Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Wild and wacky Japanese cinema gets a bit wilder, perhaps, with Helldriver, which is part serial killer, part alien menace, part zombie movie. Weighing in at a hefty 2 hours, this one can be a bit hard to follow. This is likely due to a great deal of extra footage which appears to have been added to the beginning (the openning credits appear 48 minutes into the film).
Much of the cast will be known to Tokyo Shock/Pinky Violence fans. We have Yumiko Hara (Sibuya Maruyama Story), the delightfully creepy Eihi Shiina (Audition, Tokyo Gore Police), and my personal favorite, Asami Sugiura (Yakuza Hunters, Machine Girl, Robo Geisha). Sadly, Asami is barely in the film, but she is typically silent anyway.
The story is a tad convoluted. Kika is a young girl tortured by her Uncle and... Mother, or perhaps her Aunt, Rikka... as is her father. The torturers are also serial killers who hide out in Kika's house. When they decide it is time to eliminate Kika and her father, during the ensuing battle a meteor falls and strikes Rikka and Kika as they fight. The meteor contains a life form that infects its victims, turning them into zombies. The actual alien creature takes over Rikka, and somehow protects Kika... perhaps because Rikka rips out Kika's heart to fill the hole created by the meteor.
So, there is a whole thing about a divided Japan. The North country is walled off and the infected quarantined there. The government is divided over the legal status of the infected; are they dead, are they alive? Also, the infected each grow a horn, which which the destruction of is the only way to "kill" them, but is also a black market item, as it works as a powerful, albeit deadly, illicit drug. Ultimately the shit hits the fan and the zombies/infected begin to run amock. Here the film goes a bit The Dirty Dozen with Kika and her friends branded as criminals, but offered their freedom if they can bring down the zombie queen, Rikka.
It is an oddly fun gross-out film, with a calvalcade of deformed monsters and cartoon fight scenes. The story gets weirder and weirder as it goes, and aside from Kika's desire for revenge on Rikka, it gets terribly hard to follow. Typical of the genre at times. There are some interesting takes on the zombie genre, but is in many ways reminiscient of Tokyo Gore Police in its use of weirdly mutated monsters that are only superficially zombies. It is perhaps a tad more in the vein of The Evil Dead, as these are not Romero zombies by any means, and aside from the "horn destruction to kill" rule do not follow zombie logic any more than would a cannibal film.
So, like most Tokyo Shock/Pinky Violence films, the audience for this one is limited. It is humorous, and exciting, but the genre really needs to be a favorite to get much enjoyment from the movie. I liked it, but I have a highly questionable taste in film.