In 1998 Tomie started off a formidable series of horror films. There are now seven DVDs that feature this gruesome femme fatale. I think this is mainly due to the inventiveness of the artist/writer Junji Ito, who drew so many Tomie manga that film-makers have had a mineful of ideas to draw on. Other Junji Ito stories have inspired the successful Japanese horror films Kakashi (2001) and Uzumaki (2000).
I think Ito writes and draws the scariest horror comics ever! The original Tomie manga were thankfully translated into English in three volumes in 2001 but are now out of print. The three volumes of the epic Uzumaki translation are still available - it's a marvellously evoked descent into madness, where an isolated seaside town is overtaken by a fatal obsession with spirals.
All Ito's stories are graphically horrifying, but not graphic sexually. In simple black and white, Ito invokes 'body horror' in a new and terrible way that even the movies still find hard to outgross.
The first film that featured the character of Tomie was one of the earliest Japanese horror films I bought after seeing Ring. I wanted to find out what else Japan had to offer.
First time around, I liked Tomie because of the queasy atmosphere and the obscure storyline - the idea of what was going on slowly dawned on me, and it was bizarre and horrible. The iconic cover art of the eye looking out of the carrier bag was a brilliant hook — a throwback to the premise of Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case trilogy — something small, horrible and portable.
But Tomie isn’t just a living head, she’s growing…
Kept in a box in a dingy flat and fed by her demented boyfriend, Tomie slowly regains her full stature. Meanwhile in the apartment upstairs, former classmate Tsukiko has no idea that the creature that blanked out her memory three years earlier is her new neighbour. As the local police try and solve a local series of murder/suicides, Tsukiko visits a psychiatrist to try and unlock what happened to her back at school...