Come Halloween and want to be really scared?— ignore the old ‘Pizza’ standbys of Freddy Krueger’s films, “A nightmare on Elm Street, One, Two and Three, and ‘order’ Japanese.
Dismiss this disfigured dream stalker who kills victims in their dreams, and pay no attention to the part in the movie where his potential victims have dreams of young children jumping rope, chanting a rhyme to the tune of ‘One, Two, Buckle My Show” and changing the lyrics to “One, Two Freddy’s coming to you,” foreshadowing a visit from Freddy.
I’ve just seen another horror movie that will make Freddy want to move his horror show to another night.
You see, Freddy with his dark brown fedora, bladed glove, horribly burned face and filthly brown teeth is almost cartoonish compared to another horror film that will stay with you long after the credits roll and the Halloween treats are eaten.
Move over Freddy Krueger (and Wes Craven) you’re being replaced by school children
In case you missed it, The Japanese film is called “Suicide Club”, it was directed by Sion Sono and released in 2002.
The movie opens in the Shinjuku Station where we see people waiting for the train, walking about, laughing and joking—in short doing all of the things that normal people do.
Then, as if directed by some hidden signal, 54 Tokyo school girls (robot like) line up along the subway tracks. The girls dressed in matching black and white school uniforms, move to the edge of the tracks, lock hands and as the train approaches, raise their hands and chant one, two three and then happily leap to their deaths.
The gore that follows is so bad I had to turn my head away, but not before I saw bodies explode like water balloons when they hit the ground and bloodly body parts filled the tracks.
After that dramatic opening, the Japanese horror flick takes the viewer inside a dark world where they investigate the deaths. We learn the reasons why seemingly ‘normal and happy school children’ would do something as unthinkable as taking their own lives before they’ve even begun to live.
What follows is a rash of suicides and the plot (and blood) thickens as Detective Kuroda searches for clues as to why the copycat suicides. A handbag is found on the subway platform and when the officers open it they are horrified to find a large coiled roil made of human flesh.
Giving Family Circle a whole new meaning
The film has all sorts of twists and turns; one of which is the teenybopper musical group of 12-year old girls called “Dessart” who are suspected of having subliminal messages in their music telling kids to kill themselves, and there is a mysterious website called Family Circle.
The film (sandwiched between teenage deaths) explores themes like the nature of happiness, the perceptions of what is real, and the high teenage and internet suicide rate in Japan.
As I said, Suicide Club it is not for the weak of heart (of stomach)—the suicides are graphic and ‘squishy’, and there is ‘gore aplenty’ just like there is in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, but what really spooked me about the Suicide Club is the psychological aspect of the film.
Unlike our “slice and dice” movies in America where the scary scenes are predicable, and you realize that there really isn’t an ‘undead Freddy’ who is going to kill you, a film about kids who willingly and gleefully do themselves in taps into some of our worst phobias.
And given the stylized and leisure pace of the Japanese horror movies, our phobia are the feature of the week.
Children do commit suicide, and when you see a film about something that ‘could happen’ and ‘does’ happen in a real-world every day life context, it is unnerving to say the least.
Yes, people get killed in the Nightmares on Elm street movies to, but the one who is doing the killing is undead. (Can’t happen folks’)
People commit suicide for a variety of reason—-religious fanatics like the 900 or more poor souls in The Jonestown Massacre who drank the cyanide laced punch, or Heaven’s Gate, where 39 people committed suicide (timing it with the appearance of Hale-Bopp comet that would take them to a new plane of existence) but when school children do themselves in by jumping to their death in front of the Tokyo bound express it hits me right in the solar plexus.
“Come and watch me kill myself”
Then there’s the scene where 12 school children commit suicide, one of whom is a school girl, who says to her companions, “Come and watch me kill myself.” And then Pied Piper like, her school mates join her on the roof’s railing. “Are you serious,” asks one. Deadly. The children jump to their deaths.
And so in closing, if you really really really want to be scared on Halloween Night (and most people want to be scared out of their wits) watch Suicide Club instead one of Freddy’s Nightmares.
If enough people watch the Japanese film Suicide Club instead of Krueger’s sequels of nightmares, Krueger might have to whiten his teeth and retire his bladed glove.