Tuesday, July 12

Follow-up: The Devils Japanese Bootleg and thoughts on the flick...

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Originally I was going to pop this into the comments section on the initial entry about this shady boot, but since this has garnered healthy attention, a follow-up is in order. Before anything else, thanks must go to Jack J. over at the always informative En lejemorder ser tilbage for spreading the word on his several blogs and video-related forums. Thanks again!

In short, the deception of the outer packaging carries through on the tape. Even when rewinding the VHS all the way to the leader, there is nothing but clean video black before the feature begins. No flickering, rolls, or blue screens that might indicate the starting of a recording from another source (like a DVD player). There's nothing but black, Tokuma Video's logo, Japanese title screen, and then the film starts. There's zero "digitalness" or other anomalies to indicate something is amiss throughout The Devil's ninety minutes. Just like the Japanese VHS, the film is presented in dubbed English, a murky widescreen ratio, and has Japanese subtitles in the bottom black bar with English opening credits. 

After the credits, there's two Japanese text screens and blackness until the end of the cassette. The tape is also a T-105, so there's very little left on the reel after the standard play-recorded film ends. You'd think a sloppier bootlegger might have been lazy and used a lengthier blank or a faster (and poorer) recording speed. Nope, not here, just like the real thing.

As for the Taiwanese The Devils (on-screen title: The Devil), it's in-line with early '80s Hong Kong slimers such as Centipede Horror (1984) and Calamity of Snakes (1983). Basically an excuse to gross out audiences with actors spitting up green bile and real live slithery creatures from their mouths in violent, leeringly shot death sequences. The "other" stuff comprising the ambling plot is mostly a chore, not helped by an annoying boy nicknamed "Ding-Dong" acting as comic relief, to get to the next wormy regurgitation.

A deceivingly suave con artist, dubbed in English with a British accent (?!), weds the daughter of a wealthy Inn owner in order to, well, it's obvious. After the honeymoon bliss ends; the man reveals himself to be a real asshole, steals all the assets, and provokes his wife's father into a fatal coronary amidst a heated confrontation. Now its up to the mystic auntie of the family to place a disastrous hex on the murderer, but she's first visited by the mutilated spectre of a girl that's been haunting the man...

Despite the presence of worms, snakes, and eels as the agents of internal doom, The Devil mostly reminded me of the much more recent Art of the Devil (2004). Like that Thai exercise in gore, the wafer-like exposition is bathed in a sunny, ever-idyllic representation of contemporary living. Upon night fall, things detour into a harsh contrast of grisly body melts, poisonings, and stake burnings. Then we're back to an almost IKEA catalog photo of life, even when the con man is revealed in all his filthy glory. It's not a hidden classic; however, it's an interesting early snapsnot of what scared audiences in the Far East. Gorehounds might be disappointed as the disgusting downfalls only count for four sequences out of the runtime.

I'm awaiting a reply from the U.S.-based eBay seller on the tape, but I might end up keeping it. The amount paid for the tape equals about what one would pay for a DVD-R copy anyway. And of course this is a much cooler bootleg than a simple disc and it's provided a wealth of information that'll hopefully help others as well. Although things would be MUCH different if I paid around the top end of what the real VHS usually commands...
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know exactly who you bought it from because I got 'burned' by the same A-hole myself! Actually once years ago and once recently on The Devils tape. I don't know how to contact you privately or else I would.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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