Japanese Monsters and Horror in HENGE
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from a Japanese movie not yet released in the United States.
The traditions of the J-Horror and daikaiju genres come together in HENGE (へんげ, Metamorphosis, 2011), the story of a doting wife caring for her husband who has been infected with a mysterious disease.
A young couple living in a quiet residential area of Tokyo are dealing with bizarre mystery. The husband, Yoshiaki Kadota (Kazunari Aizawa), has been having bizarre seizures that are steadily increasing in intensity. He writhes on the floor and screams like a beast, terrifying his wife, Keiko (Aki Morita). Doctors can find no cause for Yoshiaki’s malady, which he describes as “zillions of bugs trying to take over my consciousness”.
Keiko devotedly takes care of Yoshiaki but the mysterious disease gets worse and worse. One night, his body starts to change. Yoshiaki and Keiko call in an old friend and colleague, Minoru Sakashita (Teruhiko Nobukuni), in the hopes that he can treat Yoshiaki’s ailment. But during an evaluation at the Kadota home, Yoshiaki begins speaking in a strange dialect. Sakashita discovers it is an ancient language and that Yoshiaki has said that he represented all life on Earth… except human beings.
Sakashita has Yoshiaki forcibly hospitalized at a clinic. But Yoshiaki escapes, and bizarre murders — in which the victims appear to have been devoured by a large animal — start to occur in Tokyo. Before long, an unimaginable, devastating terror makes its way back to Keiko’s front door. And now this timid housewife must decide whether to try and stop it… or give it her full and loving support.
What if you find out that you are turning into something else? What if your loved one changes into an unknown thing? The story of HENGE changes from psycho-suspense to paranormal horror to bloody murder and then builds to an unimaginable climax. Will the love between Keiko and Yoshiaki destroy the world?
HENGE was written and directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Hajime Ohata. A native of Osaka and former student of The Film School of Tokyo, Ohata made his directorial debut with the short movie A BIG GUN (大拳銃, Dai Kenju, 2009), which won the Grand Prix at the 2009 Yubari Fantastic Film Festival. In 2010, he directed “Niwa-no-ki”, a chapter of the TV horror anthology SINMIMIBUKURO (怪談新耳袋 百物語, Kaidan Shin Mimibukuro Hyaku Monogatari). In 2012, he directed HAKAIJU (ハカイジュウ), a promotional short film for Shingo Honda’s horror manga series.
The special effects for HENGE were supervised by Kiyotaka Taguchi. Taguchi served as an assistant special effects director on GODZILLA, MOTHRA & KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (ゴジラ・モスラ・キングギドラ 大怪獣総攻撃, aka GMK, Gojira Mosura Kingugidora Daikaiju Soukougeki, 2001), and worked on the art staff for the Millennium Godzilla series through GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (ゴジラ ファイナルウォーズ, Gojira: Fainaru Uozu, 2004) before going on to release his independent film independent kaiju film G (2008). He also directed NHK’s well-regarded TV movie GEHARHA: THE DARK AND LONG HAIR MONSTER (長髪大怪獣ゲハラ, Chouhatsu Daikaiju Gehara, 2009). Following HENGE, Taguchi reteamed with Hajime Ohata on the short film, HAKAIJU. Please see SciFi JAPAN TV #05: Independent Kaiju Movie Maker for an interview with Taguchi and a look at footage from HAKAIJU.
The main cast of HENGE consists of a trio actors: Kazunari Aizawa, Aki Morita and Teruhiko Nobukuni. Aizawa previously appeared in Takeshi Kitano’s DOLLS (ドールズ, 2002), TAKE THE ‘A’ TRAIN, SOMEDAY (いつかＡ列車（トレイン）に乗って, Itsuka ‘A’ torein ni notte, 2003), KANASHIMI NO HITMAN (哀しみのヒットマン, Kanashimi no Hittoman, 2010) and the TV drama THE SUN ALSO RISES (陽はまた昇る, Hi wa Mata Noboru, 2011). Aki Morita’s credits include HAVE A NICE DAY (ハヴァ、ナイスデー, Hava Naisudee, 2006), PANTSU NO ANA THE MOVIE (パンツの穴 THE MOVIE 童貞喪失ラプソディ, 2011) and SHINOBIDO (忍道-SHINOBIDO-, 2012). Teruhiko Nobukuni GOODBYE (へばの, Hebano, 2009) and HIDE AND GO KILL 2 (ひとりかくれんぼ 劇場版, Hitori Kakurenbo: Gekijoo-ban, 2009).
HENGE was an Official Selection of the 2011 Kanazawa Film Festival. Paired with Ohata’s A BIG GUN, the film began theatrical screenings in Japan on March 10, 2012, playing at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival and Chiba Film Festival. It also made the North American Festival circuit with screenings at the New York Asian Film Festival and JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema, Fantasia Film Festival, Fantastic Fest and San Diego Asian Film Festival.
King Record Company Ltd. is now offering the film for distribution outside Europe as HENGE “COMPLETE VERSION”. The movie has been licensed to distributors in German-speaking Europe, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Australia/New Zealand. Rights for North America and the United Kingdom are still available.
Japanese Release Date: March 10, 2012
Running Time: 54 minutes
Format: HD Cam
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Yoshiaki Kadota: Kazunari Aizawa
Keiko Kadota: Aki Morita
Minoru Sakashita: Teruhiko Nobukuni
Director: Hajime Ohata
Writer: Hajime Ohata
Producers: Shinsuke Fujioka, Ai Nagura
Cinematographer: Hidetoshi Shinomiya
Editor: Hajime Ohata
Art Directors: Sayaka Fukui, Jun Ito, Hayato Noma
Costume Designer: Maya Kato
Special Makeup Effects Artist: Yu Udagawa
Assistant Director: Yoichi Kawaguchi
Sound: Asuka Nemoto, Ippei Shingaki, Shinya Takada
Gaffer: Naoto Tamagawa
Music: Hiroyuki Nagashima
Special Effects: Kiyotaka Taguchi
Planning and Production: Omni Production
Distribution and International Sales: King Record Company Ltd.
© 2012 OMNI PRODUCTION
About King Record Company Limited
King Record Company Limited was founded in 1931 as the music division of Kodansha Limited, the largest publishing company in Japan. With a head office in Tokyo and 9 sales branch offices located nationwide, King Record produces and distributes music repertoires from rock, pops, classical music, jazz/fusion, world folklore music, traditional music to animation and game music, releasing over 1,200 new titles every year.
King Record also works on feature films, acquiring productions from around the globe and duly noted for the distribution of Shaw Bros collection and music documentaries. In the recent years, they have developed a strong network in mobile and PC digital music distribution, supplying masters to music downloading sites adapting to the new musical era.
Our in-house label StarChild is known as the leading animation label for many years and has produced DVD and music soundtracks of NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, LOVE HINA, FRUITS BASKET, FAFNER IN THE AZURE and many others.