Scariest Movie of My Life: Uzumaki

Uzumaki, Junji Ito, Big Comic Spirits, 1998

I love me some horror movies.

At parties or family gatherings, start talking to me about the latest rom-com and you will see my eyes glaze over. But mention the latest slasher flick, and I will immediately jump to attention. I will also be the first to admit that I don’t have the highest standards in scary movies, which resulted in the painful viewing of such gems like Death Bed: The Bed That Eats and Curse of the Queerwolf. Hell, I watched Rubber, which is a scary movie about a freaking tire (actually, parts of it are good once you get past the concept).

While I love watching horror movies, that doesn’t mean they don’t scare me. Some things that will get me every time are: monsters that smile (Insidious, Stake Land), sudden jumps in front of the camera (Paranormal Activity, Ringu), and shaky cam movies (Blair Witch Project, As Above, So Below). Shaky cam gets a lot of hate, and is way overused, but for me it’s like my brain has trouble understanding that it’s not real. Most movies, sure. But something that has the film quality of family vacations? Brain is all “that totally happened and now it’s gonna happen to you”. Cue nightmares and poor sleep.

UzumakiposterA great example of a movie that scares the hell out of me is Uzumaki. It has body horror, gross special effects, and an atmosphere of abject dread. The plot boils down to an entire town’s creeping obsession with spirals. It starts with one man filming a snail, and escalates from there. Everything is moist and boneless and makes these wet sucking sounds. Kirie, the protagonist, somewhat helplessly watches as her friends and family mutilate themselves as they strive to become one with the spiral that’s warped their brains. Everyone just keeps smiling even as they begin to ooze and twist. There’s this wacky, almost cheerful soundtrack at times, and some of the shots highlighting spirals are really beautiful. It’s based on a manga that I’ve never read, but keep meaning to pick up.

This isn’t the grossest or most violent movie I’ve ever seen, but the sheer wrongness of the transformations and the slight edge of hysterical comedy has stuck in my head for years.

Ugh. Snails. (shudders)

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Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson is a graphic artist living in Chicago. In addition to illustrating and laying out tabletop RPGs and zines, she burns through comics and books as fast as her eyes can move. Sarah swears a lot on twitter as @scorcha79.

3 thoughts on “Scariest Movie of My Life: Uzumaki

  1. Wow, this sounds both fascinating and terrifying…I can’t decide if I want to watch it or not.

  2. Dear whomever chose that header image:



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