Battle Heater: Kotatsu (1990)

A Japanese addition to the slender sub-genre of possessed appliance cinema (De Lift, The Refrigerator, The Mangler), this film from director-writer George Ishii features a Kotatsu – a type of electric fire in the form of an occasional table – inhabited by an evil spirit which eats the odd person but mostly manifests its evil by flexing its power around an apartment building and overloading the circuits. The hapless youth (Pappara Kawai) who takes the heater home from the dump and breaks its seal, loosing the evil, is the butt of abuse from all manner of people, especially the obnoxious rock group (Bakufu-Slump) who live next door and punch through his walls. Also mixed up in the mess are an adulterous couple who are laboriously disposing of a murdered husband (whose legless torso sits in a washing-up bowl), an apparently suicidal old couple and a horde of weeping schoolgirls who turn up at the group's big concert by mistake. It relies too much on knockabout violence and shouting, but has a genuinely weird streak – the killers shove the dead husband into the monster's mouth while pretending they're trying to rescue him – and the occasional quieter moment.

First published in this form here.


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