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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Black Rat'

Dennis King Published: June 20, 2011

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Black Rat”

In the creepy realm of underground, hipster horror movies, a director can never be too young, too exotic, too twisted or too well connected to become a cult star. Witness the hot Japanese horror filmmaker Kenta Fukasaku and his latest offbeat chiller “Black Rat,” due out on an English-subtitled DVD Tuesday.

Fukasaku, son of the late, legendary director Kinji Fukasaku (who helmed the Japanese sections of “Tora! Tora! Tora!’), has made his own path with such macabre and nutty horror works as “Yo-Yo Girl Cop,” “X-Cross” and “Killer.”

And in that vein, “Black Rat” continues the weirdo mayhem. It tells a “Carrie”-like teen revenge saga in which six high schoolers receive a mysterious message from classmate Asuka telling them to gather in a classroom in the middle of the night. The hitch is: Asuka recently committed suicide.

As the puzzled but intrigued students assemble at the school and begin to talk, a figure wielding a bat and wearing a blood-stained rat mask appears, announces “Asuka’s revenge,” and begins pummeling, slicing and dispatching the classmates in various horrific ways.

As the they scatter down the darkened hallways in terror, the question becomes – can the offending teens escape their gruesome fate, survive until morning and learn the true identity of this rat-masked avenger?

Oddly enough, the younger Fukasaku apprenticed at the side of his traditional father. He penned the screenplay for the elder Fukasaku’s well-reviewed 2000 sci-fi film “Battle Royale,” a dystopian tale of teenagers run amok in a crumbling Japan of the future. And when his father died midway through the 2003 filming of the sequel “Battle Royale II,” Kenta Fukasaku stepped behind the camera to complete the picture and earn his first directing credit.

“Black Rat” is unrated and runs 76 minutes. It’s being released by Tokyo Shock.

- Dennis King