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Demon Pond (2005) 
Written by: on April 28th, 2008

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, May 25th, 2005
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Keishi Nagatsuka
Cast: Kenichi Endo, Masato Hagiwara, Kitaro, Ryuhei Matsuda, Ryohei, Shinji Takeda, Tetsuro Tamba, Gotaro Tsunashima

DVD released: May 13th, 2008
Approximate running time:
129 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Cinema Epoch
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Synopsis: Yamazawa finds his long lost friend Hagiwara living outside of a remote village with his wife Yuri. Years ago when Hagiwara first arrived in the village he met an elderly man whose dying last request was that Hagiwara makes sure that he rang the bell three times a day to prevent the demons from escaping the pond that imprisons them. The superstitious towns folk don’t believe that there are demons and they blame the recent drought on the cursed bell that Hagiwara protects. The Dragon princess who is trapped inside the pond plots her escape from the pond in hopes of reuniting with her lover who is trapped in another pond. When the superstitious towns’ folk come to take Yuri as a sacrifice while Hagiwara abandon his post as keeper of the bell opening the way for the Dragon Princess to escape the pond?

Takashi Miike is the most innovative and daring filmmaker currently making films. He has worked in every film genre as well as directing several television projects. He made his first foray into directing a stage play with his adaptation of Demon Pond. No matter what genre or medium that Takashi Miike works in the end result is always something that is unlike anything you have ever seen before and every project he works on bears his unique undeniable style. Demon Pond is based on Kyoka Izumi’s play “Yashanje ike” which has been made into a movie once before in 1979 by director Masahiro Shinoda (Pale Flower, Double Suicide).

The first thing about Demon Pond that stands out is how minimalistic that who production is. The production is subdued and the more kinetic violent cinema that populates most of Takashi Miike’s films is nonexistent in Demon Pond. I found this more subtle laid back production to be refreshing and at time inventive. The action takes place on one stage and there are very few set/backdrop changes. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker the sparseness of this production could have been disastrous. The plays near two hour time length remains engrossing and entertaining throughout.

The strongest asset for this production is the acting which is mesmerizing from top to bottom. The cast features frequent Takashi Miike collaborator Kenichi Endo and veteran Japanese actor Tetsuro Tamba. Demon Pond is one of Takashi Miike’s most experimental productions making it a difficult film to recommend to those unfamiliar with the bulk of his cinema. Ultimately Demon Pond is like a rare flower which begs to be seen by a larger audience.

The DVD:

Demon Pond is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. There are no problems with edge enhancement, compression or artifacts. Overall the transfer looks exceptional with strong colors, black levels and details look sharp throughout.

The only audio option included with this release is a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included.

The main extra for this release is a seven minute interview with director Takashi Miike who discusses the origins of this project and why he choose to direct a stage version of Demon Pond. This interview is in Japanese and English subtitles have been included. The only other extra is promo gallery of titles that are available on DVD from Cinema Epoch.

Overall Cinema Epoch release is a solid audio/video presentation that is highlighted by an insightful interview with Takashi Miike.

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