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Get scared...Japanese style

Get scared...Japanese style image
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Get scared ... Japanese style

Quintet of ghost stories coming to haunt Lorch Hall



The cool, breezy night sky around Lorch Hall is
'about to be infested with ghostly apparitions as five
Japanese ghost stories come to town.

The University of Michigan Center for Japanese
Studies, in cooperation with Cinema Guild is sponsor-
ing a series of free films begii - " 'v. The series,
"Summer Chills: Five Japan 'tones," is an
engaging pr"£"~>'n covering ;„ .,„.-.- - Japanese cin-

Unlike L iers, which seem to prefer flesh
and blood monsters as opposed to the translucent sort,
ghost stories have long been popular in Japan, a coun-
try rooted in the traditions of the Noh theater.

As analyst Donald Richie once obsr 'G
Americairfltm ts strongestTnartron, and - -n
is strong!,' • - "--- ^g Japanese 111111 is
richest in

Thesenc 11 .; ,- n;iv( !y avoided several ob-
vious but oft-screened choices ("Kwaidan," "Throne of
Blood," etc.) in favor of a more eclectic group, which in-
cludes several films rarely seen in t'"- -'••-'•"y.

The series kicks off with an obvi nt films
rarely get any better than Kenji M 'Ugetsu
monogatari" (1953), widely regarded as one of the
greatest films ever made.

Set in the 16th century, the film, also known simply
as "Ugetsu," tells two parallel stories (based on Ueda
Aldnari's "Asaji ga yado" and "Jasei no in"), one about
a potter looking for wealth, the second about his friend,
who wants to become a samurai warrior. A chance
meeting with a spirit changes their lives forever.

The series continues the following week with the lit-
tle-seen 1980 movie "Demon Pond," a film Los Angeles
Times critic Kevin Thomas • -- ' - wli'ss work"
upon its limited U.S. release ;i33, and
follows three characters who— lr,—a ii-n-i.e around
the nighttime transformations of the title body of

Next up is "The Face of Another" (1966), from direc-
tor Hiroshi Teshigahra and novelist-screenwriter Kobo


"Summer Chills- Five Japanese Ghost Stories"
will be prese f charge Friday
evenings at / ;.' n >!i i-orch Hall on the
University of Michigan campus. Films are as

June 19: "Ugetsu monogatari"
June 26: "Demon Pond"
July 10: "The Face of Another"
July 17: "Dodes 'ka-den"
July 24: "Summer Vacation: 1999"

Abe, the same pair who directed the highly-lauded
"The Woman in the Dunes," made two years earlier. A
disfigured, angry man (Tatsuya Nakadai, who later
played the Lear role in Akira Kurosawa's "Ran")
charges a doctor to give him a new face in this eerie
tale of isolation.

Those who had the chance to see director Kur-
osawa's magnificent "Rhapsody in August" will want to
check out his "Dodes 'ka-den" (1970), a story of miser-
able souls caught up in a world of fantasy to survive.
Despite some good reviews in the United States, the
film was widely panned in Japan, and the harsh rejec-
tion of the film drove Kurosawa to attempt suicide.

The series concludes on a decidedly contemporary
note, with Shusuke Kaneko's "Summer Vacation: 1999"
(1988). It's the story of four schoolboys (oddly, they're
played by young girls) both overjoyed and terrified
when the spirit of one of thcii ' ' ' psbyfora
visit. The U-M Center for s says it
"brings the ghost story to th ' _ • . on."

At just the right price (free, that is) and touting sev-
eral rarely-seen, though highly-regarded films, "Sum-
mer Chill: "' ' panese Ghost Stories" promises a
summer -ing, if creepy fun.