Rampo Noir (Rampo jigoku)

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Directors Suguru Takeuchi, Akio Jissoji, Hisayasu Sato, and Atsushi Kaneko team to adapt four stories by acclaimed early-20th Century Japanese mystery novelist Taro Hirai, who penned his suspenseful tales under the telling pseudonym Edogawa Ranpo. Maverick Japanese indie star Tadanoby Asano stars in all four segments of the macabre omnibus. Takeuchi's "Mars' Canal," sets things into motion as a naked man (Asano) wandering through a desolate alien landscape recounts a sexual encounter that quickly took a violent turn. The second segment, directed by Jissoji and entitled "Mirror Hell," finds detective Kogoro Akechi (Asano) investigating the mysterious deaths of two young women. Upon discovering that mirrors crafted by malevolently handsome stationary shop master Toru Itsuki (Hiroki Narimiya) and that the mirror-maker knew both of the victims intimately, the investigation takes an unsettling turn that leads the detective to believe the occult may be involved. Director Sato's "Caterpillar," which comprises the third segment of the film, follows a quadruple amputee war veteran (Nao Omori) who returns from the battlefield only to face sadistic abuse at the hands of his nubile but resentful wife (Yukiko Okamoto). As a local artist (Ryuhei Matsuda) begins to take a morbid interest in the couple's twisted relationship, Detective Akechi (Asano) does his best to crack the strange case. Kaneko's "Crawling Bugs" rounds out the frightful quartet of tales by detailing the psychotic coupling between a well-known actress (Tamaki Ogawa) and her introverted driver (Asano), who longs to satisfy the sultry starlet in the same manner as her rough-handed lover (again Asano). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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