(aka 'The Black House' or 'Kuroi ie')

Directed by Yoshimitsu Morita
Japan 1999


Product Description: A meek agent at the Showa Life Insurance company receives a phone call from a customer who says that she's planning to commit suicide and wants to know if her policy will pay out. Concerned about her safety, the agent visits her house only to find that her young son has hanged himself. As he investigates further, more and more people connected with this family start having accidents. And if he s not careful, he might be next.


Hara's latest fright fest is "Kuroi Ie (The Black House)," a film whose story of a deadly insurance scam echoes recent headlines, but was actually conceived three years ago, from a best-selling novel of the same title by Yusuke Kishi. The director, Yoshimitsu Morita, also helmed "Shitsurakuen," the drama of adulterous middle-aged love that was the biggest live-action domestic film of 1997, and "Keiho," a dark psycho-thriller that was screened in competition at the 1999 Berlin Film Festival. The cast, headed by Shinobu Otake, Masaaki Uchino and Masahiko Nishimura, includes some of the most highly regarded and hardest-working actors in Japan. In short, this movie is no drive-in quickie.

Excerpt from The Japan Times located HERE


Theatrical Release: November 13th, 1999 - Tokyo

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DVD Review: Tokyo Shock - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Tokyo Shock Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:00:12 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.94 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Tokyo Shock

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical trailer (1:11 - 4:3 letterboxed widescreen)
• TV Spot (:29)
• Special Announcement (:49)

DVD Release Date: August 26th, 200
Keep Case
Chapters: 12



The image quality seems rather lackluster considering the film is less than 10 years old. It is not particularly detailed and another site reviewing it as 'razor sharp' is just plain wrong. Colors too are dull and somewhat homogenized - noise is prevalent especially in low-lit scenes and in monochromatic black backgrounds. It is dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic but overall is unremarkable and somewhat dull but certainly Tokyo Shock presents the film in an easily watchable format. I wonder how this would fair in 1080P resolution? Good news is that I don't see excessive manipulation and the image is very clean of damage and speckles.

Audio comes in two flavors - 2.0 (default) and 5.1 - that smells like an ineffectual bump with little to no activity out of the rear speakers. It is clear and consistent for dialogue which is supported with optional English subtitles in a bright yellow, thick, font (see sample below). Extras amount to less than 3 minutes (in total) of a theatrical trailer (1:11 - 4:3 letterboxed widescreen), a TV Spot (:29) and a Special Announcement (:49) about the film. There are also some Tokyo Shock advert trailers.

I'm certainly no Horror genre expert, but I'm more advanced than a novice and I liked this to some degree - a great concept for a film. It had the right level of creepiness melding with an 'average man' situation. The 'never-dying' evil extended far too long, but it seems an acceptable hazard of tackling the modern thriller/horror these days. The DVD seems over-priced for what is being offered, but fans of Japanese horror may be right at home with The Black House just don't get any high expectations for this digital package.  

Gary W. Tooze


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