HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
1 chance sur 2
Betterman
Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo
Yin Yang Master, The
Hail, Mafia!
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase
Mirai
Strange House, The
Morfalous, Les
Dreambuilders
Everything Went Fine
Lux AEterna
Rum Runners
Fairy and the Devil, The
Mad God
Outside the Law
I Remember Mama
Superman Unbound
Lawrence of Belgravia
House Across the Lake, The
Wonder Park
Hornsby e Rodriguez
Operation Mincemeat
5 Kung Fu Daredevil Heroes
Scoob!
Earwig
Offseason
Peau Douce, La
Double Indemnity
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Deep Murder
Superman vs. the Elite
Adam Project, The
Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Horse, La
Buffaloed
Train Robbers, The
Let Sleeping Cops Lie
Abominable
Funeral, The
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Blue Christmas Close Encounters of the Bleak Kind
Year: 1978
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Hiroshi Katsuno, Keiko Takeshita, Eiji Okada, Shin Kishida, Eisei Amamoto, Kaoru Yachigusa, Masaya Oki, Yusuke Okada, Etsushi Takahashi, Harumi Arai, Naoko Otani, Kunie Tanaka
Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: All over the world UFO sightings are on the rise. What is more all those experiencing alien encounters share the same strange after-effect: their blood turns from red to blue. Before long another side-effect emerges. The blue-blooded people exhibit milder dispositions. They are unable to get angry. Intrigued by this global phenomenon, prominent Japanese scientist Dr. Hyodo (Eiji Okada, star of Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)) visits the United Nations to deliver his research only to be abducted by shifty American agents. News reporter Minami (Tatsuya Nakadai, legendary star of Kagemusha (1980) and Ran (1985) among many classics) is torn away from promoting tacky western pop group 'The Humanoids' - whose hit single 'Blue Christmas' tops the charts, causing mass hysteria among Japanese teens - to investigate. What he uncovers is a disturbing international conspiracy that views the blue-bloods as a threat. Meanwhile, soldier Oki (Hiroshi Katsuno) begins a tentative romance with meek barber shop employee Saeko (Keiko Takeshita) only to discover she is a blue-blood. Reeling from this revelation Oki grows conflicted about his own role in a deadly operation set to go down on Christmas Eve...

By now most cult film fans are likely aware of the swarm of Star Wars rip-offs that engulfed the world like an alien invasion in the late Seventies. However there was also a mini-wave of sci-fi films inspired by the other big genre blockbuster of 1977: Steven Spielberg's seminal ode to UFOs Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Released by Toho Films, proud parents of Godzilla and other landmark effects-driven genre films, Blue Christmas (or, in its original Japanese title: Blood Type: Blue) was the brainchild of Kihachi Okamoto. Though best known as a master of samurai films (known in Japan as chanbara) and war epics, Okamoto dabbled repeatedly in science fiction. With varying results: e.g. Age of Assassins (1967) and his forays in anime Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (1978) and Coo of the Far Seas (1993).

Working from a screenplay by playwright Sô Kuramoto, a master at romantic dramas (hence, the second half focuses primarily on the doomed love affair between dead-eyed crewcut antihero Oki and simpering nonentity Saeko), Blue Christmas is a strange, ambitious but pretentious and heavy-handed allegorical drama with sci-fi overtones. Though inspired by Close Encounters (albeit perhaps less the film itself than the phenomenon it sired) the film more closely matches the gloomy conspiratorial tone of Mario Gariazzo's more overtly derivative Eyes Behind the Stars (1978). Both films even fade-out on variations of the same ending. Set next to Spielberg's utopian vision, the Japanese and Italian productions are like night and day. Where Close Encounters was about rousing America out of its Seventies malaise with the wonders of a wider universe, here alien contact brings out only the worst in humanity: paranoia, bigotry, hysteria and violence. Not for nothing does Okamoto include a key scene wherein Saeko watches a TV documentary about Nazis and concentration camps (it is later revealed a large section of blue-blooded people are exiled to a camp in Siberia). Close Encounters climaxes with alien communion having an implied cathartic effect on humanity. Blue Christmas climaxes with a Godfather-style murder montage as acts of international genocide restore the right-wing world order. Which might be why the film's champions rate it as a paranoid precursor to The X-Files.

Okamoto gives the film a more grounded, almost documentary like tone. Very different from most Japanese genre films from the Showa era and closer to the conspiracy thrillers Alan J. Pakula was making in the Seventies. Specifically The Parallax View (1974) and All the President's Men (1976). Given the Japanese are famously obsessed with blood types defining personality traits, Okamoto likely intended Blue Christmas to satirize a uniquely Japanese brand of prejudice, including allusions to xenophobia and the slow-eroding of liberalism from local politics occurring at the time. Unfortunately his ambitions exceed his grasp. Grossly mishandled, the story jumps from scene to scene in confoundingly abrupt, often unintentionally comic fashion. Devoid of compelling characters (Nakadai is interesting as the perpetually bug-eyed intense reporter but has no effect on the plot while lovers Oki and Saeko have all the charisma of wet cement) and reducing its UFOs to a single photograph of vaguely sperm-like lights in the sky, the film falls back on wild conspiracy theories and windy debates between stern professorial types. Okamoto veers off on wild tangents including a subplot about Yuko, an ill-fated Japanese pop star with blue blood, the Beatlemania like hysteria that surrounds the Humanoids (who make an absurd impression preaching about peace, love and dope in their hokey hippie garb and blonde afros, and don't even impact the plot before being bumped off in an off-screen plane crash!)and Minami's visits to France and New York where he quizzes confused locals about UFOs. Only for them to either stare dumbfounded, laugh or in the case of a group of young women mimic his walk (?!)). For a film about prejudice and xenophobia it tends to reinforce certain old ideas about foreigners being rude or indifferent to the Japanese. While Kuramoto's script makes some pertinent points about Japan's powerlessness in the face of a rising tide of fascism, slapdash story construction renders the end result a turgid bore.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1852 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Kihachi Okamoto  (1923 - 2005)

Veteran Japanese director who used his experiences during the Second World War to shape the outlook and tone of numerous anti-war films, such as 1959's Dokuritsugu Gurentai, and 1968's Nikudan (aka The Human Bullet). Okamoto also directed gangster pictures such as The Age of Assassins (1967) and samurai epics like Sword of Doom (1966) and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970), frequently casting the great Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune. Okamoto slowed his work-rate afterwards, but still continued to direct for TV and cinema until his death.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Enoch Sneed
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: