Dead Sushi

Went to go watch the HIFF screening of this latest from director Noboru Iguchi. Here on our shores, he’s probably best known for Machine Girl which got fairly wide exposure, in addition to the usual film festival screenings it also got a US DVD release. His other works that I’ve seen are Mutant Girl Squad, Sukeban Boy, and he directed some of the eps of the Dogou Girl series. If none of these ring a bell, then you probably are not part of the demographic of those who enjoy these types of films. Were talking B (is it even that high?) grade Japanese gratutious splatter, nudity, prothstetic makeup, low budget effects, violence movies.

When I read the synopsis, I figured I had to see this. Reanimated killer sushi, zombies, martial arts butt kicking girl (although actually there’s no mention that she’s a school girl nor a uniform in sight), how can you go wrong? Do I need to even bother with a plot synopsis? I think the creators probably were hanging out at their favorite izakaya and had knocked back a little too many bottles of sake and jockeys of draft and someone said,

“hey, wouldn’t a movie with killer sushi be cool?”

“Yeah, and a cute girl who can kick ass, everyone digs butt kicking school girls!”

“Ooo ooo, zombies are the latest in thing, we gotta have those too!”

“Let’s do it!”

And so this movie was born, the plot probably was made to string all these elements together. In any case, it makes sense, in a warped kind of way.

So how was the movie, you ask? I have to say I was entertained. But on the other hand I can’t say it was an outstanding piece of the genre. Tropes galore, which isn’t a bad thing and works to decent effect here. I think the audience for these kinds of films love that it’s played straight. There are a few pretty amusing sequences, former AV actress Asami steals a number of them. When I think about it, the use of the “mascot” character was pretty inspired. If you wanted to, you could use the lines that it brought up as a basis to “analyse” a possible underlying message about food and humans relation to it. It being able to illicit an awww response and then you realize how silly it is was pretty funny. Of course Japan can moe-ise anything. The fighting with Rina Takeda was pretty cool, although there was more than a few times where there was obviously no contact with clearly visible large gaps. She’s making a pretty good showing of the fact that having a cute girl with real high level martial arts training makes for much better action than taking a cute actress and using angles and editing to try and make convincing  fighting action.

I think where this film faltered to attain “greatness” in comparison to a personal fave of mine, Vampire Girl vs Frakenstein Girl, was it’s “ordinaryness”. It lacked the one after another wacked out WTF moments of having a kabuki mad scientist, helicopter head, flaming Segway Mom, St. Francis Xavier, and ganguro extreme, to name a few. Also there was too much use of cheap CG. There’s no substitute for props on strings, geysers of real fake blood (huh?), and exploding  models.

So while I don’t feel like it was a waste of 90 minutes of my life, I also won’t be looking to buy the DVD for it. In fact I’m glad I spent the time and money to catch it in the theater, it was fun to have the reaction of others in the theater and as a bonus Rina Takeda was there. She actually made squeaky noises with her footwork, and if you were up front she might even have been making the swooshy noises. She’s even tinier in real life!

2.5 out of 4 reanimated monkeys.

P.S. I do want to see Noboru Iguchi’s previous work just because of the genius of a title, Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead!

2 Responses to “Dead Sushi”

  • I had no real idea what I was in for, but I felt a little let down that there weren’t many zombies, nor did they meet their demise with the appropriate level of decapitation/exploding heads/fountains of blood. If this is the direction where the gore/splatter genre is headed, I am not particularly happy. There was way too much cheesy CG, and not enough “real” fake blood. When you see a room prepared with plastic sheeting on the walls and there is no squirting, gushing bloodbath, you feel ripped off. Not Iguchi’s best work.

    “Nothing that sings this nicely can be evil”?

    Got the handshake, but didn’t stick around for the post-showing Q&A.

    Just a sidenote, the actor who played the pharmaceutical company boss was the same dude who played the butler from Anno’s 2004 Cutey Honey live action film, Tezuka Toru. He’s tyepcast as the “creepy little psychotic guy”, so he’s been in a lot of films playing pretty much the same part. Of course washed-up sushi chef guy and hack sushi chef guy have been in a pile of things too, but I’m not going to go look it up.

  • Sushi dad was Igor from Frankenstein girl!

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