Lance Foster (hengruh) wrote,
Lance Foster
hengruh

"Eyes of Fire" (1983) and Japanese Horror ("The Grudge")



"Eyes of Fire" (1983) was a unique film.

The setting is America in pre-Revolutionary times, around the time of the French and Indian War. An unusual young Irish woman with paranormal powers was raised by a preacher. He has a Scots-Irish flock. She saves him from being hung (he likes to play in others' gardens). The faithful core preacher's flock flee down the Ohio River, past the British line into French territory. The Shawnee whose territory the British settlers have invaded are not real happy about this.

The preacher has taken the wife of a backwoodsman who was always leaving his family to go off and hunt in the wilds. He tracks down his family who is with the preacher fleeing from the Shawnee. The frontiersman saves the settlers, and the Shawnee pursue them until they reach a certain tree. Then the Shawnee begin to laugh, and will not go further, for the settlers have come to a very bad valley, a place haunted by angry nature spirits and the ghosts of French settlers who initially settled there.

It turns out the valley is under the control of a sort of a genius loci made of accumulated deaths of innocent animals, the injustice pooled into a sort of dark rage that seeks revenge on anything human. And the movie continues from there.

The feeling of the movie is like a very dark and bizarre family film from the 70s, based on an authentic folk legend.

In some ways it is also like the Japanese horror films of the 90s, especially "The Grudge."

"The success of the 1998 film Ring brought the image of the yūrei to Western popular culture for the first time, although the image has existed in Japan for centuries. Yūrei are Japanese ghosts, ones who have been bound to the physical world through strong emotions which do not allow them to pass on. Depending on the emotion that binds them, they manifest as a particular type of ghost. Most common to Japanese horror is the onryō, a yūrei bound by a desire for vengeance." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_horror)

"It was said that when one person dies with a deep and burning grudge, a curse is born. The curse gathers in the place where that person has died or where he was frequent at (in the series' case, the house in Nerima) and repeats itself there. The curse manifests on those who encounter the curse by any means, such as entering the house or being in contact with somebody who was already cursed. The curse's manifestation is mainly death, where the victims' bodies may or may not disappear. The following deaths create more curses and spreads the curse in other places." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ju-on)

The underlying rationale/mechanism of "Eyes of Fire" is similar. Only instead of the murder of a human being creating this situation, it is the murder of thousands of murdered animals, by human hunters, both white and Indian. This is the source of the title, "Eyes of Fire," for it is the reflection of a campfire in animals' eyes at night.

It's a very interesting film, worth a watch.

(As an aside, it would be an interesting premise to have such a story based on the killing of dolphins and whales by Japanese fishermen, and the animals' vengeful spirits (kami) pooling into some sort of curse at some remote location on the Japanese coast.)
Tags: movie, movies
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