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LAFF: JU-ON THE GRUDGE and KRUSH GROOVE

“Get your Ju-On

Get Your Ju-On

Get Your Ju-On…”

That’s the obvious joke out of the way.

Now let’s talk JU-ON: THE GRUDGE. Part of the New Wave of Japanese horror that includes RINGU and DARK WATER, and more peripherally, THE EYE (a Thai-Japanese collaboration), JU-ON is a success when it comes to creeping out the audience.

That said, there are problems — mostly redundance. JU-ON features a cursed house inhabited by, among others, a big black shape in vaguely female form, a dead cat, a little pale white boy named Toshio who stares at you and makes cat noises with his mouth, and various forms of white noise and electromagnetic pulses. We first see inside the house courtesy of a substitute social worker, but subsequent sequences take place both before and after the intial event.

Basically, anyone who enters the house is fucked. Not immediately, though. Once they leave, they get stalked by some or all of the aforementioned creepy critters, until something really bad happens. Fade to black. Begin again with new person. Only after this chain of events repeats like five or six times to we finally get told what the source of all the bad stuff is.

And some of it’s very familiar. There’s no drowned girl this time, but dead kid: check. Staring and screaming at people to scare them: check. Video distortion on photos of people marked for death: check. Creepy dead chick on video who can stare right out at the viewer or fuck with the TV signal: check. Hair hanging over face for scary mystery factor: check.

The scares all work, but not quite so effectively as in RINGU or DARK WATER, because those films held back on fully revealing the master ghost, while JU-ON shows us Toshio and black formless mass early on. With all the similar elemenst, one has to longer how many more times the same dogs are gonna hunt.

An American remake is coming, and judging by the trailer, it’s very similar, set in Japan with just a couple of whiteys in the lead (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Bill Pullman). Toshio is still Japanese. And the director is the same.

KRUSH GROOVE (shown outdoors at 8000 Sunset)

This one takes me back. “introducing Blair Underwood”, indeed.

Made in the mid-80s as a cash-in on the hip-hop explosion, the movie plays better now than it did then, because it’s a trip to watch the Fat Boys (initially called the Disco 3 in the flick), New Edition, Curtis Blow, Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, and Sheila E. all in the same movie, all playing themselves and doing musical numbers. The plot is slight: Blair Underwood plays Run’s brother, and their egos clash; meanwhile, a big record label tries to buy up all the talent from Blair’s struggling Krush Groove label.

Boy, did it make me think about the state of rap today. It’s all mainstream now, but the stuff in Krush Groove is more creative and more rockin’ than a lot of the crap being churned out today. No lyrics about guns or pot-smoking that I could discern. No hackneyed George Clinton samples. It reminded me that every rap band used to have one guy who did human beat-boxing — does any major band do that today?

I’m probably starting to sound old now, so I’ll stop.

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2 comments to LAFF: JU-ON THE GRUDGE and KRUSH GROOVE

  • Ghostboy

    Check out The Roots and Jurassic 5, two of the best hip hop acts currently to have major record contracts and both of whom use beat boxing and actually have things to say with their lyrics. They’re brilliant (especially The Roots). Also, Blackalicious and Common have some amazing things going on with their styles. There are still a lot of great underground hip hop acts, but unfortantely (or fortunately, depending on your POV), they’re way outside the mainstream awareness.

    I’ve had a copy of Ju-on on VHS for over a year now and still haven’t finished it. I always start watching it at random late hours and get creeped out, so I turn it off and go to bed and then forget about it. Most Asian film cliches scare me, even when they’re crappy and cliched, like in The Eye. Dark Water is the best the genre’s ever seen — beautiful story to go along with the scares. I’d recommend checking out Uzumaki, which is just plain bizarre and awesome, and also this lovely short piece called Going Home, which turns the Japanese child-ghost cliche on its head, sort of.

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  • Jaye

    Agreed. Both the Roots and Jurassic 5 are among the best and most pure out there today. And yes, there’s plenty more — it just takes time and a lot of searching to be able to see the diamonds in the ruff, just like in any other genre. Some of the best hip hop I’ve heard recently are from kids selling records out of their car trunks, on the sidewalks, and at their shows. No surprise… The streets – where it was born.

    I remember KRUSH GROOVE, BEAT STREET, and the BREAKIN’ movies fondly. Would love to see those again.

    I’d like to see this JU-ON and DARK WATER, too.

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