Film Review: Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (1995)

SYNOPSIS:

Misa Kuroi is an adorable high-school girl who arrives at her new school when it is falling under an evil supernatural force. Trying to figure out who’s behind the supernatural attack, Misa also has to deal with assumptions by her fellow classmates that believe she is the one behind it all. Misa and twelve other students are kept late after school hours one day to retake an exam. Then, after sunset, the entire school is deserted, and the students find themselves trapped inside and their teacher no where to be found. One by one, the thirteen students are picked up and disposed of in horrific and graphic fashion. It is up to Misa to try and gain the trust of her fellow students so that she can protect them and stop the evil before it’s too late.

REVIEW:

“Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness” is often mentioned in J-Horror books as being “somewhat” of a classic for the Japanese horror genre. I was determined to investigate hoping that a gem would flower from beneath its earlier roots. The movie while being conceptually stable, proved to be, on the most part, a bore and letdown. I’ll comment on this further after laying out the storyline.

We begin with an in-progress Satanic ritual being conducted at a local high school. Red-robed participants chant silly demonic nonsense while a un announced school girl runs for her life. She is instantly killed by a building girder that crushes her head against the cement. The incident has only helped the demonic coven with furthering their goal into summoning Lucifer.

And so it begins…Misa Kuroi, is the new girl in town. She arrives at school carrying a questionable baggage of dark history. Being quite lovely and charming, Misa gains a few instant friends. Kenichi Shindou takes instant admiration to Misa while Mizuki Kurahashi brings her on as a new friend.

The school has been having issues with strange occurrences as of late. This is soon to be discovered as a form of voodoo dabbling of Satanic origin. Misa Kuroi is quite capable of handling herself and soon has to summon a few powers of her own to ward off the evil intention of others.

A fellow student by the name of Takayuki Mizuno, is the film’s struggling magic dabbler who never seems to be able to do any “real magic” of his own. This is a point of frustration for Mizuno of whom students poke fun at for his “lack” of results. Mizuno, who fails to drum up any real threat, is later used as a pawn within the larger scheme of things.

Miss Kyoko Shirai is one of the focal teachers. She also happens to be an evil lesbian who seduces a young student on a pretty daily basis. The inclusion is actually quite out of place, that while giving the film a certain hot-ness in the form of woman-on-girl-action feels more exploitative than anything. The event happens a few times, which is my reason for mentioning. In any case Miss Kyoko Shirai asks a select few to stay after to complete a written test. They soon discover that they have all been cursed and held prisoner while the number 13 counts down each of their deaths. An ancient ritual requires the sacrifice of 13 individuals in the name of Lucifer to summon him from beyond. This number can be seen on the chalkboard as it counts down.

The deaths are pretty substandard…..meaning that they are nothing too extreme or anything we haven’t seen before. I was taken aback in the fact that Misa, who was “supposed” to be this bad-ass wizard chick, was so easily deprived of her powers thru most of the film making for a rather wimpy protagonist.

The highpoint in the film is limited to about a minute worth of visual effects. The finale brings in Lucifer who is presented more as a beautiful winged angel rather than the typical devil horned beast we might expect. This is well done and quite striking. There is also a visual FX gag involving the antagonist of the movie who’s soul is ripped directly out of her face. These 2 things were quite well done. Beyond that, there is not much going on here besides the usual over dynamic action skills of young teens who express “everything” with “way” too much emphasis.

Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness” lacks any originating information about Misa and her jaded history. I was a bit disappointed that the filmmakers chose to rely on assumption rather than any real revelation. This causes the film to feel incomplete from the get go much like walking into a room during mid conversation.

In fact checking, “Eko Eko Azarak” is derived from a Wiccan chant transformed into a live action film based upon manga origin. The manga version is noted as being taken from a Shinichi Kogo comic. The film spawned a follow-up film with the subtitle of “Birth of the Wizard” also featuring actress Kimika Yoshino as the lead. The 3rd release was subtitled “Misa the Dark Angel” with 3 more films following..

Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (1995)

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