31 Days of Horror: The Kingdom

Lars Von Trier's latest movie Antichrist has been causing all sorts of controversy. It's one of those movies that once you see it - you can't ever unsee it if you catch my drift. But it's not Von Trier's first foray into the horror genre. In 1994 he wrote and directed a Danish TV series called Riget (The Kingdom). It's a weird, quirky and at times quite the horrifying little show about the various going-ons at a Danish hospital. The show followed several story lines and was only four episodes long. It ended with more questions than answers. Von Trier then followed it up with a sequel in 1997 called Riget II (The Kindgom II). It also didn't really clear anything up and by the time Von Trier thought about finishing the series up - five of the original cast members had died - including both main leads.

The story follows a Swedish doctor named Stig Helmer (Ernst-Hugo Järegård) who is working at Copenhagen's Rigshospitalet - the city and the country's main hospital. The place is nicknamed Riget - meaning The Kingdom. Helmer is working there after he screwed up and left a patient a vegetable. Meanwhile a psychic old woman called Sigrid Drusse (Kirsten Rolffes) is looking for the ghost of a little girl and the little girl's body so that the poor thing can finally rest. Another story has a female doctor who finds out that she's pregnant and that the father might be a ghost played by Udo Kier.

The show is shot in Von Trier's Dogme style although he breaks more than a few rules for this production. The show itself is very weird, funny, quirky and terrifying. Every episode ends with Swedish Dr. Helmer standing outside screaming at the sky "Danish Scum!"

Despite not being a movie - it has made the list of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Sadly Hollywood remade this as Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital. With emphasis on Stephen King who apparently adapted Von Trier's scripts. That version is not included on 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

The ending of season one is so horrible - it just happens to be one of those things that you can't ever unsee that I mentioned earlier. It's so horrible that Japanese director Takashi Miike borrows the scene for his movie Gozu and to some extent in the movie Izo. I reckon if I have to live with such a horrible image forever burned into my brain - I should have company and thus recommend this show.

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