Today’s selection: Tomie (1999, dir. Ataru Oikawa)
Available from: Adness
Tomie is probably the biggest modern Japanese horror franchise that hasn’t had some sort of American remake treatment (though I’m sure School of Ghosts fans may want to contest that issue), with nine on-screen appearances by my count. The lack of Hollywood enthusiasm is understandable, as the series has bizarre gender politics; Tomie herself is a monster that seduces men, gets them wild with jealousy, making them kill each other and eventually her. The catch: Tomie will always revive, but the guys that she crosses paths with are pretty much forever ruined. It’s horrific, but lacks the universal appeal of Ring or One Missed Call.
The series is based on the manga by horror mangaka legend Junji Ito, his first published work. Ito himself hand-selected the actress for the first film adaptation, and given that it must’ve been quite the commercial success to get so many sequels, it’s surprising to say: the original Tomie movie isn’t that exciting.
This story sort of introduces audiences to the concept of the immortal schoolgirl who drives men crazy, but the way it plays it seems like knowledge of the original manga would enhance the viewing experience, and there aren’t a lot of additional twists or as many gruesome effects as its successors. The sequels Tomie: Replay, Tomie: Rebirth, and Tomie: Forbidden Fruit are more interesting entries in the series, so at least it’s not one of those film franchises where it’s all downhill after the original.