We here at Horror Bound are big fans of horror. Duh. We are also big believers that any fun loving cinephile ought to be. Some people find it hard to get past their fears and some are overwhelmed at the sheer volume of horror out there. Including indie horror, which is wonderful, dozens of genre flicks come out every month. So, where does one start?
Well, we got you covered. This recurring article will be dolling out the 100 essential flicks from horror and will give you a heaping tablespoon of the various eras and sub genres. It also just so happens that this list was created by the great minds behind the Shock Waves podcast, including Charlotte’s adoptive mother, Rebekah McKendry, so it’s basically a family list.
These are not ranked, but, rather, in alphabetical order. Today we take a deep cut at Audition.
In 1999’s Audition, widower Shigeharu hasn’t dated in a long time and his son suggests he have another go at it. Being a typical chauvinist, Shigeharu and his friend decide to hold fake auditions for a fake show to screen possible dates. When Asami comes along, Shigeharu falls deeply for her. His friend has some misgivings because he can’t find any info on her and none of her references are answering.
Again, like a typical man, he ignores all that because she is beautiful and he’s lonely. He doesn’t need to get to know her, he loves her! They start seeing each other and take a weekend vacation. Even the smitten Shigeharu starts noticing she seems damaged and off, but, again, love goggles. Turns out he should have been a bit more discerning, because, well, turns out she’s a serial killer. Whoops!
It seems a terrible man abused Asami as a child. After feeling deconstructed by men for years, she starts deconstructing them. She, however, will break them down literally and using piano wire, needles and other assorted horrors. And now it’s Shigeharu’s turn.
This movie brought Takeshi Miike firmly into the horror genre and it also ushered in a switch in the genre. For starters, it began a trend of having the female character not be some cowering victim, but someone fully in control. Here she’s the villain, but in many other films to follow, the female lead is still the victim. Whether the victim or the villain, the role is one of strength and isn’t just an excuse for screams and boobs.
That is certainly the case here. Shigeharu is a weak pig, Asami is strong and in control. She is the one who is cruel and he is the one crying. Many of the current filmmakers following in this trend directly credit Miike and this film, from Tarantino to the Soska sisters. It didn’t just usher in a period of female empowerment horror, it also spurred an age of what came to be known as torture porn and gore.
This movie isn’t just well made, it’s fucking brutal. I mean, her weapon of choice is piano wire and, let me tell you, it’s not to strangle people. No, she sings a cute, childlike song and saws the man’s appendages off! From fingers to whole sections of leg, she sings her little song and saws them off, one by one, with the victim still alive. It doesn’t stop there either. Remember the earlier mention of needles?
Miike does such a good job of making you really feel these awful acts. Let’s take, for example, the fucked up acupuncture she does. These needles aren’t meant for pain relief or to quit smoking, I’ll tell ya that much! To make it seem realistic, Miike had prosthetic skin on the actor so that she could actually put the needles into his live body and not some dummy. If you think that sounds terrible, imagine that some of them went into his eyes. Ryo Ishibashi had these thick prosthetic contacts on his eyes and had to stay in the scene and in character as another actor sat on his chest and put giant ass acupuncture needles into his eyes pushing enough for them to stay in, but not far enough to actually puncture his motherfucking eye! I’m telling you, brutal.
Many of the filmmakers better known for so called gore porn, like Eli Roth and James Wan, directly credit this movie and Miike for convincing them to take things to the next level. To think that such an influential film was shot in just three weeks, with a tiny budget and almost no equipment. If they shot in an apartment, it was actually an apartment, probably belonging to someone on the crew. If it was a street scene, they shot on the street. The actors are unknowns and the crew was essentially Miike and his friends. While it’s not my favorite Miike, it is still a truly fantastic piece of horror that leads you down this soft, thoughtful path only to cut your fucking legs off out of the blue. It’s masterfully made and brought in new innovations in the genre. It certainly belongs on a list of the essentials.
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