Part one of the Yokai Monsters trilogy, "100 Monsters (One Hundred Ghost Stories)" features at least a dozen, if not a hundred actual folkloric Japanese monsters, battling a greedy merchant who's making a land grab and out to destroy a sacred shrine. Monsters don't like that and band together to form a impenetrable army of supernatural aggression. Worth noting is the eerie soundtrack which I believe is heavy on the theremin, going something like this: Oooh OOOOOOH Oooh Oooooh (horn section: Wah wah waaaah).
What are Yokai Monsters? Glad you asked. I recently discovered a new guide to Yokai Monsters, Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide by Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt, that shares with English-speakers the legend and lore of many of Japan's supernatural, folkloric beasties of the night. The creatures of this film are based on tales that are hundreds, if not thousands of years old. And despite the dated quality of the story, sets and concept, the monster scenes are truly strange, mysterious and otherworldly. There is a respect for the monsters that comes through, even the tickling umbrella spirit!
True, this post might wreck the pleasure of monster surprises in store for you if you rent the DVD, but you were just going to fast-forward the dull human drama for the monster scenes anyway, weren't you? At least that's what I did. Grouped in no particular narrative order, by monster. And now...
Tsuchi Korobi - kind of a Bigfoot forest creature with only one (red) eye. He catches his prey with wind and constantly waving arms, while chuckling with merriment.
Nopperabou - Faceless Ghosts.
Rokurokkubi - Long (or Rubber) Neck. She lives to terrify her victims and it shows. Just look at the joy in her face.
I just want to say, if any of you out there ever dated me and I made you feel this way, I'm sorry. I can't help my monster nature.
Karakasa - Spirit-filled Umbrella. He lives to tickle you and dance. With his one eye, bouncing leg and extra-long tongue, he is indeed, quite peculiar.
Yeah, what he said.
I don't know this guy's name but I wouldn't mess with him. And not just because he can breathe fire and beat you silly in an acrobatic sword fight.
But because he comes with a lot of back-up.
This giant lady is not to be trifled with either. And the more distressed you appear, the more she laughs at your predicament. And not even maniacally. More like this: Ha ha, Ha ha, Ha ha HAH!
I love this guy, whoever he is (I still have to get the guidebook. I wonder if Powell's has it. Yes, of course they do). He seems to be commander-in-chief of the monster army, which must be quite unruly with all its slow-motion cartwheels, hopping about and fisticuffs.
My very favorite monster is in this scene. Can you guess which one?
It's the big guy on the right. He looks like he might have a few good stories in him.
Now the monsters really celebrate with a parade and lots of hopping about.
Hey, what's that?
Yeah--what IS that thing?
Until the last one disappears into the churning, haunted lake beyond...
One last tickle.