Although we reviewed the crazy horror comedy Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl when it screened at last summer’s New York Asian Film Festival, we’re re-presenting it as the film will be screening tomorrow at the New York Comic Con.
If you felt that director Sam Raimi was too restrained with the gallons of fake blood he splashed through his classic horror comedy Evil Dead 2, you may find Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl to be more to your liking. As goofy as its camp title suggests, directors Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s film is a manic and blood-drenched satire on school-girl crushes and high school cliques. But within the over-the-top excess, they still manage to surprise with a couple of well executed scares and a couple of moments that make you cringe. Sure it’s low budget, but that doesn’t mean it cheaps out on fun.
Mizushima is just an average student at Tokyo High, who catches the eye of new girl Monami. This does not go over well with Mizushima’s somewhat pushy girlfriend Keiko, who really sees red when Monami gives Mizushima a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Mizushima also sees red, but it’s because the chocolates are filled with blood. Specifically, Monami’s blood. And since she is a vampire, Mizushima starts to fall under her thrall after eating one of the chocolates. Keiko isn’t going to take this lying down and turns to her mad-scientist father for help, who promptly turns her into a fighting machine to get her boyfriend back using the body parts of various classmates. Keiko and Monami clash in a battle for the ages that ranges from the school gym to the sides of Tokyo Tower.
Think of this as Twilight filtered through a crazed, splatter punk filter without all the moping.
A majority of the film’s effect work may not be completely convincing, but that really isn’t the point here. The over-the-topness is what it is all about, laughter evoked from the audacity of it all. This is definitely the type of film you want to watch with a group of friends, possibly with a few choice liquid stimulants to help lubricate the experience.
A note about Ganguro Girls – When the Japanese embrace an aspect of pop culture, they do so with an almost aggressive whole-heartedness that can appear obsessive to westerners, and Gangura Girls are an example of this. Fans of US hip-hop, they not only dress like the rap artists they see in music videos, they actually apply makeup to darken their skin. Nishimura and Tomomatsu satirize this trend by exaggerating these girls’ mimicry to include lip implants and ear jewelry. To US viewers, though, it makes decoding these characters a little tougher. Anyone familiar with the racial implications of blackface entertainers from the days of vaudeville would be tempted to read this as Nishimura and Tomomatsu commenting that Gangura Girls are actually cluelessly racist for showing their love for hip-hop in this manner. But I don’t think so. I think Nishimura and Tomomatsu are just mocking them by taking their actions to an exaggerated extreme. Given the comedy through extremism that is pervasive throughout the film, I don’t think that the directors have any deeper intention beyond pointing a finger and laughing at something they regard as silly.