I 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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 Asami, Kentaro 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.
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.
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!
By a strange and curious turn of events, I have found myself becoming the “man in Japan” for SCREAM, a UK-based magazine that is drawing fresh blood in the world of horror publications around the world. According to the web site:
SCREAM is Britain’s premier Horror Magazine. SCREAM is your best source for horror movies, DVD and Blu-rays, reviews, previews, celebrity interviews, books, games, film festival reports, comics and pretty much everything else you can think of in the world of horror…
While the vicissitudes of my various activities have prevented me from taking up my quill and ink here at Castle Skeleton recently, I was able to take the opportunity to pen some thoughts on my participation as a zombie in a Helldriver (Yoshihiro Nishimura) DVD spinoff filmed this past summer, which you can read about in Issue 7 of SCREAM, available now at news agents and book stores across the UK, and for international order at their web site: http://www.screamhorror.com/
Not only that, I also had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Japan’s undisputed splatter queen, Eihi Shiina! We discussed her roles in Audition (Takashi Miike), Tokyo Gore Police (Yoshihiro Nishimura), and, of course, the Sushi Typhoon zombie epic Helldriver, and she also shared with me some of her activities outside of the film world and her thoughts on life and love. You can read the full interview (conducted and translated by yours truly) in next month’s issue of SCREAM. For now, check out the post here on SCREAM’s home page. You won’t want to miss it!
After a brief chuckle over a humorous cameo in the final scene, one could almost perceive a collective sigh (of satisfaction) as the room brightened and the Helldriver launch came officially to a close. Slowly filing out of the theater, some audience members lingered in the lobby to examine the grotesque film props, observe the ongoing UStream talks, and donate money to the Tohoku Earthquake relief efforts for a chance to vote on their favorite Sushi Typhoon feature of the day. I’m pleased to say that Helldriver seemed to be winning by a landslide! My date for the evening, a lovely young lady by the name of Jessica, shared with me her impressions of the film as we stepped outside into the slightly cooler night air.
As is tradition at these events, the cast and crew members were standing outside of the theater doors with cheerful smiles on their faces, patiently taking the time to sign autographs and shake hands with their devoted fans. I felt honored when lead actress Yumiko Hara thanked me for coming both this time and back in March for the Tokyo premiere, saying that she remembered seeing me there even though we hadn’t been able to speak with each other. Receiving a firm handshake from Director Nishimura, I was congratulating him again on creating such a unique and “gutsy” film when, much to my surprise, he said, “Hey, let’s go drinking!” Almost before I knew it, Jessica and I were caught up with my friend Norman England and the Sushi Typhoon crew as we hit the streets of Ginza in search of a watering hole that could accommodate our sizable group – no easy task on a Saturday night in Japan’s largest city. After wandering about the streets like a disorganized flock of thirsty sheep and a few instances of jaywalking, we finally settled into a pleasant little izakaya (Japanese-style pub) with two large tables to seat everyone in our party.
I’m 15 years old. The film in my DVD player is called Audition, directed by Takashi Miike and featuring a beautiful young starlet by the name of Eihi Shiina as Asami Yamazaki. Having stumbled upon the film in my local rental shop’s woefully impoverished Foreign Film section, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It started off so innocently, like some kind of drama or romantic comedy…
Stepping into the room, Jessica and I were called over by Mr. Nishimura, and we found ourselves seated with him and director Noboru Iguchi (who told me a little about his upcoming film, presumably entitled Toilet of the Dead [EDIT: The official title has now been announced as Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead]). A toast is made to the success of the Sushi Typhoon film launches, and the good times begin.
I have to force myself to look at the screen. How did things end up like this? What I thought to be, at worst, a scathing dramatic critique of Japanese gender relations, has somehow become a nightmarish buildup of tension, ultimately reaching a conclusion that even I find difficult to watch. The director has built up the suspense masterfully, adding another turn of the screw with each new development. Eihi Shiina’s performance as Asami Yamazaki is terrifying, yet entrancingly beautiful. I can’t look away. My God…this is genius.
8 years later, I find a poster and trailer online for an “outrageous” new film. Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura…hmm…never heard of him. The theatrical poster draws me in with its simplicity though…a leggy Japanese heroine with raven-black hair stands proudly in a rather provocative police uniform against what looks to be a post-apocalyptic landscape. The bold capitalized letters of the title seem to tell me everything I need to know about this film: TOKYO GORE POLICE. But wait a minute…this woman looks familiar…
Flash forward to 2011…
Asami Yamazaki is sitting next to me. I can hardly believe it, but the lovely Eihi Shiina, who scarred my teenage mind (in the best way possible) with her portrayal of a vengeance-crazed sadist in Audition, and impressed me with her solid performance as engineer hunter Ruka in Tokyo Gore Police, is elegantly sipping her drink in the seat directly beside me! Having played a key role in Helldriver, Ms. Shiina is also present for the after-party!
Working up my courage, I manage to blurt out an introduction and explain how I was first exposed to her work, and she responds with a warm smile and a gentle handshake. When I complement her role in the film as Helldriver’s demented Rikka, mentioning that it was certainly a very different character from the calm and collected Ruka in TGP, she informs me with a wry smile that Mr. Nishimura told her to “act like Asami at the end of Audition…only for the whole movie.” In fact, fans of Audition may notice a subtle (and somewhat humorous) nod to the film’s final moments in the end of Helldriver. Throughout the evening I discover that Ms. Shiina is an extremely pleasant conversationalist, discussing her roles, the films of Messrs. Nishimura and Iguchi and their reception domestically and abroad, and her recently hatched plans to become the vocalist of her own band! Not only that, but it turns out that Ms. Shiina is a huge Neon Genesis Evangelion fan, and as the night wears on and the alcohol continues to flow, we discuss the finer points of the story and its implications, along with our opinions of the latest theatrical releases of the series. Our interests in anime run even deeper still, sharing a special fondness for director Mamoru Oshii’s early work Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer. Perhaps I’ve found a kindred spirit?
Spending most of her time in her home prefecture of Fukuoka, Ms. Shiina tells me that she truly values such opportunities to exchange thoughts and opinions in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. While her work as both a model (originally for Benetton) and actress have gained her international recognition, I can only hope to see more of her performances in the future, in film and on stage. Ms. Shiina is an elegant, thoughtful, well-spoken, and intelligent lady, and I feel truly honored to have been able to meet her under such circumstances.
As the seats empty and the floor space starts to become increasingly consumed by sleeping cast members exhausted from a long day of film launches, I realize that it is time to leave this unique look into the world of Helldriver. And so, this concludes my three-part look at the Helldriver launch. Look forward to information on the upcoming DVD release of the film, and in the meantime, check out Shiina Eihi’s personal web site here: Eihi Shiina Instrumentality Project ~To Tabris With Love~ She also has a report on the Helldriver launch and after-party in her most recent blog entries (Japanese)! Until next time, stay out of the sunlight!