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.