Yuko KitamuraMinami KuriharaYuka NakamoriDaikichi Sugawara
High School Ghosthustlers
Medium: film
Year: 1995
Writer/director: Yoshinari Nishikori
Keywords: low-budget, rubbish, reality with a dark twist
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Mitsuko Abe, Go Awazu, Shigeru Iida, Hinako Ishida, Toshiaki Kamiaka, Yuko Kitamura, Minami Kurihara, Senna Matsuda, Kotobuki Murakami, Yuka Nakamori, Yoshiharu Ono, Daikichi Sugawara, Tetsuya Tsukada, Hiromasa Yonohara, Mayo Yuki
Format: 74 minutes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0406837/
Website category: Japanese SF
Review date: 13 October 2010
Almost worthless. The stupid monster effects are vaguely diverting, there's a bit of nudity and I liked the childhood flashback scene with a granny. That's all the praise I can find, I'm afraid.
To be fair, I knew this would be trash. It's a straight-to-video film called High School Ghosthustlers, starring Japanese gravure (i.e. bikini) idols. The only question was whether it would be good trash. The answer is no. It's less entertaining than anything starring Kekko Kamen, to give you an idea of how low a bar I'm setting here. Its protagonists are vapid and irritating, its plot is too trivial even to be worth laughing at and even its sleaze is half-hearted. It's 74 minutes of nothing. There's nothing here that other films haven't done a hundred times worse, better, classier, sleazier or anything else, frankly.
We'll start with the girls. That's the main selling point, right? The audience wants to look at pretty girls, preferably topless. Unfortunately the film's not worth watching even on this Neanderthal level, since there's only one attractive girl in the lead trio and in any case they all stay clothed. They're Senna Matsuda, Yuko Kitamura and Yuka Nakamori, by the way. Matsuda's the pretty one. Meanwhile the script keeps telling us that a teacher (Minami Kurihara) is beautiful, but in fact she's nothing of the sort and was clearly cast because she was (a) cheap, and (b) willing to go topless while wearing monster make-up. Obviously I'm not about to complain about the fact that do we see a few breasts, but I will point out that the ones we do see aren't anything to write home about.
Furthermore watching these girls also requires listening to them. Ouch. At one point I swear they hurt my ears. (I watch my movies with headphones at 5am, which makes me unusually vulnerable to a voice like a needle through your eardrums.) You'd swear they were anime characters. Yes, I'm aware that real Japanese schoolgirls will often also talk in those stupid voices, but in real life it's just as annoying.
As for the acting, it's negligible. I won't go so far as to say that our heroines seemed embarrassed to be there, but I can't say I noticed anyone committing to their roles either. Say your lines, do the next scene. Note for instance the way that screaming girls don't actually scream, but instead say the word "kyaaaaaaaa" because that's what's in the script. Note also the limpness of almost any actress who's supposedly being possessed by a sex spirit, or those two young toughs. The best thing I can find to say is the way in which the protagonists are reasonably convincing together as a trio of airheaded friends, while Daikichi Sugawara isn't incompetent as their school club's patron teacher. This was his first film and he'd go on in later years to have an acting career. None of our three heroines became actresses, of course.
The story is even weaker than you're imagining. There's a wave of suicides at the girls' school, so Sugawara goes straight to... the Supernatural Phenomenon Research school club. You know, as you do. They resolve this in ten minutes by doing nothing. Sugawara gets them another case and that's resolved in the same way. (My definition of "nothing" isn't strictly accurate, but it's as near to "nothing" as makes no difference. If that's all that's required to be a ghostbuster, I'm going to whistle up my mum's knitting circle.) They do this while delivering dialogue that appears to have been written by a twelve-year-old. Later there's an attack of sex spirits and women become nymphomaniacs, which our heroines eventually resolve by dressing up in the costumes they're wearing on the video sleeve. A monster appears for the finale and they defeat that too, again with no noticeable effort, but in doing so one of them has flashbacks to her dead granny. That's the good bit, although only comparatively speaking.
The special effects are proud to be cheesy, which is the best thing about the film. There are phallic poo monsters which every so often keep mutating into something even more phallic, until by the end you're rolling your eyes. Note also that they defeat the monster at the end with dildos. It's stupid, but unlike the rest of the film it's at least a diverting kind of stupid.
I'm afraid I couldn't enjoy this film. I like good trash, but I wouldn't even give this that much praise. However the ghastly possibility exists that this is one of the better examples of its genre, because it's a 1995 straight-to-video film that's still knocking around on the English-speaking internet fifteen years later. It's true that it's never worse than mediocre, avoiding the true eye-popping depths of badness that can be found easily if you go around watching things like this, but I'd have almost preferred that. It's also not dull. It has energy and goofy special effects. However it also has no conviction in the production and no emotional or dramatic content in its story. It's just a bunch of vaguely supernatural things happening in some kind of order, involving young girls and occasionally some fleeting breasts. Even if you're just looking for wank material, this movie is lame.
It doesn't even have any jokes! If you must do a sexed-up Ghostbusters rip-off with Japanese schoolgirls, at least make it funny. You could milk all kinds of gags from this material. This film doesn't bother, of course.