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Elite Entertainment presents
Marronnier (2003)

"Good morning, Marronnier!"
- Marino (Mayu)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: June 13, 2005

Stars: Yuriko Anjho, Miyako Cojima
Other Stars: Haruna Hoshino
Director: Hideyuki Kobayashi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (graphic violence)
Run Time: 01h:21m:56s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
UPC: 790594627720
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
F FD-D+ C-

DVD Review

Japanese horror continues to grow exponentially in popularity with no signs of slowing down. Unfortunately, that means that with all of the great imports making their way to DVD, there are just as many, if not more, complete duds. One such dud is Marronnier, which actually has a relatively strong pedigree behind it, given that it was produced by Junji Ito, the man behind the other Asian horror gems Tomie and Uzumaki.

Apparently, Ito forgot what was so right about his previous productions, as this new, extremely low-budget joke of a film is nearly impossible to watch. One minute we're seeing a teenage girl's arm being severed by a strong wire, and the next we've got happy Japanese pop music playing as two lovebirds joke with each other. This picture is so schizophrenic that I kept waiting for the next new, unrelated storyline to come sailing in from left field.

The "story" centers on sculptor Tadao Iwata (Ochyazukenori), who has found out how to convert human flesh into wax. Is there a luckier killer doll sculptor around?! He just happens to have an assistant who has no problem killing people in order to get parts for his boss. This assistant, Soichiro (Hiroto Nakayama), has his sights set on Marino (Mayu), who loves Iwata's puppets. Iwata isn't as easy to kill as Soichiro's other victims, so it takes some careful planning to get her and her boyfriend, Kurataro (the film's director, Hideyuki Kobayashi) into their "doll-making factory."

While this might sound like an established, easy-to-follow plot, it's not, by any means. So much jumbled, pointless information and dialogue is involved that I lost interest about 10 minutes in. That's bad enough if we're talking about a long, talky, drama, or something similar, but when the project in question is a barely 80-minute horror film, it's inexcusable.

The movie basically has no endearing qualities whatsoever. There's no humor, character empathy, or intriguing mystery to capture viewers' interest, let alone maintain it. The best of Asian horror (The Ring, Dark Water) didn't shy away from slowing things down to establish a mood and sense of dread. It's too bad the filmmakers behind Marronnier didn't take a page out of that same book.

Rating for Style: F
Rating for Substance: F


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is one of the worst a DV project has even looked on DVD. Tons of artifacting, incredibly amounts of noise, and inconsistent colors are only part of the problem. Images are incredibly soft, with particular details being nearly impossible to make out on some things, but, then again, this was apparently shot using a cheap DV camera, so I guess the shoddy video shouldn't be too surprising.

Image Transfer Grade: D-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japaneseyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Both the Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 tracks are in their original Japanese languages and do nothing to thrill the viewer. The 5.1 is definitely a boisterous track, sounding much louder than the 2.0, but, aside from the necessary volume adjustments when switching between the two, they aren't very different. Both lack bass presence and are thin as far as directionality goes, but the dialogue is nice and crisp, saving this from being the disaster that the video transfer is.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
7 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. The Legends of Marronnier: Short film that turned into this feature film.
  2. Doll Gallery Movie: Collection of stills showcasing the dolls from the film.
Extras Review: A small section of extras include The Legends of Marronnier, an eight-minute short film that inspired the feature, Marronnier; Doll Gallery Movie, four minutes of pictures of dolls; and a Junji Ito Interview, a talk with the producer of the film.

There's also a brief Behind the Scenes featurette, seven deleted scenes, and a pair of trailers for the feature.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Even if you're the biggest Asian horror fan on your block, stay far, far away from Marronnier. This is a nightmare, and the audio and video presentations on Elite Entertainment's DVD aren't much better.


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