Hiroku the goblin (Yôkai hantâ: Hiruko) Review

Movie: Hiroku the goblin (Yôkai hantâ: Hiruko)
By: Maniac E
Date: September 26, 2011

Human heads with spider legs

Hiroku the goblin has always been a bit of the black sheep of early j-horror. The movie was made to attract more western people to Japanese horror movies. It was released in 1991 but ended up being a poor sell. J-horror was evolving in the early 90tees, and this was one of the casualties in that time. Shinya Tsukamoto was one of the biggest upcoming directors around that time. His sci-fi/horror movie Tetsuo: The Iron Man left most critics speechless. Tsukamoto had been looking at too many US horror films.


The summer for student Masao begins differently than he had hoped. First his father disappears without a trace, then the beautiful classmate with whom he is in love with disappears. Then his eccentric uncle appears on the scene to tell him that his school is built on a gateway to hell. As Masao's friends are turning into insect-like monsters and his classmate have murder tendencies, he understands that the port is opened: the evil being Hiruko wants revenge. Masao and his uncle, should do everything possible to prevent Hiruko to escape from his underground prison.


If you take a look at the Japanese horror genre, you will quickly come to the conclusion that "Hiruko, the Goblin," a stranger in our midst is. The film does not meet the standard formula which is typical of the modern exponents of the movement known as J-horror. No lengthy silences and drawn out dialogue, carefully crafted horror scenes of female and juvenile ghostly apparitions. The older, extremely violent films like "Evil Dead Trap" or "Guinea Pig' series differ radically from the work of Tsukamoto.


What can the unsuspecting viewer expect when watching “Hiruko, the Goblin”? A partly American-style horror film that nevertheless firmly rooted in Japanese soil. Technical Tsukamoto style has clearly been inspired by looking at the "Evil Dead' series of Sam Raimi. Also "Hiruko, the Goblin" is a movie that redeems absurdist humor with violent scenes in which the blood splash on your screen and gentle manner with few limbs are separated from human bodies. Horror with a wink so. In particular, the severed heads of his friends, girlfriend and father of protagonist Masao arthropod creatures that mutate to form an original and hilarious early discovery, no doubt inspired by the handcrafted masterpiece "The Thing" by John Carpenter.


Despite this American influence "Hiruko, the Goblin" still is a typical, authentic Japanese product, firmly rooted in the rich mythological storytelling tradition of the country. The creature named Hiruko is in fact also an ancient Japanese story from, the Kojiki. The Kojiki tells the story the creation of the Japanese archipelago "Japan". Hiruko, according to this story is the first, deformed child of the primitive gods Izanagi and Izanami. The divine pair renounces Hiruko and let it float away on a raft monstrosity of the primordial soup. Tsukamoto Hiruko late in his back and carries the film as being a vengeful entity with one goal: the extermination of humanity, the blessed offspring of Izanagi and Izanami . The music and a strong dose of surrealism give “Hiruko, the Goblin "in many ways still a typical oriental touch.


Tsukamoto has never made a movie that didn’t elicit my interest in every way, and even when working with someone else’s material you get the feeling he really is having a great time just being behind the camera. I do suspect Tsukamoto did Hiruko as a way of commanding a bigger budget for projects like Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, which came immediately after Hiruko. That or he did Hiruko to prove he could make a perfectly commercial horror/fantasy movie with one hand tied behind his back, as that’s more or less what we have here. It’s good, but face it, he’s done much better elsewhere.


In the cinemas, this experimental piece by Shinya Tsukamoto was no great success. Of course, the production is certainly a thing to be desired. The effects are not always the epitome of sophistication and the film makes the occasional cartoon feeling noticeable. Yet "Hiruko, the Goblin," is an original, energetic, quirky and certainly enjoyable movie . In many ways a relief when you look at the unimaginative uniformity that is currently plaguing the Japanese horror genre.



Hiroku the goblin (Yôkai hantâ: Hiruko)


Hiroku the goblin (Yôkai hantâ: Hiruko)


Shin'ya Tsukamoto






Kenji Sawada, Masaki Kudou, Hideo Murota