Shungiku UchidaYukihide BennyEihi ShiinaJiji Bu
Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl
Medium: film
Year: 2009
Writer: Shungiku Uchida, Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura, Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Keywords: horror, vampires, Frankenstein, favourite
Actor: Yukie Kawamura, Takumi Saito, Eri Otoguro, Sayaka Kametani, Jiji Bu, Eihi Shiina, Kanji Tsuda, Yukihide Benny, Terri Doty, Erina, Cay Izumi, Maki Mizui, Honoka Nagai, Aya Nishisaki, Sayo
Format: 84 minutes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1425928/
Website category: J-horror
Review date: 23 October 2012
It's Japanese of course and kind of brilliant, in its joyfully trashy way. Firstly, its directors.
1. Yoshihiro Nishimura is a special effects gore-meister (Suicide Club, The Machine Girl, Horny House of Horror) who sometimes also directs (Tokyo Gore Police, Mutant Girls Squad, Helldriver).
2. Naoyuki Tomomatsu makes horror and/or pink films, sometimes with worrying titles. He directed the excellent Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies, but also other films I haven't seen like Erotibot (the title's probably less dubious than the movie), Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead (not sure I want to know) and Female Prisoner Ayaka: Tormenting and Breaking in a Bitch (um, er, won a Pink Grand Prix award).
So that's its pedigree. However here they were thinking of the international market, so it's all about comedy gore, not sleaze. There's no nudity. Lots of girls, yes, but they're hacking each other up with machetes instead of taking their clothes off. Eri Otoguro has nice cleavage, but only on the movie poster, while Sexy Nurse (Sayaka Kametani) I didn't even find that attractive. Shocking, I call it. These Troma-esque Japanese gore comedies tend to be a bit boring, but adding insane levels of nudity (e.g. Sukeban Boy) can boost them up into the funniest films I've ever seen. Fortunately though, this film manages to overcome the handicap of its decency. It's excellent. I laughed my head off.
So what's the story? Takumi Saito (Space Battleship Yamato, RoboGeisha, Thirteen Assassins) is a boy more beautiful than any of the girls in his class, not to mention more normal. His school is full of girl gangs, all of whom have exactly four members. There's the Lolita Goth gang, led by Eri Otoguro, whose father is a teacher at the school and in his spare time dresses up a kabuki Frankenstein and experiments on the dead. There are the Ganguro girls, who go from "ganguro normal" (i.e. merely a freak) to insane racist-looking extremes that had me in appalled spasms of laughter. There's a normal-looking girl (Yukie Kawamura), who seems sweet, gives Saito a Valentine's chocolate and drinks human blood.
Oh, and the Wrist-Slitting Club. Did I mention them? Whatever you're imagining, you're not even getting close.
The best thing about all these, though, is that they're REAL. This isn't gibberish. It's parody, taking potshots at Japanese culture. Google "ganguro" or "Lolita fashion" if you don't believe me. Similarly the Wrist-Slitting Club comes from Japan's suicide levels and its schoolchildren's tendencies to top themselves, although it's, um, not doing so with delicacy.
Despite appearances, there's a plot. Kawamura and Otoguro both fancy Saito. Kawamura is a vampire with an enslaved hunchback called Igor and she'll happily bite off your head and dance in the gushing fountain of gore. Compared with Otoguro, she's the nice one. The first hour or so is essentially build-up, as we see these COMPLETE AND UTTER FREAKS in this film's idea of Japanese school life. Saito gets close to Kawamura in a bad way. We see centuries-old vampire backstory. Emnities build up until bad things happen and, yup, it's Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. I'd been expecting this to be a bit dull, but to my surprise it's great. It's a fair fight. Kawamura has undead superpowers and can bite the flesh off your face until you've been reduced to a skull with eyeballs, but just wait until you see what Frankenstein Girl can do with power tools. I was in awe.
I love the film's energy. I've compared it with Troma, which I think is fair. Its production values are better, but both are all about going for the wildest extremes of taste. When Troma's on form, they can achieve a kind of genius... and I think this film touches that level. Gyaaah, the wrist-slitting rally! This makes the film much more energetic and inventive than pretty much anything you'll have seen this year, albeit in the worst possible taste. I particularly liked what it's doing with two of the most over-familiar cliches in horror:
VAMPIRES. In this film, a vampire can use blood like Magneto uses metal. She has a hunchback called Igor, although I think it's Frankenstein who traditionally has one of those. She has a great mouth. (You'll see what I mean.) She has sentient blood that if spilled, can dodge mops. She's got all the vampire superpowers and a few more to boot, not to mention having all the disturbing implications that come from being centuries old, but at the same time she talks like an empty-headed schoolgirl. She's trying to be cute. If you were in a bad mood, you'd call her a bimbo. It's rather wonderful hearing Kawamura deliver Hammer horror dialogue in a tone that's deliberately undercutting it.
FRANKENSTEIN. Kabuki, Sexy Nurse, LoliGoth and Transformers. I don't believe that combination's been done before.
Even the music is brilliant. It's a massive part of the movie, with possible Rocky Horror influences and a nod to Little Shop of Horrors in the da-doo at the 55 minute mark. There's wildly silly rock music, but my favourite was the "I fall in love" vampire theme. It's hysterical. That song alone got me laughing. Imagine insane excesses of gore and horror, scored to a bouncy love anthem that's kind of 1950s.
It's based on a manga, by the way.
Occasionally it pushed the taste envelope a bit far even for me. The ganguro would look insanely racist if you weren't aware of that particularly Japanese subculture, while I'm tempted to say that the movie itself becomes racist when it introduces that Chinese teacher. It's only a cameo, but even so. Well, I suppose it fits the Troma spirit. Furthermore: wrist-slitting. I think I love this film. I think it's genuinely clever in some of its ideas, which include things I'd never seen before. Vamp-o-vision seeing us as walking circulatory systems, for instance. It's hysterically, appallingly funny. Realistic, no. Beyond ludicrous, yes. I was impressed.
"Dicing one's daughter is true happiness!"