Yes, it’s Sunday. Day of rest, day of worship (for some of you), day of laundry (for most of you) and day of bat-shit crazy movies (for me). This week, I have hit up Lovefilm* for a cracker from Japan.
Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl
What Twilight should have been.
From the director of Tokyo Gore Police comes this opus of high school crushes, sexy nurses, competitive wrist-cutting, and blood. Lots and lots and lots of blood.
Cap’n Spoiler says: “Yarrgh!”
Sorry if this is a bit recap-heavy but I can’t talk about this flick without explaining the story a bit, so here goes. Monami Arukado is a new transfer student in love with a boy in her class named Jyugon. She is also a vampire, and takes advantage of the Japanese tradition of girls giving their crushes chocolate on Valentine’s day to present Jyugon with a truffle she has made, filled with her own blood. I bet you can’t guess what happens next? No family baseball games and endless mooning around for Monami, oh no. This girl gets straight to the point. Unfortunately for her though, Jyugon already (sort of) has a girlfriend: Keiko, the vice-principal’s daughter. Keiko doesn’t take too kindly to some transfer student stealing her fella, and winds up fighting Monami on the roof of the school. I bet you can’t guess what happens next? Actually, you probably can. Don’t worry, that’ll change soon enough.
Despite being vice-principal of the school, Keiko’s father is a bit of a wuss. He’s also the science teacher and he’s afraid of the some of the other faculty, so Keiko’s attempts to get him to use his position to get her out of trouble don’t always work. This meekness is all just a front though. When he goes down to his secret lab under the school he becomes (wait for it – and this is so awesome it has to be capitalised) DR KABUKI FRANKENSTEIN! He is working with the school’s over-sexed and very sexy nurse to carry on the work of Victor Frankenstein and create life from death. To assist his research, Nurse Mikado brings down students for them to hack up then put back together in increasingly odd arrangements. Surprisingly his experiments do not succeed, until Nurse Mikado brings him a drop of Monami’s blood that was left behind in her office. This vampire blood has all sorts of nutty effects on the stuff in KABUKI FRANKENSTEIN’s office, including turning a bunch of screws into living screw-worm creature things. Now I know you didn’t guess that was happening next.
So, we’ve got Keiko dead after falling off the roof, and we’ve got Keiko’s father now able to make life out of death. Enter Frankenstein Girl! Now of course it would be too easy to just reanimate Keiko’s body, so he sends Nurse Mikado out to get some parts for improvements. She comes back with the forearms of the captain of the school’s winning Wrist-Cutting team, and the lower legs of the leader of the Ganguro girls – time for a brief anthropological detour. Ganguro is a subculture among teens and early twenties girls in Japan that involves heavy fake tans, bleached hair and white makeup around the eyes and lips. The word ganguro translates literally as “blackface”. In Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl, the filmmakers have taken that literal translation to its absurdist extreme and made the Ganguro girls wannabe Africans. They have afro wigs and prosthetics on their faces to change their features. Do you remember those Superman cartoons from the 40s where the Man of Steel was in Africa? The ones that people now pretend never existed because of the representation of the Africans? Well it is this image of Africans that the Ganguro girls are trying to emulate. It has to be seen to be believed. Now I’ve read some reviews that called this movie horrifically racist because of its depiction of black people. Whoever wrote these reviews probably didn’t have the subtitled version, since there aren’t any black people in the film. Without understanding the story, I could see how that misapprehension occurred, but the filmmakers are actually taking a satirical swipe at the ganguro of Japan, and those who appropriate the superficial trappings of another culture as their own, without knowing the underlying essence of that culture itself. As I mentioned before, this film is Absurd. Subtlety has no place in this world. Okay, detour over.
So, KABUKI FRANKENSTEIN has managed to rebuild his dead daughter while weaponising her in the process, and the stage is set for the final battle between Monami and Keiko for the heart of Jyugon (remember him?). Bloodshed ensues.
Cap’n Spoiler says: “Yarrgh, spoilers be gone.”
The story of this flick came from the manga of the same name. I’m no fan of manga so I’m really the wrong person to ask how faithful an adaptation it is, but as a movie in and of itself, this almost defies conventional criticism. I mentioned before about absurdist extremes, well, that’s is essentially what this whole flick is. Personally, I loved it. The general atmosphere is the same heightened bonkersness as in Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl (I mention these specifically because they are recent films of a shared lineage that I happen to have seen) but there are plenty of others like them. A quick search on youtube will give you enough trailers to either make you want to move to Japan or to never watch another film as long as you live. RoboGeisha is probably next on my list.
I also watched The Boondock Saints 2 today. It’s a bag of shite, but at least Troy Duffy has reined in some of his more excessive instincts this time. He still can’t hold a camera still for more than a second and a half without swirling around someone, but this outing does have a bit more charm than the first one, thanks mainly to Clifton Collins Jr and Julie Benz (let’s just admit it; these two are usually the best thing about whatever they happen to be in). Everyone is still desperate to point out that they aren’t gay, however. Hmm. It does have a couple of cool moments, particularly the assault on Yakavetta’s apartment. Although Duffy has clearly never been to Ireland.
*And nope, still no free subscription. Sort it out Lovefilm, or am I gonna have to switch to Netflix?