Blu-ray Movie Review – The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)

The Happiness of the Katakuris
Directed by Takashi Miike
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD
Release Date: June 16, 2015

the happiness

Director Takashi Miike is a man of great talent and diverse vision. This is evidenced by his extensive filmography. Whereas many of his titles contain dark and gory elements, a few stand out as unique entries into his portfolio because they are not so. THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS is one of these select few. And while it might not have many of Miike’s signature staples, fans of his work will quickly recognize his influences onscreen nonetheless. The film is chocked full of bizarre characters, crazy situations, and a lot of dark humor. If you’re not a fan of Miike already, chances are you will be after this!

If you are not familiar with THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video:

From Takashi Miike, the prolific director of such shocking hits including Audition and Ichi the Killer comes “The Sound of Music meets Dawn of the Dead”! The Katakuris are a family trying to run a peaceful country inn but with a lack of guests there is much excitement for their first visitor, until they wind up dead! As each guest in turn dies in strange circumstances the family agree to hide the bodies but will the coverups come back to haunt them… In The Happiness of the Katakuris, scenes of grotesque stop motion animation, surreal musical numbers and zombies combine to make one of the finest horror-comedies ever made.

If a film’s tagline describes it as “THE SOUND OF MUSIC meets DAWN OF THE DEAD”, how can anybody in their right mind not want to see it? I mean, wow…hooks just don’t get much better than that! This film basically had me at hello.

THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS is a bizarre trek into absurdity, and it is excellent in every aspect. The film is shot well and looks great onscreen, and it even features some nice stop-motion animation at the beginning. Granted, the opening sequences don’t appear to have much to do with the rest of the film, but they are fun to watch nonetheless.

The acting is over-the-top and hammed up nicely, which adds to the charm of this horror-comedy. Usually, I would comment on this in a negative light, but this aspect really seems to work for this film. Given the nature of the subject matter, the crazy characters accent the surrealistic landscape of the film.

And ‘surreal’ is a perfect word to describe THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS. Filled with obscure imagery, kooky scenarios, and even a barrage of nonsensical musical numbers, this is one film you have to see to believe. This Arrow Video Blu-ray release looks amazing in HD and comes with a slew of Special Features that include:

* New High Definition digital film transfer
* Presented in High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD
* Original uncompressed Stereo PCM audio
* Audio commentary by director Takashi Miike
* The Making of the Katakuris – An original documentary from the film’s production featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes footage with the cast and crew
* Interviews with the Katakuris cast members Kenji Sawada, Keiko Matsuzaka, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Shinji Takeda, Naomi Nishida, Tetsuro Tanba and Miike
* Animating the Katakuris – A look at the creation of the film’s stop motion effects with animation director Hideki Kimura and Miike
* Trailer and TV Spots
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
* Booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Johnny Mains and a re-printed interview with Miike conducted by Sean Axmaker, illustrated with original stills

I highly recommend THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS, and I suggest you check it out today.

MSB

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