Review: Pet Shop of Horrors

It’s time for another round of grave-robbing fun with RERUNS FROM THE CRYPT… (Crypt…Crypt…Crypt…)

Trust me, it sounds cooler out of the text.

Anyway, after last week’s starting us off on a wonderfully psychological romp, we’re taking a bit of a different tack this week. We’re doubling down on last week’s anthology format at the cost of a much shorter series length and working in a dash of macabre morality tale along with it.

We’re going back to 1999 for the Madhouse produced miniseries Pet Shop of Horrors.

Pet Shop of Horrors Title

It’s a bit strange this series is as short as it is – it’s a four episode adaptation of a manga series that ran for ten volumes. As such, this is really only a quick taste of what it has to offer, but it’s interesting enough for what it is.

The story takes place in Chinatown out in LA – the focus in particular is on two characters. The first of these is Count D – a mysterious man who runs the show’s titular pet shop, a business he claims deals in hopes and dreams and always seems to have what people need, albeit with some strings attached. The other main player is Leon Orcot, a detective who’s been investigating a number of unusual deaths in the area and finding all their paths eventually lead them to Count D’s shop.

While Leon’s investigation of D provides a sort of continuous spine to the story, it is ultimately an anthology format. Each episode focuses on a new customer who graces D’s shop, where he has a special ‘pet’ just for them. The transaction is made, with clear set rules that must be followed, and if they’re not, as the good Count reminds the customers: he won’t be responsible for what happens.

"Oh, and by the way, we have a strict 'You break them, you bought them' policy here."

“Oh, and by the way, we have a strict ‘You break them, you bought them’ policy here.”

Yeah, you can kind of guess a part of how this is going down – it’s a sort of middle ground of Gremlins and the darker aspects of Willy Wonka as a horror morality play goes.

Which, in a way, is both a pro and con to this series. Given it’s short enough you can prettymuch do the whole thing in a single sitting (it all clocks out at under two hours), the formula of the show becomes apparent pretty quickly. By the second episode, I already found myself starting to guess where each story was going in terms of its big secret. To their credit, they did at least wrong-foot me on the ‘which rule will be broken this time’ front, so there’s that.

Formula aside, it’s a fairly enjoyable little ride. It’s not a high end masterpiece, but it also never really falters in any crippling ways. There’s little things that might prove off-putting (some early CG in a couple of scenes sticks out, but is a far cry from the infamous days of Golgo-13) but most of those are pretty easy to just go with.

You know, Zoo is a disturbing enough film before you get to the deleted scenes.

You know, Zoo is a disturbing enough film before you get to the deleted scenes.

That said, there is one other caveat to keep in mind. It’s a minor thing, but if you’re unsure which language to go with on watching this, it’s something to keep in mind. The dub on this is…let’s just go with dated. I mean this in two ways. First, expect a fair amount of liberties with its script – not like completely rewriting the plot, but different enough to change some tones and attitudes of certain scenes – the first scene is a good example of this, as a formerly just angry customer is now outright insolent. Which leads to the other way this is dated – some random obscenities peppered throughout. To go back to that first scene for example, the dub takes a statement of general displeasure and changes it so the displeased customer drops an f-bomb on Count D. No. Not that f-bomb. The other one.

Yeah. Just so you know what you’re getting into if you go that route. It’s an interesting time capsule in that regard, but if you’re a stickler for degrees of dub fidelity, this could be a deal breaker.

"For the last time, yes - death, dismemberment, immolation, being pulled apart by wild horses and being cast into 90% of the world's religions versions of Hell. None are my problem if you break the rules. What part of 'We take no responsibility' isn't getting through here?"

“For the last time, yes – death, dismemberment, immolation, being pulled apart by wild horses and being cast into 90% of the world’s religions versions of Hell. None are my problem if you break the rules.
What part of ‘We take no responsibility’ isn’t getting through here?”

All in all though, it’s not a bad series. Brief, to be certain, and feels like it just sort of drops off without ever really going any where beyond a scattering of stories, but for what it is, it’s not a bad way to spend two hours.

Plus, with that in mind, you can buy up the whole thing in one shot pretty easily. Hardly a huge deal breaker, but a small upside to that short time.

Thus concludes this week’s series. I can promise you two pluses to next week: 1) a longer run time and 2) children in peril.

…wait..that’s not a plus for some people? … Oh boy…anyway, catch you next time!

Pros:

-‘Story of the week’ plots interesting horror morality plays

-Though it’s not paid off, the series builds the mystery of Count D well

Cons:

-Episodic nature means the ‘story of the week’ stories are good, but the overarching story doesn’t really go anywhere

-Dub differs enough that it can be an impact on which language you watch it in (the fact it takes place in America further complicating that.)

Rating: 3.5/5

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This is what happens when a man takes a degree in English and the excessive analytic skills therein and chooses to use them for... ...is this evil? I'm not sure. But there are monsters and potentially robots, so there's potential for evil. ...we'll get back to you on that.

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Guyinthe3rdrow

This is what happens when a man takes a degree in English and the excessive analytic skills therein and chooses to use them for... ...is this evil? I'm not sure. But there are monsters and potentially robots, so there's potential for evil. ...we'll get back to you on that.

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