Archive | Danger After Dark

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Danger After Dark Review: BIG TITS ZOMBIE 3D

Posted on 22 July 2010 by Rich Drees

One of the most popular programming track at the Philadelphia Film Festival has been the genre-specific Danger After Dark. This year, it has been spun-off into its own mini-festival. We’ll be presenting reviews from some its offerings over the next few days.

Some movie titles are allegorical. Some are poetic. And other titles are strictly descriptive. Big Tits Zombie 3D definitely falls into the last category. There is a cadre of pleasingly proportioned heroines. There are hordes of the shambling undead, driven by the taste for human flesh. And portions of the movie require the wearing of cardboard glasses with red and green plastic lenses. No truth in advertising laws broken here.

The plot, such as it is, is one of the standard variants to be found in zombie pictures. A clueless group of people find an old, mystical tome, read aloud from it and inadvertently bring the dead back to life with a cranial culinary craving. In this case, the clueless group is a quintet of strippers working in a club in a rural Japanese town. The mystical tome is discovered when the bored girls stumble across a hidden underground passage that stretches from their dressing room to the basement of a spooky condemned health spa across the street. Of course, the spa has a suitable sinister background – the owner supposedly killed his family and himself when the business went belly up. The owner was something of an occultist too, with a vast collection of rare books, including the dusty leather bound volume – which of course one of the strippers easily identifies – that sets the plot into high gear.

Although the movie gives a few hints that it is about to bound off into some weird spaghetti western inspired territory, it never actually does. Instead, it shows a strong influence from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. It strives for the same blend of comedy and horror and contains several subtle nods to Raimi’s cult classics and a few overt ones, most obvious being the flying eyeball gag lifted wholesale from Evil Dead 2. Director Takao Nakano a does manage some imaginative flourishes of his own, the funniest of which can be summed up in two words – zombie sushi. Another inspired touch is a denizen from Hell turning up with an attitude more fitting of a bored civil servant than demonic envoy.

Those showing up just for the titillation (pun unavoidable) may find themselves disappointed, as there are only two scenes where any of the characters live up to their profession and lose their tops, and both are over rather quickly. Strangely enough, neither of them are when the girls are performing. Gore fans may face similar disappointment as much of the blood spray is rather unconvincingly computer generated. However, there is one scene where the interests of these two groups intersect, with results that should please both. The 3D use in the film is sporadic and seemingly randomly applied. Some action and horror scenes get the 3D treatment while others don’t. Maddeningly, there many scenes presented in 2D that look as if they may have been considered for 3D but didn’t get it for some reason. Unfortunately, Nakano’s only really effectively uses the 3D in a couple of spots.

But critiques against the film don’t matter much. This movie isn’t Citizen Kane. It isn’t even the Citizen Kane of zombie films. What it is, is a fun and goofy way to spend some time, preferably with a group of similarly mind-set friends.

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Danger After Dark: ROBOGEISHA

Posted on 18 July 2010 by Rich Drees

One of the most popular programming track at the Philadelphia Film Festival has been the genre-specific Danger After Dark. This year, it has been spun-off into its own mini-festival. We’ll be presenting reviews from some its offerings over the next few days.

Sisters Yoshie (Kiguchi Aya) and Kikuei (Hasabe Hitomi) are recruited by the handsome Hikaru (Takumi Saito) away from Kikuei’s training as a Geisha to join his ranks of female assassins. Although Kikuei was always the favored of the two growing up, Yoshie is suddenly the one who excels at the training they receive. Jealous at the turn of attention away from her, Kikuei volunteers to have weapons surgically implanted in her body. Not to be outdone, Yoshie also gets a weaponized upgrade and the two are soon set out on mission to assassinate targets selected by Hikaru and his insane father, business tycoon Kageno Taro (Shigaki Taro). But then Yoshie has an encounter that makes her question Hikaru and Taro’s plans and brings her into direct combat with her sister.

RoboGeisha is another entry in that off beat Japanese mashup of action, horror and comedy films and it shares some creative DNA with some of the best the genre has to offer. Director Noboru Iguchi has The Machine Girl, probably one of the best of the lot, on his resume, while special effects director Yoshihiro Nishimura served the same function on Tokyo Gore Police. Unfortunately, while diverting, RoboGeisha never comes close to the level of entertainment that the best of these movies have to offer.

This is frustrating as all the proper elements for a fun film seem to be in place. There are beautiful women, weird villains and characters undergoing strange transformations, usually by having weapons surgically attached to their bodies. There are crazy and inventive action scenes and copious amounts of fake blood being splashed about. No idea is considered to gonzo to use. In fact, the more gonzo the better, such as the evil henchwomen who shoot acid lactation (“Breast Milk From Hell!”) from their bikini tops or the Japanese feudal castle that transforms in to a giant walking robot. But for all the energy put into the film, these elements never really gel together.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that even by the standards of the genre, RoboGeisha feels exceptionally low budget, with corners cut wherever possible. This wouldn’t be a detraction if the filmmakers coped to the fact and maybe even acknowledged it in some way. Disappointingly, much of the blood splatter from the sword and gun play is achieved through CGI and badly at that.

There are lots of things in the film’s screenplay that don’t hold up to a modicum of scrutiny. While the villain’s plan for using beautiful women to eliminate his enemies would probably feel at home in the heyday of the Bond franchise, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in his grander scheme. Why go through the trouble of individual murders when your big plan is to destroy (and presumably in the process kill all the residents of) Japan? But even in the best of these films script logic doesn’t factor into these things too much, though if the on-screen craziness isn’t enough to distract you from making these realizations while watching the film, something is wrong.

Although it has been going strong for a couple of years now, this wave of indie action/horror/comedy filmmaking still has some inventive life in it. There are a number of good examples out there for people new to the genre to try, but RoboGeisha is probably for diehard fans only.

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