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ADAPT THIS: “The Suicide Forest” by El Torres & Gabriel Hernandez

the suicide forest

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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.

This Week’s Book: The Suicide Forest by El Torres (w) and Gabriel Hernandez (a)

The Premise: The real-life forest of Aokigahara, which lies just outside Tokyo at the base of Mt. Fuji, is one of the most popular places in the world for people to commit suicide. Some say the spirits of people who killed themselves in the forest are cursed to haunt its confines — but what if those spirits get out? When the Japanese ex-girlfriend of an American living abroad ends her life in “Suicide Forest,” he finds himself dealing with a vengeful ghost who will stop at nothing to ruin his life.

The Pitch: Given the success of horror franchises like “The Ring” and “The Grudge,” which were based on Japanese legends and were later imported and remade here in the U.S., it’s actually a bit surprising that the legend of Aokigahara Forest hasn’t been tapped yet. The national landmark’s history is steeped in both morbid facts and eerie phenomena, which is something Torres masterfully mines for The Suicide Forest.

While many of the Japanese horror franchises that were brought to the U.S. in recent years had their settings and other elements changed for American audiences, a movie based on The Suicide Forest would obviously need to stay in Japan. Fortunately, the source material already offers a great entrance point that softens the culture shock. The primary narrative follows an American living abroad who has a difficult time adjusting to Japanese society, and we see many of the terrifying events that occur throughout The Suicide Forest through his perspective.

Like the vengeful “onryo” ghosts that haunted “The Grudge” and “The Ring” (and many of the other Japanese horror films imported to the U.S. in recent years), the antagonist of The Suicide Forest is another creepy blend of pale skin, jet-black hair, and blood-spattered features, deliberate in its deadly mission and always popping up where you least expect her. It’s a formula that works, certainly, but it’s given a new spin in the comic that would make a film stand out from its predecessors.

In The Suicide Forest, there’s a significant amount of time spent n the narrative of the person before she became a vengeful spirit. It’s a refreshing twist on the well-traveled “angry ghost” stories that allows you to actually feel some amount of sympathy for the cursed creature terrorizing Alan and his friends — and could offer a nice chance for an actress to show some range as both lonely soul and supernatural killer.

Along with Alan and his girlfriend-turned-ghost Masami, there’s another great role to be found in “The Suicide Forest” movie for an actress playing Ryoko, the park ranger who’s made it her job to police Aokigahara and bring some peace to the unsettled souls she finds there. While the notion of a spirit-hunting ranger patrolling the forest might seem far-fetched at first, a search for suicide victims’ bodies that occurs each year in the real Aokigahara forest often involves local monks who live near the forest and pray for the souls they believe are trapped there. So there’s not only some precedent for the character, but there’s also some great real-world research material for the right actor.

The Closing Argument: The flood of Japanese horror movies remade for American audiences has died down in recent years, so the timing could be right to remind everyone why these stories were so popular in the first place. A film based on The Suicide Forest would tread enough new ground to be distinctly different from franchises like “The Ring” or “The Grudge,” while also including some of the best elements from those films — specifically, the moody atmosphere and visual style. It would also take the familiar onryo legends to a new setting, breaking from the traditional urban environment and translating all that fear of ghostly creatures in bathroom mirrors and television sets to the wide-open woods.

Would “the Suicide Forest” make a good movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.