Yes, I did actively save this to be the last movie I do in this series. If you have never seen it, you might not understand why, but I also bet there’s plenty of readers who are nodding right now in agreement, because this movie is something else.
Angel doesn’t want her mother replaced by her father’s new wife. In order to talk to someone who would understand her, she reaches out to her aunt, who she hasn’t met in years, to visit her. When the holiday plans of her six friends fall through, Angel invites them to come along as well. While it takes somewhat longer for the girls to figure it out, we as the viewers find out soon enough that there is something wrong with the aunt, but we don’t really learn what’s going on until the end – although I guess the hints are quite strong.
The seven girls have very descriptive nicknames. Angel is Angel (actually Gorgeous in other translations), because she is considered the most beautiful by her comrades. We also have Fantasy, who likes to build fantastical narratives, Melody, who like to play the piano, Prof, who reads a lot, Kung-Fu, who is very good at that, Sweet, who is very helpful, and Mac, or short for stomach for her appetite. They are pretty one-dimensional, but due to the nature of the movie, that doesn’t really matter very much.
The movie is also very 70s or maybe a little 60s, which just took some time to reach Japan (the cultural diffusion was much lower back then before Internet). For example, there’s a jazz soundtrack to their teacher trying to reach the manorhouse the girls are in, and there’s a short dance interlude at one point. This also means that the special effects are… let’s say ambitious. Obviously, they had technical limitations, but the thing is that they also are a huge part of why this movie is such fun.
It also tends to feel like a movie for children in many places. The girls are always very positive and enthusiastic. Despite their differences, there’s also a very strong camaraderie. They look out for each other and are very accepting of each other. All this doesn’t necessarily sound like a horror movie, but that’s just because this is not like any other horror movie I’ve seen. Many of the scares also feel like they are designed for kids, but then it also goes a lot further in places. Piano eating the fingers of Melody isn’t a gateway horror thing anymore.
Somehow they’ve managed to make their technological limitations a strength. The effects don’t look very good, but their weirdness is just another fun addition to the movie.
But that’s it for this series. I forgot Critters, which I thought would be a fun addition, but here we are. Gremlins can be the stand-in for that whole subsubgenre. I also thought I’d maybe do One Cut of the Dead, which is a very interesting movie, but would it qualify? I don’t really know. Probably. Maybe I’ll do it later in some other context. I did actively leave out some movies like Fright Night and Night of the Creeps, because I just didn’t find them interesting enough to write about, even if the 80s context does give them an angle. If I would have written a book on the subject, those two might have very well been the two key movies in a chapter, but I didn’t (at least not yet).
I’ll be moving on to new projects. Maybe something similar to this. If that’s what I’ll do, I’ve had some ideas like European animation, superhero movies outside of the Big Two or maybe movies from behind the Iron Curtain. We’ll see what inspires me. Probably the animation. I already have a list of around 30 movies to write about.