In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fantasia, Part Two.

My next film on Saturday afternoon, was the Japanese samurai flick Chanbara Beauty. This movie sold me on the poster alone, so I had no idea what I was in for. Okay, that's a tiny fib. In my heart, I knew.

Aya, a sultry samurai with ‘interesting’ fashion sense, travels across a post-apocalyptic land searching for her sister, who she saw murder their father many years before. Vengeance is her lone purpose, as she slices her way through the incumbent zombie population to find her.

Needless to say, I walked out of this movie with a big smile on my face. Serena hated it, but that’s okay. I don’t think she was their target audience. ;) Yeah, so Chanbara Beauty was kind of awesome. It was incredibly cheesy, convoluted and filled with CGI nonsense, but I still found it highly enjoyable. Oh, and did I mention there were zombies too?

Chanbara Beauty is based on a video game I’ve never played (or even heard of), but who cares? It’s got not one, not two, not three, but FOUR ladies with mad skills. We’ve been seeing stuff that looks like live action anime for quite a while now, most recently Machine Girl and (to a certain extent) Wanted, but Chanbara Beauty is probably the most extreme case I’ve seen so far. The final battle scene could have BEEN a videogame. All that was missing were the health bars and combo counters.

Just as a side note, even though I said I’d never heard of this game previously, I think this Aya character may be a big deal in Japan. I watch a lot of G4 (which regularly looks in on Japanese culture) and this week I’ve already seen her referenced twice. Coincidence? She could be the Lara Croft of the Orient for all I know. Anyway, I think after seeing the picture above, you’ve already decided whether this movie is your thing or not. The Japanese always have been the best at selling their product with just a single still, wouldn’t you say?

Case in point, my midnight screening and main reason I was here in Montreal. Tokyo Gore Police!

The lineup outside kept going...
and going...

and going...
and going...

The theatre was packed and the crowd lively...

Director Yoshihiro Nishimura and Miss Audition herself, Eihi Shiina.

After a short introduction in broken English - “This movie is crazy… but… good” - a highly excited audience buckled down for what was to be the Ninth Symphony of Gore.

The Tokyo Gore Police is about a privatized section of the Japanese police force commissioned to hunt down genetic mutants called Engineers. TGP employee Ruka (Shiina) discovers a conspiracy within her ranks that puts her training to the ultimate test.

Film company Fever Dreams are certainly taking a run at cornering the market on crazy-insane, insane-crazy. Their attitude seems to be that the sky’s the limit when it comes to what they will put onscreen. The idea of the Engineers in TGP is brilliant. Basically, whenever they are wounded, they can regenerate that lost body part into some sort of kick ass weapon.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless.

I can just picture these Japanese dudes sitting around a table throwing out the most bizarre brainstorms imaginable. They probably had this huge whiteboard with three columns labelled “Fucked Up Shit”, “Awesome” and “F’d Up Shit That Is Also Awesome” and they just went from there.

TGP is one of those movies you just have to go with because with every scene, things just get more and more absurd. It takes themes previously touched on by Paul Verhoeven and David Cronenberg, puts them in a rocket launcher (or rather, penis cannon!) and shoots them into the stratosphere. I can’t even fathom how much blood they must have used in this production. TGP is SOAKED in it and as you can see from the trailer, it literally rains blood in one scene. TGP is also riddled with these great mock television commercials (like those in the Robocop films), including one for a Wii-like device with a samurai sword attachment. Hilarious!

TGP is definitely crazier than Machine Girl, but also a lot more incoherent. I must admit my jaw was agape a few times, as sometimes I had to lean forward and try to figure out what I was looking at. I should mention I’d had a ‘few’ drinks before the screening. As mind-boggling as this may sound, my two compatriots were nodding off beside me as TGP raged on. I had to laugh at this. We’re in one of the loudest theatres I’ve ever been in, screening one of the most effed up movies ever, with a crowd that is cheering loudly every two minutes… how the HELL are you guys falling asleep?! Granted, I caught more zees than them the night before, but come on!

As a movie, I’d say Machine Girl is superior, but as an experience I think TGP may have the upper hand. The “More Gore To Come” banner and the film’s end received an anticipatory roar from the crowd. They will be back. As will I.

Well, that wraps up Saturday, onto Part Three.


Anonymous said...

The title is Onechan Bara (Oh-Neh), not chanbara. It means little sister rose or something like that.

Jay Clarke said...

Yes, the original title is One Chanbara, but domestically, or at least at the Fantasia screening it was called Chanbara Beauty.

We're both right.

Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse said...

Onechanbara, you are SO CRAZY. I didn't love this movie, but it was impressively over the top. Should have been shorter though, it kind of dragged on.

Also, the Japanese must be more tolerant of bad CGU than Americans are.

Jay Clarke said...

It's ok, the Japanese have way better poster art. It's a fair trade off.