Stephen reviews: Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

tokyogorepolice_1Tokyo Gore Police [東京残酷警察 Tōkyō Zankoku Keisatsu] (2008)

Starring Eihi Shiina, Itsuji Itao, Yukihide Benny, Jiji Bu, Ikuko Sawada, Cay Izumi

Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

This whole October I’ve been reviewing films that started strong and then trailed off into blandness by the end, so it was nice to finish out the month with a film that did the exact opposite. I avoided any information about this film other than its director, who also made Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. That movie was bat-shit crazy right out of the gates, so I was rather disappointed when Tokyo Gore Police seemed so humdrum at first. Sure, it opened with a huge showdown between weird samurai-dressed cops and a hobo with a chainsaw arm, but this is supposed to be Japanese weird and it just wasn’t weird enough to impress. This is also horror comedy, so the poorly made martial arts sequences weren’t doing anything for me either.

The next part of the film went on a spree of the typical horror fare that makes me avoid the genre. Walking around in dark hallways in a vain attempt to amp up the tension. Boring. Although I did have to laugh at the main character’s undercover hooker costume, it was nowhere near enough to make up for all the sitting around pretending to take things seriously that was going on. What was enough to break the spell of boredom was the moment when the villain rips off the top of his head and sprouts gun barrels from his eyes. That was new.

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Stephen reviews: Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009)

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl [吸血少女対少女フランケン, Kyūketsu Shōjo tai Shōjo Furanken] (2009)

Starring Yukie Kawamura, Takumi Saitō, Eri Otoguro, Sayaka Kametani, Jiji Bū, Kanji Tsuda, Eihi Shiina

Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura & Naoyuki Tomomatsu

This movie is insane. I just want to put that out there so you know what you’re getting into, because even more than the title bout, pure insanity is the defining trait of this film. And it lives up to the title right away. The opening scene has Vampire Girl take on not one, not two, but three Frankenstein girls simultaneously. This battle is mostly a promise of what’s to come during the main event, which won’t happen until the end of the film, but when one of them gets her face ripped off like an unraveling toilet paper roll, you know some crazy shit is going down.

That brings me to the most plentiful feature in the movie: gore. People are getting ripped apart all over the place. This is a modern B-movie, so you have to expect some lame CG effects, but Vampire Girl uses them more as a crutch than a wheelchair. The CG is used a lot, but much of the stuff is done the old-fashioned way as well. They never hesitate to fill a fake skull with fake gore and wrap fake skin around it for the more elaborate mutilations, and they even put in a good exploding head. It all looks pretty fake, but it’s not played for excitement or scares; it’s played for laughs. The kind of laughs that can only come from watching a girl dance in a shower of blood spouting from a man’s neck while celebratory background music fills the air.

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Audition (1999)

Audition [オーディション] (1999)

Starring Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda, Toshie Negishi, Ren Ohsugi

Directed by Takashi Miike

Expectations: High.

Wow. Y’know for a movie with this much hype built up around it, and the fact that I kinda knew the ending in a vague way, I did not expect to be as blown away as I was by Audition. Truly one of the greatest modern horror films, Audition slowly unfolds its tale and pulls you into its story with likable, compelling characters. You could say that the first half is too slow, but that would be missing the point. The slowness is part of the film’s character and absolutely why the third act hits as hard as it does.

The film opens with Aoyama at the bedside of his dying wife. His son arrives with a get well present for his mother, but he’s too late. Seven years later and Aoyama is lonely and still overcome with grief, so his son suggests that he get out and date again. He does, kinda, but to tell anymore would betray the greatness of the film. Seriously, just watch it. It’s definitely the type of movie where knowing much at all will detract from the experience, but know that if you like non-standard horror, you’ll probably enjoy this. So come back after you’ve seen the movie, as I’m not actively trying to spoil anything, but even my vague descriptions of things will be too much.

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