Japan Cuts: Festival Of New Japanese Film is gearing up for its hybridized and fifteenth festival installment launching on August 20 through September 2. For this, you’re welcome to hit this tag and check out the 2021 coverage so far, which includes the full line-up, as well as a few reviews already making headway online.
This now brings us to the latest addition to this year’s festivities, Hiruko the Goblin, Shinya Tsukamoto’s 1991 sophomore directing move. Just in time for its 30th anniversary, the film was handed a 2K restoration for its recent theatrical outing in Japan last month, and will now follow accordingly with an international premiere as part of the Japan Cuts XV line-up.
Brought onboard to adapt two stories from acclaimed manga artist Daijiro Morohoshi (whose widespread influence has been cited by Hayao Miyazaki and Hideaki Anno), Tsukamoto scripted and directed the film, casting pop idol Kenji Sawada (The Man Who Stole the Sun, The Happiness of the Katakuris) as the delightfully eccentric Professor Hieda. A wonderfully eerie meld of camp, horror, and fever-dream surrealism, Hiruko the Goblin remains an underseen gem that effortlessly melds Lovecraftian mythos, adventure, body horror and humor into a singular, macabre vision. Included as part of the festival’s Classics selection, Hiruko the Goblin will be available across the US through film.japansociety.org from August 20-September 2.
Following the success of his trailblazing independent cyberpunk debut, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Shinya Tsukamoto directed this wonderfully bizarre adaptation of Daijiro Morohoshi’s Yokai Hunter manga as his first studio project. Called to an idyllic countryside town, disgraced archaeologist Professor Hieda (pop idol Kenji Sawada) teams up with high schooler Masao (Masaki Kudou) when a series of disappearances—including those of Masao’s father (Naoto Takenaka) and classmate crush Reiko (Megumi Ueno)—take place. Together, the unlikely duo discover that the local high school sits atop an ancient burial mound that may very well be a subterranean gateway to hell. Offering a raucous mashup of genres—ranging from campy adventure to Lovecraftian body horror—Hiruko the Goblin delivers pulse-pounding thrills with over-the-top visuals including stop-motion animation and practical effects that recall the early works of Sam Raimi and John Carpenter.