Newest Reviews
For All Mankind
Glass Key, The
Captor, The
Hide in Plain Sight
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese
Heiress, The
Cold Pursuit
Dogs of War, The
Holy Mountain, The
Under Fire
Jennifer on My Mind
People on Sunday
Lethal Weapon 4
Downhill Racer
Escape Room
Across the Pacific
Madeline's Madeline
You're Gonna Miss Me
Iron Sky: The Coming Race
Mortal Engines
Union City
Little Stranger, The
Watermelon Man
Wandering Earth, The
Good Fairy, The
Killer Party
Holmes & Watson
Monster in the Closet
Sand, The
My Brilliant Career
Newest Articles
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
Oh, What Happened to You? The Likely Lads on Blu-ray
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
  Hiruko the Goblin Head GirlBuy this film here.
Year: 1991
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Stars: Kenji Sawada, Masaki Kuduo, Hideo Murota, Naoto Takenaka, Megumi Ueno, Cho Bang-ho, Ken Mitsuishi, Imari Tsuji, Kimiko Yo
Genre: Horror
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Heida Reijirou (Kenji Sawada) used to be one of the most promising archaeologists around, that was until a tragedy befell him which thwarted his blossoming career. He still works in the field, and has invented various devices to assist himself, but none of his contemporaries really take him seriously, though there may be a chance for him to redeem whatever poor reputation he has, if he can muster the courage for it. Some distance away from his current dig, there has been a discovery in a cavern beneath a school, and one of the tutors, Mr Yabe (Naoko Takenaka) is investigating...

But he only gets so far before his noggin is claimed by whatever exists down there in this, the film Shinya Tsukamoto made as his first major studio production after making waves internationally with his mindbending science fiction film Tetsuo: The Iron Man. As such, it was regarded as, if not selling out, then a step towards the mainstream which at the time had fans of his out there work disappointed when it appeared he had crafted a horror flick that any journeyman Japanese director could have made, though Hiruko the Goblin did pick up a few fans who discerned some of the artist's recognisable style.

In truth this was a generic entry in the J-horror stakes before the long-haired ghosts truly took over, yet it did have some amusing qualities, and the director would contradict those who saw this as a simple job for hire, as he would point out this was similar to the films he would make on Super-8 as a younger, budding moviemaker. There was certainly that derivative quality of a talent finding his own voice through his major influences here, except his adherents would have thought he had already done so with Tetsuo, and that Hiruko was a retrograde step. Not to worry, before long we had Tetsuo II and a plethora of other demented fantasies, which did rather leave this unassuming effort forgotten about.

On its own terms, Hiruko was fairly entertaining, and if you didn't know who the director was your high hopes would likely be at a more reasonable pitch as the schoolboy son of Yabe, Masao (Masaki Kudou), has a problem with his back in that every so often he will fall to his knees, his skin steaming, and a little face will appear there. He doesn't know it at first, but these faces belong to those who have succumbed to the power of the goblins, and soon as night falls he loses his two friends who show up decapitated, then ends up stalked through the school corridors by the head of the girl he fancies, Reiko (Megumi Ueno) which has grown legs and is scurrying about like a spider, just like a special effect in John Carpenter's The Thing.

Only not quite as accomplished, as the effects here were on the cheesy side, though no less fun for that, with hints you were not supposed to take this too seriously in the goofy reactions Masao and Heida have to the terrors they are faced with. Sawada, one time pop idol with Japan's answer to The Monkees in The Tigers, plays up the silly angle as he wields a specially created detector complete with red, flashing light, and there's a lot of running about to be contended with should you decide to watch Hiruko, though not perhaps as much gore as you might have expected, bonces popping off bodies aside. Tsukamoto still had an eye for an arresting image, such as Reiko's face emerging from the waters of the local pond and singing away as mist flows past her, though more often those visuals would be of the absurd variety, long tongues on the possessed goblins and all. Really the only problem here was while it got pretty crazy, it never got as hugely outrageous as it kept threatening to, leaving a minor work, but enjoyable. Music by Tatsushi Umegaki.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1326 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Shinya Tsukamoto  (1960 - )

Japanese writer/director and actor whose controversial, stylised films have bought him considerable notoriety in the West. His 1988 sci-fi body-horror debut Tetsuo: The Iron Man was a hit at international film festivals, and he followed it with the colour sequel/remake, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer. Other films include the supernatural yarn Hiruko the Goblin, boxing fetish tale Tokyo Fist, the urban drama Bullet Ballet, erotic thriller A Snake of June and mental breakdown drama Kotoko.

Review Comments (1)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Rachel Franke
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
George White


Last Updated: