Title: Karaoke Terror

Also known as:
Karaoke Terror: The Complete Showa Era Song Book
Showa Kayo Daizenshu

Year: 2003

Genre: Dark Comedy / Exploitation

Language: Japanese

Runtime: 112 min

Director: Tetsuo Shinohara

Writer: Sumio Omori, Ryu Murakami

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436769/

Two groups of karaoke lovers, one being a group of early 20-something guy's who love to get together and put on extravagant shows, only for themselves. The other being a group of middle-aged 30-something women who are all named Midori, cross paths that involves one of the boys killing one of the women after being rejected for a romp in the sack. Soon a bloody war is fought for revenge, with neither group wanting to stop until they come out the victor, or they're all dead. Which ever comes first.

Our thoughts:
No one makes movies like the Japanese do. Well not just movies, even their TV shows and adult movies are on an entirely different playing field compare to everyone else. When they are making something that is intended to be grotesque or disturbing, not only do they make it but it's usually done to the 10th power. Then they make some truly quirky movies, ones that you can't help but love and get a kick out of watching simply do to the fact it is nothing like you have ever seen before.

Sure it seems only obvious that the Japanese would make a flick with karaoke being apart of it since it is a pretty popular activity to do in their culture. Though it doesn't really play as much of a predominant role as the title or the plot outline may lead you to believe. The first time I read about "Karaoke Terror," I was thinking a movie that was going to be along the lines of "A Clockwork Orange" or "The Warriors," except with a karaoke theme. Instead the karaoke plays as a factor to show the similarity between the group of middle-aged women and the young men, as well as allowing us to see into the mentality of these characters just a bit by showing us how important karaoke is to them. It's not just about having fun and singing along with some songs, for them its an expression of themselves and a means of a connection with other people.

"Fine, it doesn't have much to do with karaoke. How about the violence, is it at least chocked full of bloody vengeful violence?!" Eh, no, not really. Since it seems more people are expecting their movies to have little in the way of story and are more action oriented these days. I will warn you, "Karaoke Terror" is not a fast film and there isn't much in the way of violence. Oh yes, when it's there it's damn good. Throat cutting, neck stabbing, gun shot to the head, rocket launchers...That's right, a rocket launcher is used in this movie. Though its not the key factor in the movie, each group takes revenge on the other group every time a member is killed, but it isn't done for the sake of violence. Rather they kill members of the opposing groups from the ideals of upholding honor through revenge. So sure there are enough scenes of people being killed to keep the blood lust going, but the movie spreads these scenes out and fills in the slots with the characters coming to terms with death and revenge, all the while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy.

What really keeps this movie glued together is that it is all done in the name of comedy. A dark comedy in every sense of the word. Sure it's not really funny when a young man is stabbed in the neck with a butcher knife tied to the end of a broom, but when he's laying on the ground, blood spraying in the air and suddenly starts to urinate as well. You can't help but go, "hehehe." Describing that scene may give the wrong impression of the movie, you might be expecting something like "The Gore Gore Girls" where it's done completely over the top. It's really not, (not entirely anyways) the movie does have an intelligence to its humor, allowing you to laugh when you shouldn't, but not taking you to the point of being ludicrous. Instead that is saved for the ending. An ending that will either leave you laughing or saying, "Are you fucking kidding me?" I won't say it's for certain, but I couldn't help but shake this feeling of a Takashi Miike inspired ending. Anyone familiar with Miike's work knows how far he is willing to go past the point of reality, especially with the likes of "Dead Alive."

A strange but enjoyable little film that fans of unusual Japanese movies will like, especially fans of Synapse Films' Asian Cult Cinema release line. You'll laugh, you'll cheer for the blood but most importantly, all viewers who watch it will get the message loud and clear. Do not go into karaoke unless you're one hardcore bad-ass, 'cause this shit be brutal.

Positive things:
- One of the better dark comedies I've seen recently.
- The ancient style of Japanese blood-spray.
- Interesting concept.
Negative things:
- More karaoke songs, damn it!
- Bits of CG blood.
- The CG effects used in the end aren't the best.

Gore: 2.5/5
Nudity: 1/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 2/5
Comedy: 3.5/5

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