It's the film to watch when everything else seems too classy... and I do mean everything. I think this is a new low, even for me. Welcome to the Killer Vagina genre.
You may be wondering how I came to watch this. Actually I bet you aren't, but I'll tell you anyway. I'd bought the new Frank Henenlotter film, Bad Biology
, so I became curious about why recently there seemed to have been a rash of films about lethal vaginas. There's Teeth
(2007), Bad Biology
(2008) and arguably also Jennifer's Body
(2009), which may not be focused on the female nether regions but still sounds to me like an attempted mainstream remake of the other two. How did this become a genre? Are these people freaks?
Answer: yes. Ergo since we're looking for freaks, obviously I turned to Japan and sure enough, there I found them. The originator of all this appears to be an ero-guro ("erotic gore") called Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy (2004). That's the earliest example that I've been able to find, anyway. The timing's certainly right. Japan gives the world this exciting new development in cinema, whereupon Hollywood gazes in stunned awe for a few years and then starts churning out the cash-ins. The only tragedy is that we weren't seeing cinema billboards proudly proclaiming this as the latest J-horror remake of Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy. Oh, and in case you're thinking that a piece of trash like this is too obscure even for Hollywood sleaze-meisters to have heard about, I'd point out that it got mentioned in a 2007 episode of Jonathan Ross's Japanorama documentaries.
That's enough preamble, though. What about the film itself? Obviously it's cheap trash, but I think we've learned enough to know that that's is a broad landscape. More specifically, it's cheesy, ridiculous, pornographic and super-gory. Imagine a Japanese Troma film and you won't be far off, except that in certain respects Troma have higher standards than this. (I can't believe I just wrote that sentence.)
Let's start with the pornography, if only on general principle. Superficially this might seem to be indistinguishable from a 1980s slasher movie. You've got a group of teens going off into the woods together to have sex and get killed off one by one by a hideous monster. The difference though is that sometimes this stops even pretending to be a real movie. There are sex scenes here that have been shot and edited exactly like pornography, except that they've been spliced into what's otherwise a cheesy but super-gory splatterfest. The script presumably said "porn scene for five minutes". The plot stops and the (already minimal) clothes come off... except that as you've already guessed, the scene won't necessarily have a conventional climax. Incidentally, like the 2007 Kekko Kamen movies, this is one of those Japanese straight-to-video flicks that's casting hardcore porn stars in the lead roles. Google the names of a few of these actresses and you'll find their AVs (Adult Videos).
Judged on this level, it's quite good. Every girl in the film has big breasts and gets naked. (I wrote this in my notes after only fifteen minutes and was not proved wrong.) Jiggly Pink Bikini Girl initially struck me as being annoying and very possibly retarded, but on the other hand there's another girl with astonishing breasts who spends most of the film in a thin, tight top and no bra. I have now discussed everything of significance about the acting in this movie.
There's also a fellatio scene where I wasn't entirely sure that the actors involved weren't doing it for real, despite the fact that there's a big bottle hiding them from the camera. Even regular Japanese porn tends to hide the performers' groins with digital mosaics, after all.
Moving swiftly on, we now have the "guro" half of the "ero-guro" classification. (Yes, ero-guro is a genre in Japan.) Obviously it's stupid and ludicrous, but what's mildly interesting is that they're aware of this and even playing up to it. The special effects on their Devil Fish would fit right into those Troma films we were talking about, or perhaps an early Peter Jackson. There's an early shot in which the characters hold up their mobile phones in unison as if they're in an advert or something. Walking through the woods, they find a building with a sign saying "DANGEROUS SO KEEP OUT" in Japanese, so go inside and take most of their clothes off. (Pink Bikini Girl doesn't even wrap up again when shivering with cold and walking down to the cryogenics section and its frozen killer naked woman. You know, as you do.) It would be missing the point here to complain about the stupidity of the plot, since the film is blatantly going out of its way to be as goofy as possible. Note the comedy music that's been added to what would otherwise have been a genuine jump scare when Mega-Boobs Girl gets grabbed, or the shot where a Killer Vagina burps and spits out its previous victim's glasses.
This is not a film that's taking itself seriously in the slightest. Surprisingly this makes it really watchable, despite the fact that pornography is boring. Of course it helps that it's only an hour long, but even so when it's being a gore comedy it's almost brilliant. The Killer Fish is hysterical, as are the scenes where it attacks its victims, since to my surprise they don't necessarily jump straight into the wild flailing and screaming. One man for instance merely starts complaining a bit as blood streams from his groin. There's some mad gore here, e.g. an eyeball on a spike, but it's so cartoonish that I can't imagine any reaction from an audience except laughing like lunatics. There's the odd exception, mind you. Even I cringed at a chunk getting bitten out of a girl's naked breast.
This is a really entertaining film, oddly enough, although sometimes its badness is merely bad. They don't know how to shoot dark scenes, for instance. All you know is that they've turned the lights off. However that doesn't change the fact that the film as a whole is joyfully taking the piss out of the fact that it's dumb trash. The pre-credits sequence in the (ahem) Amazon, for instance, begins with some CGI things flying off a bush in such a cheap-looking fashion that you know where you stand even before the arrival of the hilariously silly witch doctor (played by the assistant director). Our heroes have a Devil Fish in a polystyrene case, which after you've seen the rest of the movie will pose some serious questions about how they got it in there without realising how lethal it is. Shortly afterwards two girls take a leak in the woods without pulling down their underwear. From a certain kind of Japanese film this would have been deliberate, but here it's just another example of the director's relaxed approach to visual storytelling. The groinal slime/foam trail is weird, though.
There's an odd one out in the cast: Yumi Yoshiyuki, the first victim. Her debut in Pink films was nearly twenty years ago and these days she's doing lots of proper film and TV work, both as an actress and as a director. She even won a Best Supporting Actress award at the Yokohama Film Festival in 1999, but it isn't her thespian talents they're interested in here. Overall, this film is pretty much the purest form of exploitation. It's going considerably further than you might have expected, even if you'd known in advance about its high concept. However it's also fast-paced and very funny, even if at least one of the porn scenes soon gets dull. You've got to love the way they're so shamelessly going for the cliches, so Mega-Boobs Girl gets a Sigourney Weaver arming-up scene, but doesn't bother getting dressed first. The finale is the gore equivalent of female mud-wrestling and the very last scene has a girl walking down the road in such a low-cut top that it's more of a topless. The end credits are fun too. I don't believe an English-language version has ever been made available, but when you're watching a film called Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy, that's not really a problem.