals. Then even Kirie's dad (Taro Suwa) kills himself, just because inside the barrel of his gun there is a spiral ...

Reporter Tamura (Masami Horiuchi) wants to clear the whole thing up and soon ties the whole spiral-thing to mirrors (?) and a snake cult, but before he can really do anything, an obnoxious teen (Sadao Abe) runs in front of his car and is caught in the wheel and turned to a spiral - neither he nor the reporter survive the crash.

Ultimately, Kirie and Shuichi realize they are the only two left sane, and they decide to escape the village as quickly as possible ... but when they are almost gone, the curse of the spiral catches up with Shuichi, and he is turned into a live spiral, and wants to drag Kirie back with him. Somehow though she manages to escape ... and just in time too.


The pure concept of this movie (and the comic it is based on) is nothing short of great: a village possessed/cursed by spirals - have you ever heard anything quite as crazy or ingenious ?

Unfortunately the film fails to exploit its premise to its full extent - director Higuchinsky manages to deliver pretty and impressive pictures of a world that turns more and more into spirals, but on the story level, the film loses steam after about half an hour - and the film had a slow start to begin with - and eventually seems to on one hand repeat itself, on the other hand it starts getting a tad silly (e.g. the human snails), and in the end, the finale - Shuichi turning into a spiral and trying to drag Kirie with him - looks like nothing but a boring horror mainstay - which a film with an unique premise like Uzumaki just doesn't deserve.

Still, if you are into far-out plots, you might enjoy this ... just don't expect too much - or see if you can find the comicbook.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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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
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


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On the same day
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... and for the life of it,
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A Killer Conversation

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