Archive for japanese

Dead Air Ep 21 – Helldriver

Posted in Dead Air Podcast, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2015 by splatterpictures

Wes and Lydia take a drive all the way to hell and take a look at Sushi Typhoons blood soaked zombie sci-fi extravaganza

Tokyo Zombie

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by splatterpictures

Sometimes when I grab something off the DVD shelf I never know what I’m going get. I had a feeling about Tokyo Zombie: A movie with Jiu-Jitsu, zombies and comedy? Sold!

While I’m the first to admit that with all of the over-saturation of the zombie genre in the last few years I tend to roll my eyes at every new title announced I do find it fun that some things get region one releases where they might never have if zombies weren’t hot right now.

Tokyo Zombie was released in 2005 in Japan, and was given a region one DVD release in 2009. It’s based off the popular 1999 Manga written by Yusaku Hanakuma. The films directing duties were handed to Sakichi Sato and it stars Tadanobu Asano and Show Aikawa.

The year is unknown, I guess modern times but in this version of Japan there is a massive garbage dump at the epicentre of Tokyo. It’s full of toxic waste, garbage and the discarded bodies of the dead. The people call it “Black Fuji” because of the black ash that surrounds the mountain. Death and murder are treated pretty differently. If you kill somebody you just dump the body and forget about it. It makes for a few hilarious situations.

The main characters are Fukio and Mitsuo, (Asano and Aikawa respectively) they are you typical idiot and straight man buddy picture duo. The fun thing is how the pair are obsessed with becoming Jiu-Jitsu champions. They train all day instead of focusing on their jobs at a fire extinguisher factory (where they seem to be the only ones who work there). Their boss shows up and after a brief argument they accidentally kill him. So off to Black Fuji they go to get rid of his body.

This is about where the zombies start popping up and then it’s their fight for survival as they make their way to Russia where apparently the manliest men live and they can perfect their fighting styles.

The films take an interesting turn about midway through and does a time skip. I’m certain that’s just how the Manga ended up but as a movie it’s pretty weird. A lot of zombie movies take place either at the initial outbreak or well after the fact in sort of a post apocalyptic scenario where humans are barely surviving. A good example of the two extremes would be if Night of the Living Dead and then Land of The Dead were one movie.

When it gets into this portion the whole buddy comedy thing is over and now it’s just Fujio fighting in arena style matches against the undead. There is a hilarious twist towards the end of the movie though that I thought was fantastic. I usually don’t like it when movies switch gears like this so dramatically but in this case I felt it worked.

The jokes are mostly physical comedy which is good. A lot of times when you’re watching a movie from Japan the jokes can be lost in translation but I found myself laughing out loud at more than a few scenes.

I wouldn’t say it’s very gory so people looking for that type thing will be disappointed. It’s also plagued by some pretty bad CGI but I think in this case they knew it looked ridiculous and in a lot of ways it serves to enhance the comedy. Check it out!


Helldriver (I dig it I dig it!)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2012 by splatterpictures

To think back on my life before Helldriver I have some hard realizations to come to terms with. For example, before Helldriver I’d never seen a woman use a zombie’s spine like a stripper poll.  I’d also never seen a car made entirely of zombies, be driven by another zombie but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Helldriver was released by the good folks at Sushi Typhoon and was directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura. Nishimura, of course a longstanding figure in Japanese splatter flicks having worked on The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police to name a few.

The movie probably has one of the longest pre-titles I’ve ever seen. It felt like I was already twenty minutes into the thing before the title flashed across the screen but it does give the skinny on the plot.

Six million citizens in Japan have become infected with a mysterious alien ash. This ash causes them to look and behave much like zombies, except for some volatile tumour on their heads. In an attempt to save as many people as they can the Japanese government builds a wall separating the north and south of Japan. There are a great many normal citizens (including the Prime Minister) who believes that these zombies shouldn’t be killed but rather cured.

Kiko (Yumiko Hara) is a young girl who comes from a tragic family. Her mother and uncle are a pair of cannibalistic psychopaths while her father was unfortunately disabled and unable to protect her from them. During a bizarre altercation Kiko’s mother rips out her daughter’s heart after a small meteor blows through her body. Her mother becomes the “Zombie Queen” and Kiko gets picked up by authorities and has an outboard motor installed in her chest that activates a chainsaw sword when she pulls the rip-cord.  (yeah I’m not kidding)

She and a small group of others travel deep into the zombie’s territory to attempt to kill the queen and end the nightmare. Along the way they are barraged by hundreds of flying heads, a pregnant zombie that uses her zombie baby attached to an umbilical cord like some kind of medieval flail. The stuff they come up with is just a mind boggling.

Helldriver thankfully feels closer to Tokyo Gore Police than anything else and that’s a good thing. It does have the typical “Sushi Typhoon standbys” Lots of awkward dance scenes with some dodgy CGI and long close-ups of people jamming disgusting things in their mouths which at this point seems like they do it just because they feel they have to. Strangely all of my complaints about the film were before the main story kicks off. When it gets into the meat of the action the film really starts to work.

Special effects are what these movies are really all about and I can tell they really kicked it up a notch especially with the whole look of The Zombie Queen. Throughout the movie there are a lot of really nice looking effects but only when they stick to the practical stuff.  Nishimura has this obsession with wriggling tendons and merging body parts together so his monsters always resemble some horrific modern art piece.

The CGI is -and probably always will be -the biggest weakness for this production company. It has a lot to do with their limited budget and the fact that they keep coming up with crazier and crazier things. Helldriver is no exception, the CGI looks incredibly synthetic and I’ve always found that to be a personal pet peeve of mine in any movie.

To be honest I’ve not enjoyed a lot of the stuff that’s come out of Sushi Typhoon lately. The stuff they’ve released was alright but there was something about their earlier films that I just liked more. I was generally disappointed with films like Robo-Geisha. Mutant Girl Squad and Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl. They were too silly and chaotic and I couldn’t really say they were worth the price of the DVD but I feel this is probably the best they’ve released in awhile and I did actually find myself really enjoying it by the end. If you get a chance I’d say check it out. It’s a non-stop gore fueled comedy that just begs to be watched with a group of people.

This is a horde of zombies in the shape of a plane holding two rockets.


Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by splatterpictures

Well no sense in straying too far from the mark; we’re going to tackle another Tokyo Shock production. This time we’re looking at the very first Shock picture I ever saw, and boy was I spoiled. I used to check out this site, Veoh, and one day I happened upon a little Thumbnail that said “Versus,” and I had no idea what was in store for me.

A lot of both action and horror movies come out of Japan, and Versus is really one of those special combinations that shouldn’t be passed up.

The film was released in 2000 and was directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Originally Kitamura intended to do a sequel to his film, Down to Hell, but somewhere down the line there was a disagreement regarding whether or not a Japanese action film could compare with an American one. The result was that Kitamura found a lot of inspiration from classic 80’s genre films such as Mad Max and Evil Dead. He felt traditional special effects were missing from modern action/horror and felt that traditional effects could bring impact and power to the screen without being overly expensive to produce. He also felt that filming with one or two cameras would make things a lot cheaper and allow more continuous shots with less cuts (in the style of older Asian cinema).

One thing that I found strange was that he claimed not to like a lot of Japanese animation or things of the sort. I find this odd because when I first saw it, I honestly felt like I was watching a live action anime or videogame.

Kitamura also has a reputation for disliking the film industry. He chose his cast based on their looks or if he had worked with them before rather than their skill. He works with story boards but never follows them completely and, furthermore, he’ll completely change an actor’s role in the film if he likes them and they are doing a good job.

He said he wanted to make a movie that was really simple, which might be why none of the characters really have names. There is not a lot of character detail or full explanations about why certain characters are even there. He felt that action and horror films from the 80’s had it right, that they were there to entertain and not try to be something they aren’t.

Okay, so the idea behind that film is that there is a forest known as the forest of resurrection. It’s essentially a gateway from this world and the “other world,” so I would assume they mean the afterlife. It starts off with two prisoners escaping into the woods to meet up with a bunch of gangsters. Things get tense quickly and people start dying, and then coming back to life. It seems that because they are in the forest of resurrection at this specific time, the dead will rise. The gangsters also have a girl in their possession for no reason other than their “boss” desired it. Prisoner KSC2-303 (Tak Sakaguchi) takes off with the girl after his partner is killed and they head into the woods… time to let the no-holds-barred action begin!

They fight off seemingly endless zombies with amazing gunplay and martial arts. All the gangsters are pretty badass because you think that the zombies would pose a challenge, but they just destroy them. My personal favourite is the Yakuza Leader (Kenji Matsuda) because he is just completely insane. His movements are wild and crazy but somehow get the job done.

The way he delivers his lines are great, too. Matsuda said that he wasn’t much of an action star, so he relied more on his acting to make it good. Two other great characters are the cops chasing them. They really have no roles other than comic relief and it’s great. The one cop with the Barrett just randomly spouts off lines about how he’s the best at everything such as being the ultimate martial artist (which leads to a hilarious scene). The other cop has his hand cut off at the start of the film and just walks around like he doesn’t even care!

The film takes an even more bizarre turn when the boss finally shows up. Everything starts to fall into place and we soon realize that it’s a film that is really about reincarnation. Also, just when you thought zombies were bad, they now have “Hyper-Zombies”. What are hyper-zombies? Well hyper zombies are like regular zombies but they know kung-fu. Honestly, you have to see this to believe it. This movie also has a great twist ending that I won’t spoil.

The special effects really shine in this one. These guys really seem to rip the undead apart with flashy sword and gun play and, I know I’ve said this before, but everyone could learn from this film. Traditional special effects are always going to just look great if done right and you don’t always need to do everything on a computer.

The actors and crew on this film had a lot of passion for their work and it shows in the film. They even all got together four years after the film was completed to film new scenes and expand upon others that they couldn’t because of cost or time.

Tak Sakaguchi did all of his own stunts and he ended up breaking three ribs and losing a tooth in the process. Another amusing note is that a lot of the actors pulled double or even triple duty cooking meals or doing behind the scenes work. It really goes to show that, although unconventional, Kitamura has some method to his madness. I highly recommend you all check this one out.