zombiesLemon HanazawaYuya MatsuuraEiichi Kikuchi
Rika the Zombie Killer
Also known as: Zombie Hunter Rika
Medium: film
Year: 2008
Director: Ken'ichi Fujiwara
Writer: Ken'ichi Fujiwara, Takeyuki Morikaku
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Keywords: zombies
Actor: Mina Arai, Lemon Hanazawa, Kotoha Hiroyama, Chris Ryo Kaihara, Kotaro Kamijo, Ryunosuke Kawai, Eiichi Kikuchi, Lisa Kudo, Kesuke, Yuya Matsuura, Mai Minami, Akina Serizawa, Takeshi Yamamoto
Format: 87 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1185390/
Website category: Japanese
Review date: 26 March 2019
It's a silly, low-budget zombie flick with absurd plot points and enthusiastic gore. However it's also pretty cool. It's a horror-comedy that's actually funny (although don't hold your breath for horror), with lively characters and some good jokes.
It takes the film ninety seconds to give us a flesh-eating zombie. No suspense, no tension. We just go outside and there it is, plonked in front of the camera as if zombies don't need a dramatic reveal at all. The burp was amusing, though.
Our attention then switches to two schoolgirls, Rika and Nami. They're cutting school and going off into the countryside to see Rika's grandfather, who's a genius surgeon and all-round cool dude. Rika thinks he's great. On arriving, though... ZOMBIES! Again, the film just hits us with them. This improves the pace, if nothing else. Rika insists on going off to save grandad, only to discover on arriving that he's gone catatonic and has a hot young wife called Shiratori. (The latter is uncertain, though. We've got to take Shiratori's word for them actually being married and she's as trustworthy as a cat watching the canaries.)
I'm going to have to stop talking about the plot, because it's got quite a few fun developments that I wouldn't want to spoil. I was genuinely surprised, more than once. This isn't just an exercise in killing cast members in a predictable order. It's got a cool grandad, the wrong people getting chomped, a magic sword, unexpected solutions to problems and a friendly zombie who completely changes the tone of the film.
You can't take the ending seriously, though. Trying to do so will hurt your brain and make you annoyed with the film. We also have a boss zombie who'll destroy all the other zombies if you defeat him (maybe), undead with comic timing and some illogical assumptions about US missile launches. Oh, and the rubber effects on Rika's sword arm are often terrible. (It folds at the elbow.)
The characters are what make the film so entertaining, though. Takashi's the most important. He's charming, he's funny and he yanks the film in directions you're just not expecting in a cheap zombie flick like this. The way he talks to other zombies is particularly cool. "Sorry about that. They're all idiots." The title character's fine, but I really liked the actress playing her friend. (I don't know that actress's name, by the way. This isn't the kind of film that has a whole lot of information on the internet.) She has a quirky face and lots of life in her expressions and line deliveries. Of the rest of the cast, there's a comedy Self-Defence Trio and a good/evil boundary that's... ah, permeable. The Comedy Trio should probably have been painful, but in fact they're genuinely funny and I was always pleased to see them. They have a slight idiot, a shouty leader and some rubbish weapons.
Do we see tits? It's a cheap-ass zombie film, so what's the exploitation level? Answer: not as much as you'd expect. There's a brief period about a third of the way through when Shiratori decides to have sex (not seen) and then run around topless while her three maids compare their cup sizes. That's all, though. It's almost as if the filmmakers went "whoops, we need some sleaze!" and shot a bit of inappropriate material one afternoon, but basically weren't too interested in all that.
This definitely isn't a horror film, but it's enjoying its gore and it has a couple of squirm moments. Shiratori's death is, ah, richly earned but still not nice. There are also eyeball gags. This is a far better, funnier and more interesting film than you'd expect from its title. It's daft, but the characters work and it even has a couple of comparatively heartfelt moments.
I'm tempted to go looking for this director's other films. What else has he done? Female Prisoner No. 701: Sasori, The Sultry Assassin: The Aphrodisiac Kill...