5 Junji Ito Comics to Keep You Up at Night

I have yet to find something as repugnant, grotesque, and, ghastly as anything I’ve read by Junji Ito. His comics are a collage of visual fears warped with a sick and twisted taste of horror that you’d only see in your worst nightmares. But once you’ve read one, your morbid curiosity kicks in. Soon you’ll be ordering away for his collections and watching shorts on YouTube.

If you haven’t picked up a Junji Ito comic, it’s time you stop putting it off and give your horror hobby something new for it to handle. He’s published a lot of works however, and his index can be quite overwhelming if given the chance to skim through. But once you do, I promise you won’t stop. Here’s a few of my favorites to get you started:

 

5. Glyceride

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Feelin like a fast food run tonight? Glyceride will encourage you to stick to your diet. Yui lives day to day in her families house/restaurant that is covered in grease due to all of the cooking throughout the years. As her and her brother grow older, insecurities about the smell, acne, and health implications grow prevalent. Soon, things take a turn for the worse, and Yui discovers a horrifying secret about her father’s business. If you wanna snack while reading this…well…don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

4. The Thing that Drifted Ashore

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A strange creature washes ashore on a Pacific beach. Puzzled by it’s anatomy, scientists begin to theorize what it is. As an onlooking crowd spectates the humongous rotting corpse, they stumble upon an unlikely surprise.

3. The Enigma of Amigara Fault

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There’s a hole for everyone. For everyone, there is a hole. Strange human like fissures begin to appear on the side of a mountain. As gawkers flock to the sight of the phenomenon, a weird urge begins to overcome them. It appears that the holes all have a living owner that fits in just perfectly. People begin to cram themselves into the holes only to never be seen again.

 

2. Slug Girl (Collection)

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Slug girl is a separate story too. However, the collection includes comics that go off of a more…troubling biological imbalance. Here, you’ll find horrid stories from a girl with a slug in her mouth to things that would send Trypophobics into shock. This collection also includes The Thing that Drifted Ashore. 

1. Gyo

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Many have wondered what is at the depths of the ocean. The best thing is that we get to keep wondering instead of finding out the hard way. Gyo brings the creatures of the deep blue to the surface. No one knows exactly what is going on, but it can be described as a dead fish zombie apocalypse. While scientists try to figure out why ocean life is resurrecting and wrecking havoc on the living, humans begin to experience the same mutation. Again, I don’t recommend eating while reading this one either.

Junji Ito listicles vary depending on the writer’s exposure to his work. These are just my suggestions. I encourage you to head over to the Junji Ito archive and find something that disturbs you as much as these did for me. Just like a hole, there’s a story for everyone.

Netflix’s “Black Summer” is sort of a bummer

The zombie apocalypse series falls flat. It’s just another zombie show.

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Black Summer title card, Wikipedia

“Is there anything you like?” is probably what a lot of people are asking right now. It’s not that I dislike most things, I just have expectations for the content that I watch. Yes, if a film company is going to feature something, and PR the shit out of it, I expect it to be good dammit! So, now with that being said, let’s talk about the Netflix show Black Summer

I didn’t expect another zombie show coming from anyone to be completely honest. Zombies are kind of played out in my opinion. I even stopped watching The Walking Dead at some point after they got to Alexandria. Since the show came out in 2009, zombies have been on a steady decline ever since. But that’s okay. Every horror fad changes. First it was vampires, then zombies, now it seems to be turning into horror movies that have underlying messages of societal problems, much like Jordan Peele’s Get Out.

Black Summer takes place during a zombie apocalypse, following various survivors trying to fight off the undead horde sprinting after them. It features two groups of survivors that later meet towards the end of the 8 episode 1st season.

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Survivors, Digital Spy

The way the show is formatted is a bit strange. Every time there is a scene change, a black screen with some writing indicates what could potentially be the prime focus of said scene. Kind of like what you would see in a Lars Von Trier film. This wasn’t a problem at all, and I won’t take off points for it. I actually thought this was unique. You don’t see many TV shows kick it off this way. So I tagged along.

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Scene title, Buzzfeed

I’m not going to walk through the episodes. I just don’t think it’s worth it. I think the entire show can be discussed collectively.  Each episode simply does not deserve its own recap review. If you watched it, I want you to tell me if you honestly would stand to sit and binge watch that show. Would you stay tuned every week for a new episode? I wouldn’t, and quite frankly, it’ll only bore me to sit there and re-watch just to give an accurate review. And while I don’t entirely want to bash the show, a lot of stuff just didn’t work.

First off, are we gonna just ignore the amount of zombies that were not in this show? I mean, you had some good horde chases, but other than that, it was PVP the whole time. In a zombie movie, we look towards the dead or anyone who could potentially turn as the biggest threat, and the hugest action should be some zombies.

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Black Summer zombie, CST Online

However, I respect the fact that the producers maybe wanted to do something different. I am being a bit presumptuous by assuming they wanted to focus more on character development and a proper story line, which we see kinda go out the window in action films ,or when a writer wants to get to the point. It’s at the cost of a few extra 20 minutes of storytelling. But if that’s all you focus on, then you better cram it all in. These episodes were usually 20-30 minutes long at best. They had some bargaining, and it’s clear which direction they went in.

The time they spent cramming didn’t really pay off though. They filled the blank space with pointless scenes that resolved into nothing. Was I missing some symbolism? One of the characters awakes in a library of a school that has been taken over by a gang of lawless teenagers. Not taking into account that he’s in serious trouble, he picks up a copy of War and Peace. He flips through for a couple of pages and then proceeds to get freaked out by a loud bang. I understand it’s a long book, but I’ve never seen anyone so terrified while they read.

That scene lasted for a good 30 seconds, but that’s way too long in my opinion. Was he looking for a secret code in the book? A weapon? No, he was just skimming through while a gang of kids is going to royally mess up his life, and he’s fully aware of this. I ranted longer than the scene lasted. Terrible filler, pointless, and it made the whole episode kind of humorous. That same character would later escape the library and be seen running from one zombie for an entire episode. Enough said.

I said I wouldn’t rant the whole time and I apologize. Thus far, that’s all I’ve done. The show does pose like maybe 2 unique challenges which only helps a few characters (one really). One of the characters is a Korean woman, Sun (played by Christian Lee), who barely speaks any English, but can understand it. So there’s a language barrier at a time when communication is KEY. I liked Sun because she had the only conflict in the show worth following, if there were any easily identifiable conflicts at all. And in episode 6, she got trapped in the ceiling vents with a dead guy who turned after being shot (sound familiar?) Strangely, all the best things are centered around Sun (yes pun intended).

Outside of Sun, there really isn’t a general flow to the episodes. It does follow up, but the producers fail to properly use mechanics to make it happen as it should. Episode 6 had very limited dialogue with little to no context on what’s going on through heavy visuals. They stumble upon a compound, there’s a mean guy who tries to rape people, a random underground party, and zombie horde. We see from different perspectives throughout the episode as to explain different events that take place. But this one failed to woo me. I was lost most of the time.

When a new zombie movie or show comes out, I do want to tune in. Though that ship has sailed, I still want to see someone bring a different element to this classic theme. Black Summer just couldn’t do it. Nothing quite does anymore. What was different? The zombies sprinted, but they did that in 28 Days Later and The Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake. Ooh you don’t have to be bitten to turn? Yeah, been there done that.

One thing that appealed to me with this show is its attempt to start off in the earlier parts of the apocalypse, much like Fear The Walking Dead did. It didn’t start at the very beginning, but it was close enough for there to still be a military presence. They could have used this to make the show stand out, but it didn’t work. Show us a news report, people looting stores, an officer trying to keep people in order. People are already savages and they haven’t even been through hell that long. It felt like Zombieland.

And with that, I’ll say one of the main problems I see in fiction is a pacing problem between scenes and characters. I don’t think there should have been any separate gangs or Lord Of the Flies type kids, especially when there aren’t enough zombies around to explain it.

I watched it for you so you don’t have to. But if you must, keep in mind that you won’t be disturbed, disgusted, on the edge of your seat, or even biting your fingernails. On the Creep Meter, I’d give this show a 2.5/5. If you’re gonna resurrect an old theme, make it different. But what do I expect. It’s a Z Nation Spin-off.

 

 

 

Sometimes, The Original is Better

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PET SEMATARY, from Paramount Pictures.

First, I just wanna emphasize, it is in no way shape or form fair to say that I’m a Stephen King fan. Although, his plots are absolutely fantastic. What really gets to me is probably the fact that he puts too much fluff in his narrative. If it wasn’t going to take me 3 hours to get through one chapter of Duma Key, I would have finished it already. It came out 11 years ago. I put it down after 3 weeks. But, I’ll give him credit for his film adaptations. Visually, they are spectacular, they’re undeniably disturbing, and in some cases, just dumb sad.

Being the horror fan that I am though, naturally I was pretty psyched about the Pet Sematary remake. King had already revamped IT in 2017, which gave us more of a storyline with “The Losers Club”. I liked it. It was good. It wasn’t as good as the original, but how many remakes are?

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The original Pet Sematary came out in 1989. It was pretty somber. I mean, you had Gage, a bright-eyed little kid who had to be no older than 2 years-old, get hit by a damn truck on the highway, at full speed. We sort of saw that coming. They drove past like bats out of hell.

King has 3 children of his own, two sons and a daughter. He’s never lost them, but he sure captured what it was like to lose them. I don’t have any kinds of my own, but I could feel the pain of losing a kid like Gage. He was a baby more appropriately. His little “uh-oh,” and “I love you daddy,” moments were so precious. For a character that said so few words, he punched you in the heart pretty hard.

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Gage from 1989 Pet Sematary,Medium

So the remake still has Gage and all, but now you have Ellie and she’s more of a driving force in the film. It’s not to say that Ellie wasn’t a person in the original Pet Sematary, but it was pretty obvious that King wanted us to focus on Gage. She is a predictable, mature for her age, a unique child. But, the directors didn’t go about this in a unique way. Of course she is outgoing and bonds with Jud. Maybe I’m speaking from a deep seeded experience, but I see highly intellectual kid characters always befriending adults. She’s smart, everyone loves her, and she’s so peculiar to her parents. Her loss would have to be a tragedy right (spoiler alert)? It’s built up to make it sad, a loss to the world. Sorry Ellie, but you’re a pretty common archetype. Her innocence was stripped long before death took it.

Stephen King has always been good for going where he shouldn’t go. He killed Gage, Georgie, that kid from Stand by Me, and let’s not forget  Salem’s Lot with poor old Danny Glick and his kid brother Ralphie. You just can’t mess with Kurt Bartlow. Anyway, King doesn’t care if you’re a cute little pumpkin patch kid. This movie sure cared though, and quite honestly, don’t bother showing us Ellie’s corpse if you’re gonna imprecisely portray what someone looks like after getting hit by a truck at full speed. They didn’t show Gage. We saw him after he came back as a little demon monster. But at that point, the mortician fixed him up for sure. No, I didn’t want to see that. But don’t paint an unreal picture and glamourize death. You know damn well she probably wouldn’t even have a recognizable face. Her death came off as super theatrical, not really giving us enough time to say “wow that’s just horrible. My goodness that poor girl…guess it’ll be a closed casket funeral.”

It’s harder when you have a more grown up character. Gage didn’t have to work hard to win the hearts of viewers. Ellie was already approaching adolescents. The original Ellie was way younger in more than one way. Her mentality screamed childhood, even while dealing with night terrors from the death of her brother. I suppose the idea of killing a young child doesn’t fit the bill in 2019 like it did in 1989. Ellie was at best, a young adult in a child’s body.

Jud Crandall served his original purpose. He showed Louis Creed (played by Jason Clarke) the Indian burial ground that’s far beyond the pet sematary. Fred Gwynne played the original Jud who offered a father voice to the film, even to Dr. Creed. Though his insights into burying things in the sour ground was a bad judgement call, he cared for this family,and he did so selflessly.

But something irked me intensely this time. Jud just didn’t seem very… mysteriou, and for the love of God, he was missing his prolific North Eastern accent. We knew very little of the original Jud. He only told us that he buried a long lost pup in the burial grounds, only for it to come back and attack his mother. Other than that, he was an old timer that lived in the house he was born. But he wasn’t dry. He was awesome. You knew this man to be wise, tough, but he seemed almost too caring to me. Usually, anyone who comes off wise and, fatherly, yet somewhat distant deserves a papa in front of their name. Not this Jud.

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Crandall is played by John Lithgow (you might remember him from the 90’s sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun) in the remake. And no offense to Lithgow, but there was no cool accent. “Sometimes, dead is BETTUH.” But it’ll suffice. To what little we know,  Jud had a wife who died of an unnamed illness. She eventually comes back as an apparition that’s really gage, and kills him. She blames Jud for her death which is left unexplained. The approach at extending Jud’s story was very shallow, and they should have just stuck to the basics. Don’t write a story if it’s going to be half assed. Keep it mysterious or make it known.

Even with that unintentionally minute detail to the character, we still knew more than we needed to ,and because of that, Jud became vulnerable far too soon in the film, even falling victim to a sedative slipped to him by Dr. Creed. With death as an underlying (though very strongly represented) theme in the film, Jud’s death is supposed to show that even he, a strong wise old man, is not safe from death.  

The original Crandstall knew who was in his house, not possessing a visible amount of fear on his face. He walked through his wooden house calling out Gage’s name, while branding a weapon. New Jud showed less resilience, giving into his ghost wife’s (or gage’s rather) gimmicks.

I figured the directors, producers, and whoever were trying to win everyone over with a spin on an original. But the attempts to stab at it’s viewers emotions fell flat. It’s always sad when a young child dies in a movie, but why should we care? Her character too felt incredibly underdeveloped.

That was the major plot change, to kill Ellie instead of Gage, and it was incredibly ineffective. The rest of the movie attempted to stay true to the original film with more twists and turns. Even the song at the end was a cover of the Ramones Pet Sematary played at the end of the 1989 film.

Gage was actually the last to survive and whether his dead wendigo family ever put him in their ranks will forever be left untold, unless they make a sequel. Instead of a broken and defeated Dr. Creed at the end, it was a happy dead family, including Church who was euthanized in the first film, slowly approaching poor Gage who was locked in the family sedan.

I’m expecting more Stephen King remakes, but hopefully, they’ll take better care if they’re going to remake the best of his collection. It’s a shame that this one fell flat. They took an already disturbing, morbid, sad story, and turned it into a skeleton. I needed more from the characters, the ambience, everything. 5/10. Prove me wrong. Most of the time, the original is better.