SCARY TRUE STORIES
(1 Honto ni atta kowai hanashi; 2 Honto ni atta kowai hanashi: Dai-ni-ya; 3 Shin honto ni atta kowai hanashi: Yuugen-kai)
As is always the case with stories in an anthology, the episodes in Scary True Stories are often variable. Many are very slight like The Lonely Girl where a teenage girl is locked in the gymnasium swimming changing rooms and all that happens is a hand appearing over a toilet cubicle; or Be Gone Crone where little more happens than a scary face appears at a window and the young girl says an incantation to banish it. There are however several episodes that do produce a number of good scares the moment the bloody dead body slams against the skylight in Mystery of the Red Earring; or the group progressing through the haunted gymnasium in The Gymnasium in Summer with the woman in a red dress fading in and out.
The best of the episodes is The Hospital at Midnight, which evinces some fine atmosphere like the scene where the two nurses stand in the hallway and a man passes them, before the other nurse informs the heroine that he died the previous night; a hand reaching out for the heroine as she falls and then pulling her through the hall; a body being invisibly dragged from one of the rooms. The other extremely good episode is Paralysis, which creates the genuine sense of a nightmare with a psychedelic trip accompanied by a bloody head on the end of the bed and hands appearing to hold the heroine down.
Other episodes seem on the verge of building atmosphere but never go far enough House of Restless Spirits builds some uncanny ambience with the appearances of the man following the family in the street and the same girl reappearing but just when it seems about to build to a story the episode wimps out and reveals that the grave prophecy from the psychic refers to the family that moved into the house after the current one; while similarly My Friend at the Stairwell builds a slight story but falls prey to a sentimental ending; and Black Hair in the Abandoned Building has lots of creeping around the abandoned building but not much atmosphere or shock.
The various episodes feel more like a series of tabloid headlines than they ever do fully developed stories. Compare the stories here to something like the Amicus anthologies of the 1960s/70s, which took the time to build each brief piece into a full story. The photography throughout often seems grainy rather amateurish and the sound effects and music tinny, as though the entire production has been shot by student camera-people.
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