Thursday, December 27, 2012
The Inugami Family (1976)
I'm the first one to admit that I'm watching a lot of soulless crap. Most of what I'm watching never - NEVER - gets reviewed here, because it's too uninteresting. I think this is one of the reasons why I'm from time to time looses interest in writing reviews. These movies, the bad ones, works as (to quote Anton LaVey) "Psychic Vampires". They steal all my energy and points out how meaningless it is, this what I'm doing. The last couple of days, after a few weeks of writing nothing, I've been watching Japanese genre cinema and hey... this is very good for the soul! From Ultraseven (SO cool) to The H-Man and Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds. Original, fresh, fun, absurd and with a depth that a lot of other countries don't have in their art. So I decided to once again take down Kon Ichikawa's The Inugami Family from the shelf and give it a spin, and boy... this is freaking good stuff!
When it comes to the work of Kon Ichikawa I'm not an expert at all, but I would love some recommendations what to start with - preferably if it's out on a nice DVD or even nicer BD. What I understand this is not a typical
film, but obviously he liked it
enough to make a whole bunch of movies starring Kôji Ishizaka as the shy,
maybe-maybe not incompetent, mumbling private detective Kindaichi (based on a
hugely popular series of books written by Seishi Yokomizo). I would give my
left arm to see the other Kindaichi films they made together. Anyway. The
Inugami Family is the proud tradition of Agatha Christie and similar
storytellers, and this time it's even more cliché: old man Inugami has died and
seven months later his family, his three daughters with their three sons and
the rest, gathers to open his will. The will is very complicated and it will
work out the best for one of the family's branches if Inugami's new favorite
girl, the young and innocent Tamayo Nonomiya - not belonging to the family
bloodline - marries one of the sons. One of the sons is also hideously deformed
after the war, but she has to choose what's best for her anyway... Ichikawa
Well, we all know what this leads to: murder, murder and more murder - everything in a delicate mess of intrigue and gossip and the question is if even the famous Kindaichi can solve this mystery before it gets even bloodier!
The Inugami Family is part murder mystery but maybe most of all an interesting and very dark deconstruction of a typical rich (and greedy) Japanese family. I promise you, there's multiple solutions to the murders and after each one it gets even more and more complicated. The calm camera studies the reactions of everyone in the shot, like I never seen it before. A couple of time the visual style reminded me of John Carpenter's The Thing: the paranoia growing bigger, the unexpected kills, the subtle music.
also has some fun with the murders - all of them off-screen, until the final
revelation at the end when we gets a chance to see every kill again, but this
time with blood and goo. It's not terribly graphic, but enough to spice up a
brilliant story even more. The style of the movie also reminded me of Mario
Bava's Ichikawa , with it's setting close to a dark
lake - perfect to dump bodies in - and greedy family members sneaking around
every corner. Bay of Blood
The story is very complex and convoluted, and it takes 100 % concentration to watch this film. Because if you look away you might miss a clue or a twist, and to fully enjoy this story you need to know everything.
The Inugami Family, with its black humour, ghastly murder mystery and scathing satire - and don't forget the discrete use of homoeroticism - is one of my favourite Japanese movies ever and a true masterpiece. For those interested,
himself in 2006. I need to see that version! Ichikawa