Monday, September 20, 2010

The Great Horror Family

The Great Horror Family
AKA Kaiki Daikazoku
Directed by Takashi Shimizu,Kenji Murakami, Keisuke Toyoshima, Yudai Yamaguchi
Released: 2004
Starring Shunji Fujimura, Tomiko Ishii, Shoichiro Masumoto, Shigeru Muroi, Shoko Nakahara, Issei Takahashi
Running Time: 444 minutes (13 episodes + extras)
Country of Origin: Japan

When the Imawano family moves into their new house, something just ain’t right. Grandpa (played by Shunji Fujimura) knows that there is an evil presence lurking in that house. He calls a family meeting in order to make a big announcement but drops dead before he can warn them. That night, Kiyoshi (Issei Takahashi), the youngest male of the Imawanos meets up with Grandpa’s spirit who informs him that he has inherited great psychic powers and that he must prepare himself to save his family from a great crisis. Grandpa doesn’t know what the crisis is but he suspects that it has something to do with their extremely haunted house.

The Great Horror Family is still one of my favorite impulse buys of all time. I took one look at the cover (which tricked me into thinking this was animated) and the synopsis on the back and I knew I could not leave the store without this series. The show is equal parts wacky comedy, horror spoof, and heartfelt family drama. All manner of Japanese horror films, sci-fi, urban legends, and traditional ghost folklore are poked fun at here.

All of the characters are loveable in The Great Horror Family and the cast gets into their performances making it look like this show was a complete blast to work on. Grandpa and Grandma (played by Tomiko Ishii) are the cutest old people ever and their comic timing is awesome. Issei Takahashi (of Meatball Machine) is hilarious as the unlikely and reluctant hero, Kiyoshi. His mom, Yuko (Shigeru Muroi), is a childish woman who is a little on the slow side but she knows just what to do when things are looking grim.

Kiyoshi’s sister, Kyoko (Asuka Shibuya), has great potential as a psychic but doesn’t believe in the spiritual realm. Not yet, anyway. And finally, there’s Osamu (Moro Morooka of Infection), Kiyoshi’s father, who is the most interested in the world of the unknown and the unexplainable. However, he has no supernatural abilities whatsoever. Other great characters include a gothic Lolita shop owner who sells supernatural items that cause nothing but pain and suffering and a wandering monk (Shoichiro Masumoto) who gets run over by a truck before he can help the Imawano family.

While it helps to be familiar with Japanese pop and horror culture, it isn’t a requirement to enjoy The Great Horror Family. The comedy is very broad and often quite slapstick so it translates quite well. Everything from the well written characters to the bizarrely hypnotic theme song to the family dog is totally perfect. I think I have fallen in love with this show but I’m going to marry it or anything. Jeez, that would be weird.

No comments:

Post a Comment