Computers have taken a large leap forward since the creation of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) during World War II. It was a warehouse sized computer that needed many people to run it. We have since gone through home computers that ran on Disk Operating System (DOS) in the 1980s and the public release of the internet in the 1990s. Computers went from text to graphics and are now integrating large video formats that anyone can watch.
In 2005, a new website was created that would cause video streaming to explode in popularity. This site was YouTube, a place where people could upload, share, and watch videos of almost anything. It became an easy tool to use for procrastination. All of the viral videos could likely be found in some dark corner of YouTube. It has become the most popular place to watch videos online.
Horror snapped up the chance to use streaming to their advantage. Feardotcom was one of many horror movies to bring scares out of streaming. Another was the thriller Untraceable. Neither of the movies were all that tapped into YouTube however. They were about individuals using their own streaming sites to show death. Even more recent movies that involved streaming, such as Unfriended or Open Windows, failed to capture the YouTube craze. But the movie I watched this week took YouTube into consideration.
Death Tube was released in 2010. It was a Japanese production that followed a group of people trapped in an unknown warehouse. They were tasked with participating in a series of games where the loser(s) would die. The games and deaths were broadcast on a website called DeathTube. The website was like YouTube, except the clips were murder and the site was only online for two weeks at a time.
The movie was easy to break into various parts, since there were a series of games and tasks for the characters to go through. I don’t remember how many tasks there were. We shall find out at the end of the post. Also note, there may be spoilers. I’ll try to avoid them but I cannot guarantee it. Let’s get started.
This was where the main story kicked in. Eight characters woke up in eight isolated rooms and had to complete a Rubik’s cube in a given amount of time. They were then supposed to remember the rule on their cube. The rule had to be followed at all costs.
The importance of the Rubik’s Cube task was to ensure that everyone would follow the rules of each game. It was important to the unknown people in charge that their victims be able to behave in accordance to the rules. Without that, there would be mayhem. It wouldn’t make for good viewing. There needed to be panic. There needed to be emotion. They couldn’t just refuse to do things, or else nothing would happen. If they were required to complete a task, they should complete it or die trying. That is what this game signified.
This movie had similarities to the American horror franchise Saw. The main character woke up in a room and was told to complete a task by a strange figure on a television. In the Saw franchise, it was sometimes on a television, sometimes a tape recorder. The strange figure in Death Tube was a cartoon bear, while it was a weird clown looking guy in Saw. Lessons were also a big thing in both franchises. The characters were placed into the games because of mistakes in their lives and were meant to learn from them in a deadly way.
For the second challenge in Death Tube, the characters were given seven tasks. If they completed four of them within an hour, they would move on. The tasks included doing 100 curls of a weight, spinning around 10 times and walking across the room, stopping a timer at ten seconds, writing out the prelude to the constitution, hula hooping for a full minute, shoving a nail in their hand, and one other one that I can’t remember.
The idea for this challenge was for the hostages to work as a team. They needed to use their strengths to clear themselves into the next round. It involved everyone working together instead of playing only for themselves. They were trying to survive together. This is much the same as any movie where a ragtag group of people must use their skills to accomplish a task. The first that comes to mind is Fast Five, where everyone on the team had a reason for being there. Some were good drivers. Others were good with tools. There was someone good with technology, and another guy who had charm. Everyone had a purpose and needed to use that purpose to succeed.
The obstacle course was straight forward. The hostages raced through a few small tasks. They ate a donut, ran across a slippery floor, carried some stacked blocks around, and drank a glass of water. The slowest died. This was the first challenge in which the characters were in the same room. It was also the introduction of the villain as a person in a mascot costume depicting the bear from the television screens in the individual rooms.
The idea behind this challenge was to bring equality to the group. The people were not supposed to make their lives more important than the others. One of the rules was that the game would not begin until someone stepped across the red line. There were no rules saying that they had to step across the red line. If they didn’t, there just wouldn’t have been a challenge. It was as simple as that. But one of the hostages stepped across the line, causing the challenge to commence. Equality would have had them all safe. They broke the equality, trying to place themselves in first, second, third, and so on. They were no longer equals.
This was a game that I am unfamiliar with. The remaining people had to work out a series of place names and recite them while a balloon was inflated with poison. Whoever held the balloon when it popped would die. If they got through all of the names before the balloon popped, they would all be safe. It was a fatal version of hot potato. I don’t know where the names came from, though.
There was no real point to this game. It was building upon the team aspect that had already been covered. Each person had to know their locations and get the balloon to the next person so that they could live. The challenge didn’t have much more to it. It seemed like a quick and easy way to kill another person and dwindle the numbers down. It wasn’t much of a lesson.
There’s a little bit of a backstory to this one that gets into some slight spoilers for Death Tube. I’ll try to be vague. Basically, there is hope for the characters to be saved by some outside force. That hope was squandered when the people in charge of the games found out what was happening. They kidnapped a loved one, and asked one of the “contestants” a tough question about the person.
Honesty was what this game was about. It was meant to break down one character who had not yet realized the reality of the situation. There was no hope of someone saving the hostages. The people in charge were too good at their jobs to let that happen. They needed to let this character know that there was no savior. Nobody was going to find them and free them. They were doomed to participate in the challenges. This game was a turning point for the main character as he needed to find honesty in his feelings.
Like every other game in Death Tube, this was straight forward. The remaining characters voted on who they wanted to keep in the game. Any character that got zero votes would be killed. The people in charge gave each person a piece of paper and they were told to write down the name of one other person in the room.
This was another game about equality. As long as no two people voted for the same person, everyone would get one vote. It was as simple as that. Everyone would get one vote. Everyone would be equal. It also required teamwork and honesty, as people needed to work together and be honest with one another to succeed. By this point, all of the challenges needed to be a culmination of the lessons. It took all of the previously obtained knowledge to accomplish the task. It was a mental McGyver. Kind of like how McGyver would have his few random items and be able to use them to succeed in any scenario, the characters would need to use the few lessons they learned in order to succeed in the game.
The final game was a lottery that would decide life or death. It was the end of the entire Death Tube experience. A bunch of sticks were placed in a cup, and the right stick had to be chosen for survival. Each stick had a letter. Knowing what letter was right would prevent death and allow escape. It was a tricky challenge that would involve the characters having paid attention. The letter was important to what they had been doing throughout the movie.
Forget all of the other lessons that had been learned. The lesson for the lottery was completely different. The whole point was revealing that the characters hadn’t helped someone else in the same situation before. They had been brought into DeathTube because they had refused to give another DeathTube hostage the answer. They needed to suffer for causing someone’s death by experiencing the same game. That was the point of the lottery.
Death Tube was about teaching people how to work as a team and be equals. It was about helping other people without thinking solely about yourself. That was a noble lesson that was somewhat lost in the weird games and horror setting. Sure, characters mentioned what the lessons were. Yes, I picked up on them enough to write this post. But most people probably went into this movie for the death and dire situations. They went into it for the horror. Sometimes when you do that, you focus only on that and the other stuff skips right by. I know that has happened to me. You enjoy the movie and don’t care about the message it tries to send.
YouTube had a big influence on Death Tube and how enjoyable it was. It captured the live aspect more than anything, but was clearly playing off of YouTube’s specific live streaming. In a world where we are going increasingly into a streaming direction, this movie has the ability to become more important to the horror genre. It probably won’t, but that doesn’t mean that a remake couldn’t happen. If done the right way, this could be a great addition to the movie world. Here’s hoping someone finds this movie and does the idea justice. We need more horror movies that capitalize on the internet and how computers use it.
Here are a few notes:
- Death Tube was suggested by @NayfHunter.
- Another Japanese movie that I’ve watched for the Sunday “Bad” Movies is Funky Forest: The First Contact.
- Attack of the Super Monsters was an American movie made up of footage from a Japanese television show.
- Have you seen Death Tube? Did you like it? How about the other stuff I brought up in this post? You can talk about any of that in the comments.
- There are many movies out there that I don’t know about. Let me know. Suggest them for me to watch. You can suggest away in the comments or on Twitter.
- If you want to follow me on snapchat, and maybe get some clips of bad movies in my story, find me. My username is jurassicgriffin.
- Next Sunday’s movie is going to be Little Dead Rotting Hood. It’s the first movie from 2016 that I will be covering. It comes from The Asylum, who have made a bunch of movies that I’ve seen. Wolves, women, and horror. Get ready.