Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 1st, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, February 17th, 2007
Director: Sion Sono
Writers: Sion Sono, Masaki Adachi, Makoto Sanada
Cast: Chiaki Kuriyama, Ren Osugi, Megumi Sato, Tsugumi, Eri Machimoto, Miku Sato, Mirai Yamamoto, Yuna Natsuo, Ken Mitsuishi, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Tetsushi Tanaka, Yoshikazu Ebisu
DVD released: August 12th, 2008
Approximate running time: 108 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 & Stereo Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 & Stereo English
DVD Release: Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.99
Synopsis: Gunji Yamazaki a mortuary assistant with a hair fetish steals the corpse of a woman. Who despite being deceased can still grow hair even after it is cut. Gunji uses the woman’s hair to make the most beautiful hair extensions. Yuko is training to become a hair stylist. Her path crosses when Gunji when he approaches the hair salon she works at with his hair extensions. Gunji quickly becomes infatuated with Yuko and her hair. The hair extensions that Gunji from the dead woman’s body start to come alive and attack those who wear them.
Exte: Hair Extensions has all the clichés that one would expect going into a J Horror film. Exte: Hair Extensions was written and directed by Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Noriko’s Dinner Table, Strange Circus) who is known for his unique cinematic twist familiar everyday situations and objects. It is kind of appropriate that the hair is the instrument used for murder in this film since so many J Horror films feature living dead girls with hair that covers their face who are looking to exact their revenge. This film while featuring elements of J Horror is not as much a horror film as it is a quirky drama about the unresolved issues of its lead characters. The scenes were the hair comes alive are very creepy. Killer hair may seem like a bizarre choice as an instrument for murder, but then we are talking about a film made by Sion Sono a filmmaker known for his eccentricities. The director does make a strong case for using hair as the Grim Reaper saying in an interview about how popular hair extensions are and no one ever questions were the hair came from.
This film is filled with well defined characters like Yuko Mizushima the aspiring hairdresser, Mami Yuko’s niece and Gunji Yamazaki the mortician’s assistant obsessed with hair. Despite all the time devoted to these two characters very little if anything about the dead girl with the killer hair is very really revealed. Outside of the flashbacks which show that she was kidnapped and murdered for her organs. The plot for Exte: Hair Extensions revolves an aspiring hairdresser named Yuko Mizushima and the guilt she feels for having an abortion when she was fifteen. Her older step sister Kiyomi is an abusive mother whose daughter Mami eventually goes to stay with Yuko who wants to make up for the child that she abandon.
Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Azumi 2, The Great Yokai War) is cast in the lead role of Yuko Mizushima. In the majority of the films that Chiaki Kuriyama she almost always seems to get cast in sinister roles. It is refreshing seeing her in a role that plays against her normal type cast. The film most outrageous performances comes from Ren Osugi who just lets loose as the hair obsessed Gunji Yamazaki. The only drawback his characters fetish with hair is not fully explained outside a moment were it is briefly eluded too how he has cut the hair of dead girls in the morgue before to make hair extensions. Without a doubt the most memorable and scene sealing performance in the film is Miku Sato in the role of Mami. She conveys emotion and understanding of acting well beyond her years. The rest of the cast are all enjoyable in their respective roles. Ultimately Exte: Hair Extensions is a refreshing satirical take on J Horror films that twists the genre’s clichés on their head.
Exte: Hair Extensions is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors look nicely saturated. Black levels look strong and details look sharp throughout. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and edge enhancement is minimal.
This release comes with four audio options, two audio mixes in Japanese a Dolby Digital 5.1 and A Dolby Digital stereo and two audio mixes in English a Dolby Digital 5.1 and A Dolby Digital stereo. All four mixes sound clean, clear and evenly balanced. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes sound fuller than the stereo mixes. Removable English subtitles that are error free, easy to follow and understand have been included.
Extras for this release are spread over two discs. Extras on disc one includes a trailer for Exte: Hair Extensions (in Japanese with English subtitles) and trailers for other titles currently available on DVD from Tokyo Shock. Extras on disc two include a music video (2 minutes), T.V. Spots, two deleted scenes and a eight minute Q&A with director Sion Sono from the 2007 Fantasia films festival. Rounding out the extras is a forty eight minute behind the scenes documentary (in Japanese with English subtitles) that features comments from the cast and director Sion Sono. The best part of this documentary is listening to Chiaki Kuriyama discuss in great detail her character Yuko Mizushima. Overall Tokyo Shock have done a nice job with this release that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a handful of interesting extras.