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Death Tube (2010)
Director: Y�hei Fukuda

review by A.E. Grace

I'll begin by saying this about the film: it is mental. If you've ever watched any Japanese game shows, daytime TV, or even their beloved and highly acclaimed anime, then my response of 'huh?' followed by an unsettling sense of delight and intrigue won't be that surprising to you.

If I could mix up a little tester-pot of 'death tube' for you, then it'd include one J-rock singer, three Pudsey-bears spliced with the paedo-bear, a variety of anime-esque over-dramatised expressions, and Heather from Silent Hill 3. Yes, I'm being serious. And what's weirder is that you're feeling intrigued now, aren't you? You're thinking: this is too odd to miss out on. Well you're right; you really should see this for yourself.

Death Tube (aka: X Game) runs along the same vein as the Saw films, which, if I'm honest, do very little to impress me, barring the first one. Do they gross me out? Yes. Is that enough to truly horrify me? No. Good horror today demands that you get psychological, and I'm ashamed to say that most contemporaries fail to grasp this. They just don't make psychological gems like Jacob's Ladder any more.

To me, the Saw films are a case of the emperor's new clothes. Time and time again we're subdued to the same old blood-and-guts routine with a rather unsatisfying plot, and characters who serve no other purpose than to drive the plot forward. I won't lie - Death Tube is hardly an exception. However, it did have a lot to offer in regards to cheesy entertainment.

Death Tube is about a group of people who find themselves doing horrid tasks and solving puzzles in separate rooms, whilst conferring with one another via webcam on the 'Death Tube' website. Yes, it is a play on YouTube. They must decide how best to clear each stage of the game without sacrificing members, which inevitably goes wrong. They must also reach certain moral aims by the end.

Instead of the clown-puppet announcing that he wants to play a game, we get the freaky Pudsey-paedo-bear who talks like a deranged Japanese game-show host. Think 'Mr Sparkle!' from The Simpsons. Next we have a series of silly challenges rather reminiscent of the show Banzai, and get to watch the contestants selfishly batting one another out the way so they can get across humorous obstacles such as "the slimy pond," which is basically a wet tarpaulin sheet.

Viewers also get to watch a young girl who resembles Heather from Silent Hill 3 stumble about on her bandy legs in an adorable outfit, whilst the male lead repeatedly helps her up off the floor. She is basically a human version of Buttercup from The Power Puff Girls. There are plenty more features like this throughout the film, which submersed me in the fun side of Japanese culture if anything. I guess that's what kept me interested. This film dares to be different from the norm, and let's face it - is the norm even worth watching nowadays?

This movie is completely crazy. But you know what? It kept me watching, and better still, I was very entertained. True, the head-drilling scenes and buckets of pink corn syrup might not be up to today's standards, and this is certainly no blockbuster. At best it could be a cult B-movie, which is unsurprising given how good the Japanese are at creating a sense of novelty about their productions. If this film was about a bunch of cockneys, two bimbos and Alan Sugar's voice in place of the Pudsey-paedo-bear then it would've bored me to tears.

I'm surprised to say it, but I actually loved this movie. It kept me entertained, and if a film manages to keep the viewer's interest, even if it isn't in the way they intended - to scare them, in this case - then hasn't that film succeeded in some way? I think so. Death Tube is a quirky, and fun addition to any horror film collection.

Death Tube



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