Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In short: Guzoo (1986)

aka Life after Dead

A quartet of Japanese schoolgirls travels to a summer house in the country that belongs to the archaeologist dad of one of them. The girls don't have the place completely alone for themselves, though.

One of archaeolo-Dad's students is using the house's cellar as a lab for some mysterious "studies" and "experiments" (archaeologists do experiments?).

Something doesn't seem to be right about the place.

The countryside around the house is full of mirrors, while the house itself only seems to feature two. Early on, science gal secretly smashes all mirrors the girls brought with them too.

Could this random act of destruction have anything to do with the maggoty, rotten flesh the woman regularly brings into the cellar, as if she were feeding something?

All (except for motivations and plans and silly stuff like that, of course) becomes clear when one of the girls is attacked by tentacles trying to pull her into the kitchen mirror. Science gal tries to divert the girls' attention from the problem, but soon the mythical enmity between schoolgirl and rubbery tentacle monsters who live in cellars and use mirrors as doors can't be held back any longer. Only the random power of randomly played musical instruments will hold the monster off!

Given that Guzoo was directed by Kazuo "Gaira" Komizu, the director of Entrails of a Virgin I was a little afraid the film would be part of the live action tentacle rape genre that (unfortunately) never seems to feature watchable films. Komizu surprised me by keeping his film completely sex and rape-free and as clean as films in which teenagers are messily ripped apart by tentacles get. So clean, in fact, that I was a little disappointed.

Before the violence, Komizu has set put some efforts into setting a slightly creepy mood. A few weird camera angles and the strangeness of the shots of the mirrors surrounding the house don't add up to too much, but for a 40 minute direct to video film that needn't try to do even the slightest bit of mood-building, it's a tolerable way of going about it.

The rubber monster is satisfyingly rubbery and be-tentacled, the blood red and thin and the young actresses are better than they strictly need to be. (Digression: the character types of the girls reminded me a little of Hausu; perhaps both films source these from popular books or manga I've never heard about?)

A bit more problematic is the script, or rather its insistence on not thinking the motivations of its human bad guy, the reason for the mirror set-up or the logic behind the way the monster is dispatched in the end through at all - or at least never mentioning anything about it to the viewer - , but these problems didn't hinder me from being mildly diverted and entertained by Guzoo, which is all I ever asked of it.

In the end, you just can't go very wrong with Japanese schoolgirls fighting tentacle monsters.


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