RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
•Making of parts 1 & 2
•Opening day stage greetings
It’s anime via H.G. Lewis turned up to 11, with a little bit of John Waters for good measure.
Directors: Naoyuki Tomomatsu, Yoshihiro Nishimura
Cast: Yukie Kawamura, Eri Otoguro, Takumi Saito, Sayaka Kametani, Kanji Tsuda, Jiji Bu, and Eihi Shiina, Takashi Shimizu
Enjoying their new masochism bear
Monami (Yukie Kawamura) is the new girl vampire in school and it’s Valentines day. Giving chocolate to a boy means offering him your affections. When Monami gives Jyugon (Takumi Saito) a piece of homemade chocolate little does he know it’ll be super delicious! Also full of Monami’s vampire blood. This causes Jyugon to lose himself to Monami much to the dismay of Keiko (Eri Otoguro), the resident mean girl. In a war between teenage girls for the affection of another, the vampire usually wins and in this case Keiko ends up dead after falling off the roof of the school. It’s a good thing then that her father, the vice principal of the school, is also a mad scientist working with dismembered student body parts on creating new life. So after a little work, Keiko is back to business, now outfitted with better body parts and an erector set-like ability to add new pieces of anything to herself all with the help of a power drill. Who will win in the fight for the heart of a Japanese pretty boy?
The sad life of the Courtney Love paparazzi
First of all, a warning: this review is going to contain some caveats. If that bothers you then just skip past the lowdown and directly to the package and the score.
Still here? Good.
I love this film. Keeping to the traditions of Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police it’s filled to the brim with gore, bad taste humor, absurd and fun characters, and over the top teenage dramatics. Throw in some classic monster bits and you can understand why I enjoyed myself so much.
Box cutter for my Valentine.
There is a point early on where I thought the film had pushed the boundaries too far. There is a group of girls made to look like some of the most offensive minstrel like black caricatures I have ever seen. They have tanned and makeup black skin, and one even has a lip plate. They love everything about African American culture, from spouting Obama’s “Yes, we can” slogan to trying to emulate Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s athletic abilities. Here’s the thing, it’s in bad taste, unbelievably bad taste, but it’s not racist. This isn’t the films idea of what African American people are like, it’s a parody of a specific Japanese sub-culture. It ain’t sensitive, but it is in the essence of the rest of the film.
Early stage Doctor Manhattan’s marching.
Don’t get me wrong this isn’t the only horrendously offensive part of the movie, and as I said this is why it didn’t flat out ruin the experience for me. The sight of a team of varsity wrist cutters preparing for competition is par for the course. Rampant and wanton teenage death barely even registers in this one. It pushes the boundaries of acceptable bad taste, but with a smirk that never lets anything get too far afield. Some will be offended and I can’t blame them too much. The world created here is in the spirit of something you’d see in a Troma film. If that turns you off, then be advised.
The actors in this film are pretty uniformly up (or down, depending on your perspective) to the material. Takumi Saito as the love interest Jyugon is fairly bland, but in my estimation that works for the material. One reviewer I read muse that he may have been wearing pink lipstick and that sounds about right for the bland pretty boy of the story. Yukie Kawamura plays the titular Vampire Girl/Monami and is able to make the meet cute period of the love story work while maintaining the absurdity of the proceedings. This ain’t actor showcase material, but it is a necessary part to be able to execute it. Eri Otoguro playing Frankenstein Girl/Keiko gets the slightly meatier role. Playing nice is fine, but mean is more fun, and Eri has fun with the character. Although not coming alive (pun possibly intended) until after being revived, she seems to be having a ball playing something so ridiculous.
The movie is easily stolen by actor Kanji Tsuda playing father to Frankenstein Girl and high school vice principal, Kenji Furano. While in normal everyday guise he is a put upon father to a high maintenance daughter while being nervous and fearful around his colleagues. It is when he dons his Kabuki makeup and spinal guitar as heir apparent to the legacy of mad doctor Frankenstein that he really lets loose. When he declares the joys of chopping up ones own daughter with her lifeless body in front of him, you know what kind of movie you’re watching.
Jiji Bu plays the human retainer to Monami, Igor. It’s the silent weirdo role he has done before. He gets to don some skeletal samurai armor in the final action scene, so there’s that. Sayaka Kametani is the school nurse and assistant to Furano in his experiments. Her role is to be the sexy sidekick and fill that role she does. There are small parts/cameos by Audition star Eihi Shiina as the tragic story mother of Monami, and Takashi Shimizu as a Chinese language teacher (who won’t shut up about his films Ju-On and The Grudge). Both are fun but unnecessary.
Having two directors working on the film might have been risky, in that a film can become over directed and/or with two different ideas of what kind of film it should be. In a way there seems to be two facets to the film, the splatter comedy extravaganza and the bad taste humor. Both of these aspects get to exist within their own space while not distracting from the other nor feeling like they belong in a separate film. Comparing with my experiences with these Japanese gore comedies, this feels like one of the most balanced in terms of maintaining a high level of splatter and humor, the main reasons this movie exists, whereas I felt that the gore setpieces distracted from the humor in Tokyo Gore Police.
Having two special effects guys directing always guarantees one thing, lots of effects. It seems that they’ve stepped back a bit from the epic gore extravaganza that was Tokyo Gore Police, but don’t think that means that what is there doesn’t fill the need effectively. One of the opening scenes has Monami bite the flesh off a reanimated schoolgirl in one long strip, like unwrapping a mummy. It did not disappoint in the gore department even if it is done in a more lighthearted fashion than previous Tomomatsu/Nishimura films.
“Who forgot an arm, you guys?”
From an objective standpoint I recognize that the sometimes Japanese humor and several miles over the top gore isn’t going to work for some people. If you find yourself rolling your eyes when I type those things, then move along. It’s a pure bad taste riot at times. I’ve always put big recommendations to watching these types of films for folks under the influence and this one is no different. It plays well to a solo sober watching as well as a blind stinking drunk viewing with a group. If you share my love of all things fun, gory, absolutely batshit insane, psychedelic, and silly you will most definitely find something to enjoy in this film. Lots of recommendation from me.
Included is a theatrical trailer. There is a stage presentation from the two directors and two stars. a fun chance to see the minds behind this interact with the stars. It runs around 20 minutes. There is two behind the scenes features, the first is fairly lighthearted and enjoyable although not terribly informative. At 15 minutes it’s worth a peek for the chance to see some of the actors laugh at themselves and generally have fun with the material. Part 2 is the shooting journal which runs about 50 minutes. It’s more than EPK material and helps justify the second disc. There is plenty of behind the scenes gore effects in action for those interested. There is a Japanese audio track with optional sutitles as well as an English 5.1 track.
Possible alternate sequel.