Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricki- The Most Ridiculously Violent Film Ever

          This is a film that completely caught me off guard when I first viewed it. I don’t if it was the insane levels of violence, the incredibly poor special effects, or the bad translations. But once the story started, I could not look away from this ultraviolent bit of ridiculousness.
          Now there have been better translations done over time as word of this film spread and reached cult status, but my initial copy had translated the words literally, without giving thought to the context of the situation. For example, the scene where Ricky is being held in a steel bar cage that wrap around his neck in the warden’s office, one of the villains stuffs a handful of razorblades into Ricky’s mouth then hits him in the head with a pipe wrench six times, causing the blades to stick out through Ricky’s cheeks.
In the translation I had, he spits out the blades and yells, “None of you are a good lot!” See what I mean, not exactly a realistic response to the situation. In later copies of the film, I saw that the line had been translated as, “You son of a bitch!” Which makes more sense, but is not as fun if you are viewing Riki Oh through the so bad its good lens.
The film is based on the Japanese manga Riki-Oh by Masahiko Takajo and Saruwatari Tetsuya. While I have not read the manga, I have been told by people who have that the film follows the events of the book very closely.
This speaks for itself
By the year 2001, all correctional facilities have been privatized. Ricky Ho is sentenced to 10 years in prison after killing a Yakuza boss who was responsible for the death of his girlfriend. Flashback scenes reveal that a group of thugs had captured her after she witnessed their heroin deal. Attempting to get away from them, she ran to the roof of a building and jumped off to her death.
My favorite death in the film
One morning in the prison bathroom, an elderly inmate named Ma is viciously beaten by the captain of the cells, Wildcat. As he leaves, Ricky trips him, and Wildcat falls on a piece of wood with nails on it, hand and face first. The cell captain then sends Zorro, a dangerous fat inmate, kill him. The next day, Zorro attacks Ricky, but is grotesquely killed. Shortly after, a member of the Gang of Four who run each section of the prison named Hai, the leader of the North Cell, sends Ricky to see the sadistic one-eyed Assistant Warden Dan- who is missing an arm and keeps mints hidden in his fake eye. After Ricky confronts Dan, he suggests Hai kill Ricky.
Outside the prison yard, Hai and Ricky engage in a fight. Ricky knocks out Hai’s eye by hitting him in the back of the head. Hai then blinds Ricky by throwing shards of glass into his eyes and cutting the tendons of his arm. Ricky breaks open an water pipe, clears the glass from his eyes and sews his arm back together using his own veins. Hai then cuts out his own intestines and attempts to strangle Ricky, but Ricky flips him up in the air and breaks Hai’s skull.

And so on and so on. It continues with this ridiculousness, until Ricky has defeated the Gang of Four, the evil Assistant Warden, and finally the Warden- who turns into a huge monster at the end (of course) and is defeated by being pushed into a giant meat grinder. I could go on, but the plot is really unimportant. You could watch it with the sound off and easily get as much enjoyment, not knowing what was happening.
There was allegedly a sequel called Dint King, Inside King (aka, Story of Ricky 2 or Super Powerful Man) was released in Hong Kong in 2005, however from what I’ve head the plot does not follow the events that supposedly occur after Ricky breaks out of prison, and is set in the distant future as opposed to 2001 for the first film. However the same actor was hired to play the lead as in Ricki Oh.
Below is the film entire, and a selection of the most graphic bits for those who want to skip to the good parts. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor.
                                                             Full Film
                                              Edited Highlights



Monday, March 14, 2016

A Bunch More Educational Scare Films

As I wrote in two previous articles, Sid Davis Productions contains the greatest collection of over-the-top, pushy, and obnoxious short films aimed at the educational market. The main focus of most of  the Sid Davis catalogue, besides driver safety films, were social conditioning films. Like the pathetic “abstinence-only” & “teach men not to rape” brigades today , Davis felt it was up to the state and underpaid civil servants to lead the way on this cause, as most parents were too stupid to be able to do it properly.  And similar to the infamous "Boys Beware" Davis managed to do it with a heavy handedness that quickly becomes camp once its viewers reach high school age.

      So here is a collection of five more of the most obnoxious educational scare films ever made. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor:
          Moment of Decision (1957): Heavy handed film about car stealing and joy riding.


    Name Unknown (1952): For a thrill she traded her life in order to be a statistic.

   The Dropout (1962): A warning to would be slackers. Stay in school or forever be branded a loser.

Control Your Emotions (1950): Remember feelings are for ethnic people.

Let's be Good Citizens At School (1953): This one seems to be exceptionally dated.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Stone Tape: Great Old School Sci-Fi

Here is a great old piece of British Sci-Fi almost forgotten, and never really known in the States. It was the first teleplay to connect the nature of ghosts with a sort of temporal static loop, a recording from the past, rather than the spirits of the dead still roaming about. For its time it was a rather fantastic concept.
            This was written by the great British Sci-Fi writer Nigel Kneale (whom we discussed in an earlier post The Year of the Sex Olympics), known for bringing the first sci-fi drama to television in The Quatermass Experiment, then for his TV adaptation of Orwell’s 1984 (starring a young Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance).
            Kneale was approached to write a play for the Christmas season and quickly that, in keeping with Christmas tradition, he would write a ghost story, but with a difference – ancient spirits would interplay with modern science. The concept of mixing the supernatural with technology had been a feature of some of Kneale's earlier work – most notably, his 1952 radio play You Must Listen, which concerned a telecommunications engineer who discovers that a telephone line has somehow preserved the final conversation between a woman and her lover before her suicide.
Micheal Bryant in The Stone Tape
            The story is as follows: Peter Brock is the head of a research team attempting to develop a new recording medium. The team moves into a an old Victorian mansion that has been renovated for their use. After arriving, they discover that the overhaul of one of the rooms is unfinished, the builders having refused to work in it because it is supposedly haunted.
Jane Asher in The Stone Tape
     The room, with its stone walls, is a remnant of the original building, with foundations dating back to the Saxon era. Curious, the researchers explore the room and hear the sounds of a woman running followed by a gut-wrenching scream. Jill an emotionally sensitive computer programmer, has a vision of a woman running up the steps in the room and falling to her death. Some research uncovers that a young maid died in that room during Victorian times and that an unsuccessful exorcism had previously been performed on the property.
Brock hypothesises that it is not a ghost, but that somehow the stone in the room has preserved an image of the girl's death—this "stone tape" may be the new recording medium they have been seeking. Their scientific devices fail to detect any evidence of the phenomena the team experience, and team members encounter varied degrees of the phenomena: most are able to hear sounds, Jill can also see images, but another member of the team experiences no sensory input. Jill suggests that the "tape" does not produce actual sound or light, but instead interfaces with the human nervous system to create the impressions sound and vision, and some individuals are more sensitive to this than others. She surmises that the recordings are imprinted in moments of extreme emotion, like a kind of telepathy.
Excited by the possibilities presented by a recording medium which uses a person's own senses as the means of recording and playback, Brock and his team move into the room. They bombard it with their technology, hoping to find the secret of the "stone tape" and have it play on demand. When they repeatedly fail, a last desperate attempt "wipes the recording" and some team members break under the strain. Brock's failures are compounded when he is informed by his superiors that the facility is to be shared with a rival research team working on a new washing machine.
Embittered, Brock no longer wants anything to do with the project. But after researching the failed exorcism from the 1800s, Jill presents the theory that the stone tape can be recorded over again and again and that the maid's death was simply the most recent recording. Jill discovers that the maid's death was masking a much older recording, left many thousands of years ago. Brock cruelly dismisses her findings, and forces Jill to take a two-month leave to prevent her from continuing her research.
     Returning to the room one last time, Jill's senses are besieged by a powerful, malevolent presence from the much-degraded older recording. Like the maid before her, she dies while frantically trying to escape it.
During an inquest, Brock tries to save face by claiming that Jill was mentally unstable. He then destroys all of her research without reading it. He makes a final visit to the room and discovers to his horror that the stone tape has made a new recording—that of Jill screaming his name as she dies.
The Stone Tape really is a remarkable film and it has one of those rare endings that stay with you long after viewing. It is a masterpiece of intelligent horror sci-fi. No jump scares here, just a steady increase of tension which does not let up. Like the room itself, the more exposure you have to The Stone Tape the deeper your perception of the possibilities are.
                                         The Stone Tape- Full Movie