The final two-thirds of Eko Eko Azarak becomes survival horror involving spell-casting and possession with lots of arterial spray and some gruesome killings. The film's location is primarily the school but absent, however, are the pop songs and cell phones. Eko Eko Azarak has a good overall sense of dread and mystery, which is aided by the low budget. Sato is able to use a singular location, as did Toshiharu Ikeda with Evil Dead Trap (1988), and focus on it tightly, so it appears to the viewer as claustrophobic. It works. The absence, also, of any positive happy images or music adds to the dread and foreboding of the mystery and horror. Even on a very subtle level, Sato takes his quiet and focused style and is able to make a profound criticism of the current school system, its teacher-student relationships, and even modern relationships between adults and children. The best aspect of Eko Eko Azarak is the character, Misa, and the performance by Kimika Yoshino (whose photo is currently the header for this blog in Takashi Miike's Gozu (2003)).
The viewer knows virtually nothing about Misa or her background. Sato would draw Misa's history much deeper in his subsequent feature Eko Eko Azarak: Birth of the Wizard (1996), with Yoshino returning as Misa. However, the mystery surrounding Misa adds both to the film's overall sense of mystery and the tragedy within the film, as well. Mizuno learns that at Misa's previous school there were several deaths involving Misa. She tells this to Shindo, and it's why Misa cannot get close to anyone. Shindo doesn't care. He loves her anyway. Kimika Yoshino is strikingly beautiful and has gorgeous sleepy eyes, which she imbues with both sadness and intense focus. Yoshino's fantastic, while the rest of the cast gives stereotypical over-the-top performances in stereotypical roles. Eko Eko Azarak does have it's share of b-movie cheese, especially near the end, and the cheese ranges from slightly annoying to awesomely sublime.
Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness is a little film that has stayed with me since the first time that I saw it around its original release date. It's certainly cheesy, but it's comfort-food cheese: fun to see every once and while and not really filling but certainly, deliciously consumable.