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Old 11-07-2015   #1
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Marebito Revisited

I read Ligotti's The Bungalow House recently, prompted by its numerous mentions on this site, and was reminded of Marebito (2004), which I hadn’t watched in some years. Marebito is a film by director Takashi Shimizu, who four years earlier had brought us Jo-on and its American remake The Grudge.

The following outline of Marebito's plot might seem overlong and spoiler-heavy, but bear in mind most of it covers only the first half-hour of a ninety minute film.



Masuoka is a freelance cameraman who happens to be on the scene when a man named Furoki commits suicide on the Tokyo underground. In the minutes before this happens, the viewer might have been forgiven for thinking this was a found-footage movie, as we are taken up stairs and onto a rooftop, then spy on the window of a dreadfully dilapidated apartment – a journey viewed entirely through Masuoka’s camera lens. He comments that a woman hiding behind improvised blinds in the apartment is paranoid. Masuoka is not interested in her paranoia but believes he may have “salvaged her soul” by capturing her image in his camera.

He becomes obsessed with Furoki's suicide. The man had stabbed himself in the eye as if to prevent himself seeing something – and Masuoko longs to see that thing. The cameraman has collected hundreds of images of mysterious things, but they no longer interest him. They have already been defined as strange things. These images cause anxiety but not the kind of terror that he saw on the face of the suicide. He watches snuff movies but considers that this is not the terror he seeks, as with death there is an end to it.


Then he concludes that people were not terrified by the things they saw: conversely, it was their terror that caused them to see something.

Returning to the subway he finds a mysterious door which leads him down stairs... and into another world. The great labyrinth of tunnels below Tokyo has become an urban myth, but here it is, no myth but a vast excavation probably unexplored since the Second World War. With this descent into the netherworld, the film takes another turn, reminding the viewer of J G Ballard’s Home (2003) where the mundane environment of a terraced house becomes an alien place. But unlike Ballard’s solitary occupant, Masuoko glimpses strange creatures, phantoms. A terrified homeless man warns him of the Deros. Furoki's ghost appears and the two briefly discuss theories of the Hollow Earth; Madame Blavatsky is mentioned; also Richard Shaver’s fantasies from the 1940s (See footnote).

When the ghost departs, Masuoko continues to explore, and in a positively magical scene steps out into daylight and finds The Mountains of Madness spread out before him.






At the Mountains of Madness


Soon after this he discovers a naked girl lying chained in a cleft in the rock.


He frees her and takes her home. He names her ‘F’ and says she is his “little Kaspar Hauser”. He seems reluctant to attribute personality to her. But he soon finds that she’s unable to speak, won’t eat or drink and naturally she quickly becomes ill. Until Masuoko makes an accidental discovery.

Most of the above is encapsulated in the film’s first half-hour.

As for the rest of the film, I’ve always suspected that Dario Argento’s short film Jenifer for the Masters of Horror TV series (2005) was a rather messy rip-off of the most exploitative elements from the remaining hour of Maribeto, with none of its depth. Of course I’m biased; I admit I don’t really like Argento’s films.



Returning to Marebito, The Mountains of Madness is given proper-noun status in the subtitles, and there is another slightly ambiguous statement near the end of the film which, playfully, deliberately, might be taken as a reference to the mythos. Or not.

Footnote: Richard Shaver claimed to have been abducted by aliens, was briefly confined for psychiatric reasons, but continued to publish stories into the late 1950s. He claimed to have discovered a ‘Proto-human language’ called Mantong from which all human languages derived, and during the 60s and 70s, living in obscurity, devoted his time to studying ‘rock books’ – rocks which he believed to have been imprinted with text and images by the Ancients. The Deros, by the way, were a cave-dwelling race from Shaver's books. Fascinating stuff.

Richard Sharpe Shaver

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Old 11-07-2015   #2
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Re: Marebito Revisited

Quote Originally Posted by Calenture View Post
As for the rest of the film, Iíve always suspected that Dario Argentoís short film Jenifer for the Masters of Horror TV series (2005) was a rather messy rip-off of the most exploitative elements from the remaining hour of Maribeto, with none of its depth. Of course Iím biased; I admit I donít really like Argentoís films.
It's an adaptation of the short comic by Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson from Creepy magazine in the 70s. Well worth seeking.

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Old 11-07-2015   #3
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Smile Re: Marebito Revisited

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Calenture View Post
As for the rest of the film, I’ve always suspected that Dario Argento’s short film Jenifer for the Masters of Horror TV series (2005) was a rather messy rip-off of the most exploitative elements from the remaining hour of Maribeto, with none of its depth. Of course I’m biased; I admit I don’t really like Argento’s films.
It's an adaptation of the short comic by Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson from Creepy magazine in the 70s. Well worth seeking.


Jenifer by Bruce Dickinson and Bernie Wrightson

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources...-time-jenifer/

Thanks, Robert. That's obviously one part of that post that I should have researched a little more carefully. I used to collect comics and have some of those gorgeous black and white Creepy magazines from Warren that you mention - but obviously not that issue! Wrightson's such an amazing artist; even his ghouls have a sort of decaying nobility.

Still not keen on Argento, though...

Last edited by Calenture; 11-08-2015 at 02:53 PM..
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Old 11-07-2015   #4
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Re: Marebito Revisited

Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson thankfully came out a few years ago. I had most of his Creepy/Eerie work collected in other forms but it's great to have it in a book like that. And all the other artist collections they did.
http://www.darkhorse.com/Search/creepy%20presents

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