Get infected in Hong Kong with SARS Zombies!

SARS Zombies posterBack in July, I had the opportunity of attending a press screening of a film that I had never heard of before: SARS Zombies. The debut film of director, producer, scriptwriter, action director, special makeup artist, and actor Samuel Leong, SARS Zombies is quite possibly the very first serious homegrown Hong Kong zombie flick (at least in the Romero sense of the term). I recently interview Sam for SCREAM magazine, and the issue is available now! For now, here is the synopsis from my article, a trailer, and info on the screenings in Hong Kong taking place this weekend!

“The story begins 10 years after the 2003 outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in Hong Kong. A gang of thieves has decided to raid a jewelry dealer situated in a large industrial building, and after a heated face-off between the gang leader (also played by director Sam Leong) and the security guards on duty, it seems that the felons have achieved their purpose. While they search the premises, however, they accidentally stumble into another flat inhabited by a man and his young daughter. It turns out that the man is a doctor who, driven to insanity by the loss of his wife to the first SARS outbreak, has been working ceaselessly to find a cure ever since. Engaging in increasingly questionable experiments, the man eventually resorted to testing on cadavers and even his own daughter, who became the host of a mutant strain of the SARS virus, this time standing for “Sudden Aggressive Reanimation Syndrome.”

Of course, it isn’t long before the girl bites one of the gangsters as he attempts to force her out of the flat. In the inevitable mayhem that ensues, the robbers and hostages are progressively infected, with the entire building eventually becoming a hive of the undead. The film climaxes in a high-kicking, bone-crunching, head-drilling last stand against the living dead, finally revealing a twist that drives home some of the more subtle commentary that director Sam Leong has attempted to infuse within his neoteric effort at zombie cinema.”

SHOW DATE: October 25, 26, and 27, 2013

SHOW TIME: 19:30 ~

VENUE: Causeway Bay (Windsor UA Cinema)


Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead 2 & 3!

Lust of the DeadI have arrived in Japan, and the first surprise of the day was finding Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s latest outré contributions to the burgeoning(?!) genre of rape/zombie films: Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead 2 & 3. For those who have read my previous post on the maiden title in this series, and those who are aware of the fact that Japan has practically built up a porn industry based on non-consensual intercourse, this should come as no surprise. For the rest of you…well, watch the trailers below and consider yourselves warned.

Put Some Pants On That Zombie! A Review Of “LUST OF THE DEAD”

Some of you may recall my recent post about Naoyuki Tomomatsu‘s latest foray into the zombie genre, the appropriately entitled Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead.  Well, the premiere has come and gone, and while I was sadly unable to attend, I did manage to purchase the DVD (actually released the day before the theatrical showing) and give the film a proper viewing.  How good can a film about undead creatures bent on violating the womenfolk of the world possibly be?  I probably shouldn’t answer that, but I will give you my thoughts and impressions of the latest attempt to send George A. Romero to an early grave.  Let’s get started, shall we?

The Story

Jumping right into the action, we see Kanae (Asami) going about her daily housework when she is suddenly assaulted by her abusive husband. While being raped, the television begins to broadcast news of mass rape incidents taking place across the city by unidentified assailants who seem to be no more than living corpses.  The incidents prompt Kanae to fight back and kill her husband, and we are treated to a crazily edited sequence of news broadcasts as various authorities attempt to make sense of the chaos.  It seems that radiation from space has somehow turned non-virgin men into zombified rape demons, whose only weakness is a certain part of their anatomy between their legs.  What’s worse, the women who are taken by these sex-crazed ghouls are killed almost instantly by the poisonous seed of their attackers.  We soon meet up with former office lady Momoko (Saya Kobayashi) and nurse Nozomi (Arisu Ozawa) as they seek shelter in a Shinto shrine not far from Tokyo.  In the shrine they meet up with Kanae and schoolgirl Tomoe (Yui Aikawa), who have decided to make a stand with a cache of assault rifles and explosives pilfered from an abandoned military jeep.  The two pairs are initially leery of each other, but it isn’t long before they come to an agreement and decide that mutual aid is in order.  A romance blooms between wrist-cutting Momoko and the older-sister-type Nozomi, both of whom had traumatic experiences at the hands of men.  Their sapphic interlude is punctuate by a new surprise: the head of the shrine has been there the whole time, but it seems that his otaku lifestyle and unbroken virginity have somehow protected him from the zombie plague, and he soon proves (somewhat dubiously) useful by providing changes of clothing for Momoko and Kanae, who take on the costumes of a maid and a shrine maiden, respectively.  All is not well, however, as North Korea blames Japan for the disaster and declares war, and it isn’t long though before the hordes of decaying deviants are knocking at the door.  Everything ends in an explosively confusing yet original conclusion that you’ll have to see for yourself!

The Good(?)

Something that keeps this film from being completely unwatchable is the enthusiasm of the four main actresses, and also the surprisingly well-thought-out televised commentaries that appear interspersed throughout as the four women watch the unfolding situation via PC.  The speakers are delightfully ridiculous and over the top (including an outspoken pundit with an eyepatch as a nod to Dawn of the Dead), and the twisted yet strangely convincing explanation of the rape zombie phenomenon as a natural step in the evolution of mankind and the Earth itself is certainly proof that some effort was made to create a unique contribution to the zombie genre.  The whole premise is also tied in (albeit shakily) with the Japanese mythology of the sun goddess Amaterasu, and together with the satire of Japan’s modern culture make this a uniquely Japanese take on the undead.  One of the funniest moments may be when a group of women are watching a North Korean missile soar through the skies toward Tokyo.  Rather than screaming or running for cover, they all pull out their cell phones and begin taking photos.  As a person living in Japan, I can honestly say that this also may have been one of the most realistic moments in the entire film.

The Bad

As low-budget zombie flicks go, this one certainly suffers a bit.  A lot of handheld cameras and uninteresting angles are to be expected from a director who is known for his adult videos, but when it comes to those sequences Tomomatsu certainly does shine, and he even manages to get some decent action scenes with Asami fighting off the zombies as well.  However, while the CG is used sparingly and to relatively good effect, the prosthetics and practical effects are sub-par at best, and sometimes just downright painful.  That said, the effects aren’t really distracting as the characters really drive the story forward, and the film is paced well enough to keep up the audience’s interest in what is happening.

The Undead

Trading in their traditional shambling gait in favor of the undignified waddle of a man with his pants around his ankles, Tomomatsu’s ghouls have about as much realism as they do regard for mutual consent during intercourse.  The general makeup effects look like something from a cheap Halloween store, while the poorly fitted latex masks appear to be leftovers from Helldriver‘s scrap bin.  Again, one can also choose to look at these shortcomings as a part of the film’s charm and, as mentioned above, the effects aren’t significantly distracting, especially since the camera is less concerned with showcasing the zombies than it is in getting as many breast shots as possible.  Is this something to complain about?  I’ll leave you to decide.  But the answer is no.

And so, in conclusion I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead.  While I expected a one-trick zombie, I found a unique little film that actually has a fair amount going for it in terms of social satire and comedy.  It’s a fun little romp through a perverted post-apocalypse world that only Japan could bring us, and so if you have the chance, grab your libation of choice and sit back for what might just be the guilty pleasure of the year!

Hang on to your ZOMBIE ASS! It’s Noboru Iguchi’s “TOILET OF THE DEAD!”

Night of the Living Dead began in a graveyard.

Resident Evil began with a virus.

And now, Zombie Ass begins from a toilet…

Noboru Iguchi, the mad genius responsible for The Machine Girl and bête noire of rectophobes around the globe, is forcing audiences to roll up their sleeves, take out their plungers, and dive down to where zombies have rarely gone before: the sh***er.

Yes, this is a real film, as if we could doubt anything to come from Japan after my recent report on the upcoming Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead.  Offering ass-loads of toilet humor garnished with liberal amounts lots of flesh-ripping and feces-flinging action, Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead was shown at the Texas Fantastic Fest in September 2011, and just saw its Japanese premiere in Tokyo this past weekend on February 25th.

Zombie Ass stars Arisa Nakamura, Mayu Sugano, Asana Mamoru, as well as Iguchi regulars AsamiKentaro Kishi, and Kentaro Shimazu and tells the tale of Megumi, a young karate student and her friends as they find themselves confronted with the menace of a parasitic breed of intestinal worm that turns its victims into horrifying ghouls!  And what’s more, it seems that only the power of flatulence can possibly save humanity from these undying terrors of the toilet!  Remember, this is coming from a man who proudly proclaims himself as a “legendary ass-fetishist.”  I would attempt to make more toilet/anus-related jokes, but I have a feeling that I might just be beating a dead ass – er, horse, so I’ll leave you with the trailer.  Just don’t watch the film after eating.

RAPE ZOMBIE?!? Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s “LUST OF THE DEAD”

Well, the zombie boom continues around the world, and leave it to a Japanese director to come up with something so outrageous, so gauche, and so tasteless, that one can only wonder why someone hasn’t thought of it before.  The title says it all.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead.

Brought to us by Naoyuki Tomomatsu, the co-director of Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and director of another Japanese zombie schlock film, Zombie Self-Defense Force, this horror/comedy film takes audiences to new levels of undead indecency and reverse necrophilia, featuring a cast of notable AV (adult video) actresses such as Asami (The Machine Girl, RoboGeisha), Arisu Ozawa, Yui Aikawa, and Saya Kobayashi (currently one of Japan’s hottest AV stars).  According to the Japanese description

Undying rape spirits that have taken the form of human men descend upon helpless women in this sexy/horror/action film. Incidents of rampaging men raping women break out across Tokyo.  Refusing to die even after their heads are lopped off and their hearts shot out, it seems that the only way to defeat these creatures is to sever the ****s from between their legs…

Well, if that doesn’t sound like a fun-filled romp for the whole family, then I don’t know what does!  An official selection of the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival 2012 (February 23 – February 27), the Japanese DVD will be released on March 2, followed by a late-night theatrical event with several other films at Theatre Shinjuku on March 3, with some of the cast and crew in attendance.  More info (in Japanese) can be found on director/writer Tomomatsu’s blog.  You can also Like the film on Facebook here.

Sushi Is Hungry! Noboru Iguchi’s “DEAD SUSHI”!

Time flies by on leathery, bat-like wings here at Castle Skeleton, and a look at the cobweb-ridden calendar on the wall tells me that Candlemas has already come and gone without a single post here at my horror blog!  Well, to rectify the situation I decided to highlight one of the latest slices of cinematic WTFery to be spawned from the mind of delightfully demented director Noboru Iguchi: Dead Sushi.  Responsible for films that have gained loyal cult followings such as The Machine Girl, RoboGeisha, and Karate-Robo Zaborgar, Iguchi is sure to please once again as martial artist and actress Rina Takeda (High Kick Girl!, Dogoon V) takes on an army of killer sushi!  Shigeru Matsuzaki will also appear, along with Iguchi regulars Asami and Demo Tanaka.   This visual and gastronomical(?) delight will hit theaters soon, but for now check out the trailer and flyer, with English text supplied by my good friend Norman England.  Itadakimasu!

Looking into “The Beyond”

The season of Samhain and All Hallow’s Evening has come and gone, and I find that my pen has been long neglected, due in part to my recent journeys to South Korea to experience the cultural (and culinary) flavor of that nearby nation. And so, what better way to make a comeback than to discuss one of my favorite films of all time, Lucio Fulci’s 1981 masterpiece of the macabre, The Beyond (…E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà)!

Considered by many to be Fulci’s maleficent magnum opus, this follow-up to City of the Living Dead saw its first US release in heavily censored format from Aquarius Releasing under the title of Seven Doors of Death. Not only was much of the blood and gore lost to the cutting room floor, Fabio Frizzi’s haunting musical compositions were also completely replaced as well. One particularly egregious case of tampering even inexplicably credited the director of the work as one Louis Fuller! In spite of such wanton butchering (and thanks to the circulation of bootlegs from abroad), The Beyond maintained a cult following into the nineties, eventually culminating in its release on DVD under the auspices of Grindhouse Releasing and Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Production Company in 1998. A Blu-ray version was made available earlier this year, much to the devilish delight of horror aficionados the world over.

Attempts to describe the plot of this particularly grisly slice of Italian horror often come off as mere exercises in futility, and querulous individuals who repine over incoherent storylines are advised to quit before the opening credits have ended. Those who are willing to be carried away by the raging gyres of Fulci’s cinematic storm, however, will find a phantasmagorical and oneiric haunted house thrill ride that takes viewers through surreal and metaphysical vistas that continue the themes introduced by City of the Living DeadCatriona MacColl, the previous installment’s female lead, takes on this time the role of Liza Merril, a young woman who has recently inherited the old Seven Doors Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, which she decides to restore and open up for business. What she doesn’t realize is that the hotel was built upon one of the seven doors of death described in the mysterious Book of Eibon (the Lovecraftian tome invented by Clark Ashton Smith), and that it was the scene of the violent lynching and crucifixion of an artist named Schweick (Antoine Saint-John) who had become aware of the hotel’s secret and thus labeled a warlock by the surrounding townsfolk. As violent deaths and unexplained occurrences increase in frequency around the ill-fated location, Liza is aided by pragmatic and skeptical local doctor John McCabe (David Warbeck), while also receiving cryptic warnings from an enigmatic blind girl named Emily (Cinzia Monreale), who seems to have some unspeakable connection with the hotel’s darkly shadowed past. The eldritch happenings and gruesome murders continue, eventually culminating in a final shootout against the undead (Fulci’s grudging concession to the zombie craze that was sweeping across Europe) who begin pouring through the steadily opening hell-gate. The ending is much too good to give away here, but I will say that the director doesn’t disappoint, and leaves audiences to form their own conclusions about the nature of life, death, and what lies beyond.

Bringing in regular collaborators like Dardano Sacchetti (screenplay [co-writer] and story), Sergio Salvati (cinematography), and Fabio Frizzi (music), The Beyond stands as one of the most technically brilliant and artistically pure visions to come from the wonderfully twisted mind of Lucio Fulci, who pays homage to French playwright Antonin Artaud through his own surrealistic “Theatre of Cruelty.”  If you haven’t already, be sure to check out this chilling classic, now available on DVD and Blu-ray.  You won’t regret it…or will you?

In other (somewhat unfortunate) news, my interview with Japanese actress Eihi Shiina in SCREAM magazine has been pushed back to the January issue due to circumstances beyond my control. For now, pick up the newest issue for the latest in all things horror, out now! Until next time, unpleasant dreams…