Thursday, March 31, 2005

Spreading It Like Sickness

Because I needlessly over-research things before I write, here's some more information I've gathered on "The Ring" and its various incarnations. The review, by the way, should run in tomorrow's Nexus.
  • When they were first doing promotion for it, they just left blank video tapes around Los Angeles with the movie — Samara's movie — in bars and restaurants and bus stations and in video stores. No explanation. No mention of the studio or the actual film. Nothing. And I like that.
  • Later, they made a dummy site for the fictional lighthouse that Rachel researches and then visits. You can still see it here. Notice how obviously Anna Morgan has been photoshopped into the picture.
  • Verbinski decided to lace the movie with a visual ring motif. Furniture, blankets, clothes and other stuff feature circular patterns in order to emphasize the big ring in the movie — the image of the top of the well as Samara would have seen it. This doesn't exist in the Japanese movie. The ring reffered to in the title, "Ringu," is the ring of the phone for your "seven days" call after you watch the tape.
  • The reason people's faces look all blurry in photographs after they've seen the movie is because Samara is watching them. And since she's underwater, she's seeing them all distorted and watery.
  • After people see the tape, they absent-mindedly scribble over the faces of people in books or magazines. They're not just marking over the faces, though; they're drawing Samara's hair.
  • People discuss the movie like an urban legend, but the tape is actually a literalized urban legend. Literally, it's this weird thing you see and you're forced to pass onto someone else, even they won't initially believe it. And I really like that.
  • There's an interesting article here on the factual basis behind the Japanese "Ringu." It's lost on anyone who has only seen the American version, since the Japanese film sets up the Samara character, Sadako, differently. In "Ringu," Samara's mom is a psychic who throws herself into a volcano when a reporter accuses her of being a fraud. (The reporter promptly dies — Sadako's first kill.) Apparently, a remarkably similar incident actually happened to a woman named Mifune Chizuko in 1886.
  • And maybe the weirdest part of all this "Ring" madness is that Hideo Nakata has practically based his entire career off the seires. The story first appeared as a novel in Japan. A director filmed a TV movie version of it and released it in 1995. (The film is supposedly awful and features Japanese model as a nudity-prone Sadako.) Since then, it's been remade or sequeled ten times.


  1. I have watched the American version of the Ring two and it just disappoints. Contrary to your admiration of the first remake, I thought that version was, again, disappointing too, though to a much lesser extent than the sequel. Perhaps, I was so spooked out by the original Ringu that the American version could not measure up to it. I meant the the whole theatre was filled with screams during the last 20 minutes, epecially since the female reporter slowly grabbed hold of the rope and was lowered into that well to find Sadako corpse. And I thought the climatic television sequence was much scarier than the American version. Sadako did not crawl out hurriedly like Samara, she just crept slowly, with her rotten fingers and all. You should have seen the original. It was really spooky.

  2. I did see it. It was interesting, but I didn't think it was scary nearly as visually striking as the remake. Then again, it's not written for an American audience.