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Simon Read [Film Festival 10.31.09] Japan movie review scifi horror comedy

Year: 2009
Directors: Yoshihiro Nishimura & Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Writers: Naoyuki Tomomatsu & Shungiku Uchida (manga)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Leave it to the Japanese to take a simple spoof premise, in this case a vampire battling a reanimated corpse, and turn it into something almost incomprehensibly crazy. VG-VS-FG is a fast moving, joke a minute film, flashily directed and full of bizarre pop-culture references that, while somewhat lost on the English audience I saw it with, probably appeal to the average Japanese horror/comedy fan. Thing is, some of it was just... well... creepy.

The story concerns a young student; an incredibly handsome young man who attends Tokyo High School. The local preppy girls are obsessed with him, but in the corner of the classroom sits another girl, quiet and curious, she is of course a vampire. It’s not long before our hero is turned to the blood-sucking ways and the preppy girls are getting revenge. Seems the head girl’s father is a Japanese shaman version of Dr. Frankenstein, and in gaining a sample of vampire blood, has created a serum to turn his daughter into Frankenstein Girl, complete with a rotating arm fixed to her head that allows her to helicopter about the city.

So far so silly, but at the high school there’re two clubs: The Wrist-Cutters Club, who delight in slashing their own arms and exclaiming, “I will be Christ of wrist cut world! Gotta Slash!” And there’s the Ganguro Club, in which students apply special effects make-up in order to make them look African, the effect of which is simply grotesque and seriously unsettling. In the classroom we have this strange mix of obsessive wrist abuse coupled with freakish stereotypes of black African tribes, “Ooga-Booga”-ing around and randomly shouting, “Obama! Change! Yes We Can!” while slapping their lip-plates. It’s just creepy... Their leader is called Afro-Rica by the way.

Outside of that, there’s Frankenstein’s lab, in which he dances around with a sexy female nurse and they sing songs about wanting to create gruesome monsters, mostly they shout, “Can We Do It?” while a bass guitar thumps in the background. During a climactic battle old Frank (who also happens to be the principle of Tokyo High School) bursts onto the scene and shouts, “Here comes the Judge! Kick out the jam! Bang a drum!” Yeah.

The best elements of the film are in the editing, music and fights scenes, all of which are imaginative and amusing, and just about help carry it over the course of 80 minutes without becoming tiring. The film is well intentioned, with a real sense of fun and anything-goes, which is evident by the above descriptions, I guess. Thing is, the audience I was with just laughed nervously at such crude stereotypes, and then left in silence, and I joined them in it. It’s telling at one point a character actually breaks the fourth wall and tells the other actor to, “Tone it down, will you?”

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Vampire Girl (12 years ago) Reply

I felt so uncomfortable and queasy during some parts of this film. I love vampire pics, but honestly this was not one. This was my first hardcore Japanese gore pic. I think I would have liked it more if I knew that before going in.

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