Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl – review


Directors: Yoshihiro Nishimura & Naoyuki Tomomatsu

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

Boy, have I been waiting for this one. Ever since I first saw the trailer this has been on my must see list. After I watched Nishimura’s Machine Girl my desire to see this only increased. Described to me as Japanese Splatterpunk there was more blood in the trailer than the average vampire film has in its running time. My anticipation was sky high but anticipation can be a harsh mistress, ofttimes disappointingly so…

Not this time, I am pleased to say. This time I got what I expected, a zany off the wall Japanese gore and violence fest and the first thing to note with this is that the producers and director of Blood: the Last Vampire should have hung fire and taken a moment to watch this… perhaps that would have cured the more mainstream film of its case of the terminal boredoms.

attack of the LolisThe film starts at the end, as it were, after we are informed (presumably for the Western release) that it is traditional in Japan for girls to give chocolates to boys to profess their love. We see a boy, Mizushima (Takumi Saitô), and a girl, Monami (Yukie Kawamura), in the back of a truck. She has gauze over her eye and is bandaged. They leave the truck and we see three Loli-Goths ahead, their heads swivel all the way round and we see their faces are riveted. Mizushima runs at them but is tossed aside.

peeling the fleshMonami gets hold of one on them and, with fangs bared, she bites into the constructed girl’s face and rips at skin and flesh, peeling it away to reveal the skull. The gory fight with the three underlines much of what we are to get in the film. The blood has healed Monami and she rips the bandages and gauze away. She is able to make long blades from her own blood and the final Loli is killed by ramming one of these up her skirt and forcing the skull from the adversaries head.

Takumi Saitô as MizushimaCutting back to valentine day we see that the teacher, Uchiyama, went round the class confiscating chocolate from the girls. Keiko (Eri Otoguro) – head of the Loli-Goths – is less than impressed that the chocolates she was going to give to Mizushima had been taken. (We see a flashback that shows her informing Mizushima that they are going steady – whether he likes it or not). The resultant tantrum has her father, the vice-principle Furano, rushing to his daughter – though he fails to intervene.

the ganguro girlsThe film parodies some of the subcultures prevalent amongst Japanese youths. It is within this some of the more controversial aspects of the film appear. As well as the Loli-Goths we also get a parody of the Ganguro subculture. Ganguro means black faced girls and is commonly typified by a deep tan and bleached hair. In this case it is taken to an extreme where the girls are clearly trying to imitate black people in a generally stereotyped manner. We also get a focus on a group of wrist cutting girls who are entering the national wrist cutting competitions. There is a reason within the film to concentrate on these groups.

eating the valentine chocolateAnyway Monami intercepts Mizushima and gives him her chocolate; the only one not confiscated. He considers the girl who wears a cape, which she explains is a keepsake from her mother, and is often not in class, with the excuse that the weather is too nice and the sun too bright. When he bites into the chocolate the centre is made of blood. We get a rather nice sequence of him turning and seeing people as no more than a mass of veins and arteries.

Midori, the over-sexed school nurseMizushima has been absent from school for three days and ends up, on his return, in the nurse's office. The nurse, Midori, is described by him as over-sexed. He goes to a bed and discovers that Monami is in the bed next to him. She explains that she is a vampire and he is a half vampire, he must drink more of her blood to fully turn. She fangs her own lip and goes to kiss him with a drop of blood on it when Keiko bursts in and tries to slap Monami – the blood falls to the floor.

Mad Scientist at workAnyway, it turns out that Vice-principle Furano is also a kabuki wearing mad scientist trying to be the new Doctor Frankenstein, helped by the psychotic Midori. This is a nice turn around as the new hunchbacked janitor called Igor is actually Monami’s slave. Furano is failing to create new life until he discovers the drop of Monami’s blood and is able to infuse screws with it, which he uses to rivet body parts together.

Keiko go splatWhen Keiko discovers Monami and Mizushima kissing on the school roof, and sealing his vampiric fate, she accidentally falls to her death and her father is able to bring her back – giving her the athletic legs of the ganguro leader, the near impenetrable wrists of the wrist cutting leader and the pollution strengthened lungs of a Chinese professor (Takashi Shimizu). The reborn Frankenstein girl is determined to destroy the vampire and get Mizushima.

blood drenchedThe film is great fun. Lore wise things are random, put in as pleases the film visually or storywise. For instance, in a flashback we see Monami’s mother (Eihi Shiina) fighting a Sumo from Hell, which is being controlled by a vampire hunter, and producing blood weapons. Yet she has given her cloak to Monami and Monami seems to lose her powers if she loses the cloak. A stake through the heart causes a vampire to burn up. There is some lore around Igor that I won’t spoil.

a terrifying mawWe also see her attack a lecherous man and her mouth splits open into a terrifying maw. This scene is absolutely blood soaked with sprays of blood everywhere and, whilst some jets come from odd directions (given it should all be from one man’s artery) it doesn’t matter. Stylistically it is wonderful.

Eri Otoguro as the Frankenstein girlThis underlines why the film is so good. It is blood-soaked, un-PC and downright silly in places but it doesn’t matter. It does what it sets out to do and has some surprising moments, like some beautifully chosen filters to complement the cinematography. Over all, however, this isn’t about art, or good cinema, this is truly in the style of the great B movie and delivers what it is meant to.

Yukie Kawamura as the Vampire girlSo, relax, pop the DVD in and open up a can of your favourite frothy beverage – either on your own or with like minded friends – settle down and prepare to laugh, wince and cheer. The ride is painted crimson but it is a fun ride nonetheless. 7.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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