Thursday, May 8, 2014

In short: Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead (2012)

When they work, Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s (of Stacy – Attack of the School Girl Zombies etc fame) films are like a certain kind of punk rock – cheap, a bit nasty, definitely tasteless but also imaginative and bizarre in a way only something can be that doesn’t have to give a shit about what people think of it. Rape Zombie (only authentic with a horribly catchy bad extreme metal title track I’m pretty sure is called “Rape Zombie Rape”) certainly is one of these, with hardly a minute going by that doesn’t make you cringe (sometimes in embarrassment), giggle madly, or mumble to yourself “what the hell am I watching here, exactly?”.

Where a few too many contemporary Japanese low to no budget splatter epics tend to be slow, ponderous affairs that can’t hide that there’s only money for about fifteen minutes of actual film available to the production, Tomomatsu gets around the problem by acts of sheer imagination and chutzpa. So what if he can only afford three action set pieces? He can sure as heck fill the space in between with stuff like a bizarre TV discussion between a crazy evolutionary biologist (as is tradition making pretty obvious why nobody takes scientists putting “evolutionary” before their actual discipline all that seriously), a radical feminist, a radical ecological protector (in a suit), and a doctor of medicine that becomes more absurd the longer it all goes on, which, now that I think about it, must actually be for more than a day for the characters involved.

Among the film’s other highlights are a North Korean nuclear attack (we all knew Japanese pop culture filth must be responsible for the rape-zombie-pocalypse, North Korea says), the glowing rape zombie messiah, cosplay that’s kinda-sorta plot point, random digressions into mythology and cultural philosophy which to a degree might actually be meant seriously (as is Tomomatsu’s wont), and everyone’s favourite Japanese contemporary low budget/pinku/v-cinema actress Asami demonstrating that she’s gotten rather good at the whole on-screen fighting thing (she’s even credited as involved in the action choreography).

Saying it all comes together to something that’s often quite more charming, less unpleasant, much funnier, and decidedly more entertaining than the film’s title promises does rather sound like damning it with faint praise; so let’s just say that Rape Zombie is actually pretty fantastic for a film only held together by spit, the cheapest digital effects, cardboard and sheer wilful imagination, and leave it at that.

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