Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zombie Hunter Rika (Kenichi Fujiwara, 2008)

Risa Kudo as high school girl Rika in Zombie Hunter Rika (2008).

Kenichi Fujiwara's Zombie Hunter Rika is the third part in a trilogy of unrelated zombie films that started with Stacy (2001) director Naoyuki Tomomatsu's Zombie Self-Defense Force (2006). The second film was the not so great The Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers (2007) by Koji Kawano who after making his feature debut with the lesbian teen drama Love My Life (2006) seems to have found a home in the horror/gore genre.

The movie starts out with Rika and a friend of hers from school being attacked by zombies and being saved by a yakuza who, incidentally, is headed to the same place as Rika, her grandfather's house. Rika's grandfather is a famous surgeon who is struggling with dementia, living with his young wife who may only be after his money. They also hook up with a zombie who's slightly more sophisticated than his undead friends. Their mission becomes to defeat the leader of the zombies named Grorian, killing him will make everything go back to normal. The problem is that Grorian has already killed The Zombie Hunter which will cause the US to send missiles over Japan to eliminate the zombies.

Ultra low budget, shot on video, with homemade special effects, Zombie Hunter Rika isn't a perfect film. The lack of special effects is its biggest weakness since a film like this is really about the gore and not the story. In the action scenes the camera always cuts away and all you get to see is blood spraying from off-screen. The action is directed by Versus star Tak Sakaguchi but it doesn't really show until the final showdown between Rika and Grorian, which is actually pretty sweet albeit short, this must be what they spent the money on as it looks like a completely different movie.

Still, I didn't mind Zombie Hunter Rika too much, it has its moments and the music by Hideto Takematsu seems inspired by Nobuhiko Morino's score for Versus and actually helps to heighten the mood in some scenes, making Rika as a whole become something better than its individual parts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New titles from Pink Eiga

Usually I wouldn't do this, but since I think Pink Eiga are putting out some really great films, I'll just inform about what they're planning for this fall. Personally I'm most looking forward to Blind Love (2005) from Daisuke Goto, the director of the earlier Pink Eiga release, A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn (2003). Visit their site to watch trailers for the films.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Invitation Only (Kevin Ko, 2009)

Maria Ozawa in Taiwanese slasher flick Invitation Only (2009).

Invitation Only got some publicity before it's premiere for being Taiwan's first slasher film, and because Japanese porn actress Maria Ozawa has a small role in it, but after the premiere it's been mostly quiet about it and with good reason. Invitation Only starts out with a guy working as a driver being invited to a party by his employer after he accidentaly walked in on his employer and his model girlfriend having sex in the car. At the party there are several people attending for the first time who have all been invited by the people they work for, the only requirement being to write down their craziest fantasy on the back of the invitation for it to come true. Sound too good to be true? It is. And this is when the film stops being good too, if it ever was. It turns out that the organizers of the party are more into torturing and killing their new arrivals than making their wishes come true.

When things are turning ugly for the characters the filmmakers actually manage to bring down the pace of the film and turn it into a sleeping pill. It takes about 45 minutes of eventless running up and down hallways with occassional confrontations with the killers before anything remotely interesting happens, the best thing about the film being the still completely unnecessary set up for a sequel in the final seconds. The only reason to watch the film would be for the gore, there's lots of it and it's very brutal. Not counting pure gore flicks like Tokyo Gore Police, this is probably the bloodiest film I've seen in a while. For me though, it didn't help the film entertain.