Sunday, January 18, 2009

Vamp or Not? Bio Hunter

dvdThis 1995 anime, directed by Yuzo Sato, came onto my radar because it was listed in a top 70 vampire film list at the blog Snarkerati. It was the only listed movie I had not seen. I quickly sourced a copy to view and knew, before I put it on, that this was going to be a ‘Vamp or Not?’ as it came under none of the standard vampire filmographies.

It begins with sex, and Mary (Barbara Goodson) doesn’t seem to be concentrating on the act as she is hungry. Her unnamed partner seems oblivious to her pleas for food until her boob grows teeth and takes his hand off.

Mary breaks freeIn the university Koshigaya (Matt K Miller) is giving a molecular biology lecture though his attention seems to be on a flirty student. The lesson ends and his colleague Komada (Matt McKenzie) enters and they have to go to their other job. They are, we will discover later, biohunters and they go to Mary’s house, where her father has her chained in the cellar. Komada always cries when near them and Mary now has toothsome faces over her body, created by the demon virus. An injection in one causes it to melt but then she breaks free and grabs Komada.

rooftop fightKomada changes as well and the two end up fighting on the rooftop. However Komada still seems to be in control of his own mind and warns her that this will hurt. They do, stylistically, remind one of a vampiress fighting a werewolf – I’ll give them that at a push. Eventually she is on the floor, recovered from the virus it seems, and Koshigaya is taking samples of her excised mutagenic flesh.

the virusKoshigaya narrates quite a lot of the film and makes it clear that the demon virus is a retro virus but it is capable of radically altering DNA to cause rapid and monstrous evolution. He does mention vampires, but more in the fact that the virus could explain such things as vampires and ghosts. The virus causes the host to crave protein and iron in order that it can be fed. Following his transformation and change back Komada needs to eat, a lot. We also discover that an infected serial killer is haunting the city.

Sayaka and KomadaKomada goes out; his spirits melancholy as he doesn’t think he can have a relationship, due to the fact that he isn’t human. A girl, Sakaya (Sherry Lynn), runs past him and hides. Three thugs approach and ask if he has seen her. When he denies it the thugs grab him and he is just starting to change when the cops come by and the thugs scarper. Sakaya thanks him for staying silent about her whereabouts and is about to leave when he starts to cry.

BokudohHe knows she isn’t infected but she has something to do with the virus and so he takes her back to Koshigaya. It turns out that she is the granddaughter of a fortune teller called Bokudoh (Mike Reynolds). The thugs are hunting for Bokudoh via her. Koshigaya has heard of Bokudoh and, when it seems that he vanished as the infected serial killer started attacking, they agree to help her find granddaddy.

Komada changesCutting the story down so that we can get to the meat of the ‘Vamp or Not?’ question, the serial killer is a politician and he was warned of his impending infection by the fortune teller – though Bokudoh sees the disease as a supernatural rather than a viral contagion (and we should note that there is a strong supernatural leaning within the film). The bio hunters and Sakaya eventually find the old man and it is his description of the killer that feeds into the ‘Vamp or Not?’ debate. He says that the man is ‘devil possessed’. His body is dead but, because of the possession, he doesn’t know it. He must kill young women and devour their livers so that he does not rot.

Is he a vampire?However, despite having at least an overtone of the vampire within that description, when we see him in his attacking glory, a face at the belly and all tentacles, I was reminded more of The Thing than a vampire. I doubt the liver was all that important, certainly he had lost himself to the virus and needed to feed it or die – feeding involved cannibalistic attacks via polymorphic flesh.

Komada transformed with KoshigayaWriter Yoshiaki Kawajiri would go on to write and direct the fabulous Vampire Hunter D and I can see some of the themes within that developing here. However this is not vamp and should not have been in the quoted top 70.

The imdb page is here.

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