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(aka "Akumu Tantei" )


directed by Shinya Tsukamoto
Japan 2006


Rookie detective Keiko's (Hitomi) first case is a mysterious suicide of a young woman (a neighbor claims to have heard her screaming for help). When a man commits suicide in front of his wife seemingly while having a nightmare, Keiko ties the two deaths together when she discovers that the two victims phoned someone named "O" shortly before their deaths. Believing that O may have played mind games with the victims and abetted their deaths, the police attempt to capture him in a two-fold manner. They first plan to have a decoy contact the killer pretending to be suicidal and they then make use of the services of the reluctant and suicidal "nightmare detective" Kagenuma (Ryuhei Matsuda) a young man capable of entering peoples' dreams (usually with disastrous outcomes). When the decoy attempt proves unsuccessful, Keiko's partner Wakamiya (Masanobu Ando) calls and makes contact with the killer who suggests that the man is suicidal without even being aware. When Kagenuma is unsuccessful at preventing the killer from claiming Wakamiya, Keiko herself calls the killer but she may have to face off with him alone when a disillusioned Kagenuma refuses to continue probing people's nightmares.

Not as visually audacious as Tsukamoto's earlier films like A SNAKE OF JUNE and TETSUO, NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE looks more like his recent mainstream pieces such as VITAL although there is a continuity of themes beneath the surface of this NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET-esque scenario. The killer's notion that modern people have lost the primal pleasure of living is related to the voyeur's motivation in stalking the repressed heroine of A SNAKE OF JUNE. A dark thread of humor (made less subtle in the English dub) leavens the sometimes banal rendering of urban loneliness and despair (such as shots of urban cityscapes underlined by hundreds of overlapping voices making angry, sad, frustrated, and suicidal exclamations). While Matsuda is an enervating hero, Hitomi gives a good performance despite being saddled with the usual vague haunted past that motivates most movie characters to join the police force. The nightmare effects are not particularly original but the plotting keeps the film distinct from other cellphone-obsessed J-horror films. In 2008, Tsukamoto made a sequel to NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE with Matsuda reprising his lead role.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 13 January 2007 (Japan)

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DVD Review: Weinstein Company (Dimension Extreme) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Weinstein Company

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:46:16

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.85 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 5.1; English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English, English HoH, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Weinstein Company

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• The Making of NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE documentary by Shinya Tsukamoto (4:3; 50:)
• U.S. Trailer (4:3; 2:27)

DVD Release Date: February 19, 2008

Chapters 24





The Weinstein Company's Dimension Extreme edition of NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE is superior to the last Dimension treatment of an Asian horror film I reviewed (VOICES which was presented by Dimension in a barebones, softish transfer with only 2.0 Korean audio even though the original mix was 5.1). The film was shot in both 35mm and HD and the dual-layer progressive transfer renders Tsukamoto's visual nicely (including the intentionally unsteady compositions and manic editing). The audio is available in Japanese 5.1 and English 5.1 with English subtitles, English SDH subtitles, and Spanish subtitles. Although Tsukamoto's film itself is darkly comic to begin with, the English dub (which differs from the subtitles sometimes while other times rendering expository information faster than the Japanese dialogue) throws in some more deadpan humor (which is not a side effect of the bland English vocal performances).

The fifty-five minute making of featurette is especially of interest because it is more than a press kit item since it too is directed by Tsukamoto. The US trailer features English print subtitles, text, and narration. I am not aware of the extras or technical specs of the Japanese R2 edition but the Italian Raro disc has English subtitles for the feature and an interview with the producer (no word on whether it is English friendly but some Raro special editions like PRENOM CARMEN have had subtitled extras) but not the making-of piece. There are also some cheaper barebones HK and Malaysian imports but the Dimension edition should more than suffice.

 - Eric Cotenas


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Region 1 - NTSC

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