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Tales from the Dead 
Written by: on April 24th, 2010

Theatrical Release Date:
USA, 2008
Director: Jason Cuadrado
Writer: Jason Cuadrado
Cast: Hiro Abe, Toshiya Agata, Mari Endo, Evan Himes, Kei Hirayama, Hidetoshi Imura, Eiji Inoue, Kie Ito, Leni Ito, Kiyoko Kamei, Sachiyo Kanbayashi, Makiko Konishi, Masami Kosaka, Yumi Mizui, Mark Ofuji, Natalie N. Okamoto, Satomi Okuno, Hiro Saito, Arthur Shinomia, Daisuke Suzuki, Nikki Takei, Yutaka Takeuchi, Yoi Tanabe, Masami Teramoto, Daisuke Tomita, Eriko Yamaguchi, Miley Yamamoto, Masayuki Yonezawa, Kazumi Zatkin

DVD released: March 9th, 2010
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
Subtitles: English (Burnt-in)
DVD Release: Seminal Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98

Synopsis: Stranded after a flat tire, a woman who recently murdered her husband accepts a ride from a young woman who claims that she speaks to the dead.

The bulk of the plot is told via stories which the young woman who talks to the dead tells the other woman four stories which involve her unique gift. The first story involves a family who’s disabled son who is being haunted by the former tenants of their home, who he has a connection with. The second story revolves around a cop who is investigating the death of a accountant who worked for the mafia. The third story centers around a man who’s recent fallers have pushed him closer to ending it all. Before he is able to kill himself. He is visited by a mysterious man who offers him a deal that appears to be too good to be true. The fourth story brings everything full circle as it involves the stranded woman who is first introduced at the beginning of the film. She is a member of a Black Widow Society in which all the members help each other plan their spouses murders.

Just when it appeared that every angle of making a independent Horror film had been exploited. Along comes a film like Tales from the Dead, a American production that was inspired by the J-Horror film. Even though there have been other films that have been inspired by J-Horror. The thing that makes Tales from the Dead stand out is that all the dialog in the film is in Japanese. And even though the stories at hand at times have a very American feel to them. The use of Japanese as the film’s native language puts a unique twist on the stories at hand.

From a production standpoint every aspect of this film far exceeded my expectations. The meticulously laid out plot is filled with an abundance of atmosphere which lends itself to the eerie nature of the stories at hand. Tamika the young woman who speaks to the dead. Her character is in many ways like an avenging angel who helps the dead exact their revenge against those who did them wrong. Each of the four stories which make of the plot all stand up well on their own. Ultimately Tales from the Dead is a superbly crafted horror film.

The DVD:

Tales from the Dead is presented in a letterboxed widescreen. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. The image is clean, colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels fare well and details generally look crisp throughout.

This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Japanese and burnt in English subtitles have been included. The subtitles are easy to follow and free of errors. The audio is clean and clear throughout.

There is no extra content. Overall while the lack of a anamorphic transfer is disappointing the overall audio / video presentation is still very good.

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