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Issue #123a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES September 3rd, 2002

(1998; Daiei)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

In the wake of THE RING's substantial success, Japanese horror films are now getting more international exposure, providing some welcome variety for those depressed by the near-dormancy of Euro horror and the on-going creative decline plaguing American genre product. Teenage girl Tsukiko Izumisawa (Mami Nakamura) has been vexed by bad dreams and insomnia for some time. Using hypnosis as a treatment, her therapist (Yoriko Douguchi) suggests that the nightmares are connected to the amnesia Tsukiko has been experiencing, a by-product of an accident she was involved in three years earlier. During one such session, Tsukiko mentions Tomie, the first name of her old classmate, Tomie Kawakami. The doctor is visited by Detective Harada (TETSUO's Tomorowo Taguchi), who has discovered that Tomie was murdered three years earlier, with Tsukiko found at the scene of the crime. As she was already suffering from shock-induced amnesia, Tsukiko's mother convinced her daughter that she had actually been in a traffic accident that took Tomie's life. Harada also reveals that numerous other women named Tomie Kawakami have been murdered throughout the ages, all sharing the same characteristics: they were beautiful, sadistic, and ended up being decapitated by their boyfriends. The cop believes that Tsukiko will soon run afoul of the "latest" Tomie (HYPNOSIS' Miho Kanno), particularly in the wake of some strange murders in Tsukiko's building.

Adapted from a manga, TOMIE eschews overt shocks in favor of a deliberate pace and scattered instances of macabre humor. Director Ataru Oikawa maintains curiosity with some basic but effective creative decisions, like keeping Tomie's face obscured for much of the running time, and through the use of an electronically distorted English language song at various points. One also remains engaged by the bizarre nature of the storyline, which never quite proceeds as expected and remains intriguingly ambiguous about a few key points. There is some bloodletting but Oikawa is largely content to unsettle the viewer with the odd and perverse (like the one-eyed hentai living in the apartment beneath Tsukiko), and the fact that he can do it without flashy visuals or attention deficit editing is just one reason why several Asian horror movies produced during the last few years have proven so much more cogent and memorable than their cynically hip, one-note Western counterparts.

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Mami Nakamura. Image courtesy Universe.

Miho Kanno. Image courtesy Universe.
Universe #5388 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Sync Sound Japanese Language Track

Optional Subtitles In English or Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)

8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips

Letterboxed (1.79:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

95 Minutes

Contains moderate violence and horror, and nudity

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Hong Kong: IIB

It is not clear what gauge this Daiei feature was shot on but the 1.79:1 image is grainy at times and several shot changes are accompanied by nasty glue marks at the top and bottom of the frame. Some sequences are possibly a bit drabber than intended but the transfer is otherwise passable and the monaural sound is fine. A trailer (with permanent Chinese and English subtitles) and four Chinese bios/filmographies are the only extras. Two sequels have followed to date: TOMIE: REPLAY in 2000 and TOMIE: RE-BIRTH in 2001.

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