One of the most influential J-Horror movie series has been compiled on to Blu-Ray for the first time in typical Arrow Video deluxe fashion for cineastes and fans alike. Anyone that loves the “Ringu” movie series will enjoy how the series is compiled in basic chronological order rather than release date order (Oddly enough the 2002 American remake and “Sadako vs. Kayako” are not included). Despite “Ringu” being one of the most influential entry of its kind (giving way to the superior remake, which rocketed the big J-Horror boom of the aughts), the movies have never really seen a Blu-Ray release. But that’s changed as Arrow has brought fans a wonderful new set.
This excellently packaged release from Arrow is housed in a chipboard slipbox, with the three white keep cases. The collectibles include a pamphlet sized booklet that has some interesting essays as well as technical and cast information. Ringu 0 from 2000 features malevolent spirit Sadako residing in the infamous videotape that kills all who watch it. We focus on young Sadako (Yukie Nakama) became increasingly aware of her unusual supernatural powers, inherited from her professional psychic mother. One day in 1957, Sadako’s mom gives a public illustration of her uncanny abilities. Borrowing somewhat from “Carrie,” this prequel from Norio Tsuruta explores Sadako’s inevitable descent in to evil and the supernatural. Although not very celebrated, this is an interesting chapter in Sadako’s origin.
The Blu-Ray features an Audio Commentary by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Spooks, Sighs and Videotape the thirty seven minute pieace by Jasper Sharp who explores the J-Horror phenomenon, A Behind the Scenes Featurette (In Japanese with English subtitles) a twenty one minutes which indludes candid footage. There are also seven minutes of Deleted Scenes, the original Theatrical trailer, and the Ring 0 / Isola Double Bill Trailer. Ringu from 1998 is the classic from Hideo Nakata revolving around reporter Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) who sets out to investigate when her niece is found dead with her three friends after viewing a mysterious VHS tape. Along with her ex-husband, Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada), Reiko finds the tape, watches it — and promptly receives a phone call informing her that she has seven days before she’s killed.
Determined to get to the bottom of the curse, Reiko and Ryuji discover the video’s origin and attempt to solve an old murder that could break the spell. I’m not a very big fan of Nakata’s horror entry as it’s a bit muddled, and dull at times. I much prefer the remake which has a better sense of dread. In either case, it’s a classic that bears experimentation as it set off a big trend in horror for a few years there. The Blu-Ray includes an Audio Commentary by David Kalat, The Ring Legacy a twenty seven minute retrospective on the original film and series filled with spoilers. I recommend seeing the whole film series before diving in to this. A Vicious Circle is a twenty one minute new interview with Kat Ellinger where she discusses Hideo Nakata and the entire Ring series, Circumnavigating Ring is a twenty five minute video essay by Alexander Heller-Nicholas who discusses the Ring curse. It’s a fascinating piece.
There’s the original Sadako’s Video. Oh yes. Do you dare? There are two Ring / Spiral Double Bill Trailers, the UK Trailer, and an Image Gallery courtesy of Diego Lopez and Phillip Escott. Ringu 2 from 1999 is Hideo Nakata’s follow up centering on Mai (Miki Nakatani) who begins investigating the death of her boyfriend. She learns of the existence of the dreaded videotape that causes those who watch it to die. Journalist Reiko (Nanako Matsushima) and her young boy who previously watched the tape and survived, meet Mai who finds them and learns that the child is fighting off possession by Sadako. As Mai tries to help them, Sadako’s spirit comes after her, too. This was heavily cribbed to be remade in to the goofy “The Ring 2.” Despite Nakata being behind it, the movie stunk, but “Ringu 2” is slightly better.
The disc includes The Psychology of Fear, a twenty five minute archival interview with original Ring author Koji Suzuki. It is in Japanese with English subtitles and is newly edited by Arrow Video. Finally, there’s the Ring 2 UK Trailer, the Ring 2 / Shikoku Double Bill Trailer, and the Ring / Spiral Double Bill Trailer. Spiral from 1998 is included on the “Ringu 2” disc because it’s basically a direct sequel to “Ring.” It was released almost at the same time as “Ringu” as a way of increasing grosses. “Spiral” centers on pathologist Dr. Andô who, while examining the body of his friend Takayama, finds a cryptic note in her stomach, Andô does some investigating and soon learns of the mysterious videotape, which is haunted by the spirit of a murdered woman. The rumors are that anyone who watches the video will die exactly one week later.
Still grieving the death of his own child, and believing that he is being guided by his friend’s ghost, Andô decides to see the video for himself. After watching the tape, strange things begin happening around him, and he soon discovers that the tape’s restless spirit has different plans in store for him. The features include the twenty five minutes The Psychology of Fear, an interesting archival interview with original Ring author Koji Suzuki, in Japanese with English subtitles. Finally, there is the Ring 2 UK Trailer, the Ring 2 / Shikoku Double Bill Trailer, and the Ring / Spiral Double Bill Trailer.