Friday, August 31, 2007

Hold on to your dicks, 'cause this one's a doozy.

Mikadroid (1991)

Despite a box cover claiming “Available for the first time in North America”, we all know that this Mikadroid has been around the block, only under a different name: Robokill Beneath Disco Club Layla. One that Discotek has decided to tag on, you know, for ghetto nostalgia. A feeling I’m starting to get.

“The cyborg slashes away her clothes while viciously slicing her body”. Yep, that’s what got thirteen year-old me to scrawl that glorious title onto the lime green order form. Weeks later it arrived, via Miami, a fresh batch of yellow labeled tapes which may or may not have contained traces of Florida snow. I was ready for the Robokill.

What I wasn’t ready for was the unimaginably graphic contortionist porn I got instead. Phone calls were made to my friends, viewings were held. All that was missing was a circle jerk… and Robokill. More weeks pass, this time the real thing arrives.

While it didn’t make me as popular as The Twister, it still brings back memories, and not just ones of a blond with her ankles pulled behind her head. It represents early Japanese movie watching that didn’t involve Street Fighters or Baby Carts, but Evil Dead Traps and Sweet Homes. Late night video romps in the basement, where any thing with a cool box cover, or a lurid description, shot through my VCR faster than a thin-crust through my colon. Nowadays, while I lay off the Domino’s, a lurid synopsis can still do the trick. Kinda like this:

Showa year 20, the Japanese army is undergoing construction on a new breed of indestructible super soldier, the project’s codename: Jin’ra. Men turned into humanoids, one turned into 100% killing machine, the Mikadroid. The plans are halted, and the project buried deep underground, until…. 1991, the disco club Layla, where the preferred dress code for boogieing down is a large medallion, sports coat, and no shirt. Its dance magic gets the sparks flying down below, to the resting place of the ultimate killing machine; bringing it to life in the neon land of Mister Donut. When the club lets out, all paths lead to the underground garage. At midnight, the gates are locked, leaving those inside trapped with the Mikadroid.

It’s nice to be wrong. At thirteen, while I liked the Robokills of the faux-title, it just wasn’t all that impressive after seeing Ron Jeremy lick his own penis while exclaiming “Look what I can do!” No, it was worse than that: it was boring. I didn’t pay to see boring. Then again, I did pay to see Van Damme and Dennis Rodman in Double Team. Eight times.

This time I had fun, not viewing number three of Double Team fun, but fun all the same. Director Tomoo Haraguchi and his crew know their horror; as they visually quote everything from Deep Red to Maniac. Even blaxploitation-actioner Hell Up In Harlem gets a shout out. Though initially wanting to make a zombie epic titled Mikado Zombie, Haraguchi still delivers the goods with this Red Sun Tin-Man slasher, which boasts killer work from modern SFX ace Shinji Higuchi, and, like any hack n‘ slash worth it‘s weight in karyo syrup, loads of inventive kills. While the pacing issues are still present, it doesn’t diminish its position as a true relic of the rough and ready V-cinema days.

So maybe I’m a big nostalgic push over, or maybe I just like crap, but I say dance your heart out in that disco club called Layla; dance all night, then make your way underground to that dark, dank garage, and see what you find. Who knows, maybe ten years down the road it’ll give you some memories.

Wes Black

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Do you know what this is for?! It's for jacking off!"

Anyone with access to a Netflix account should rent 10 to Midnight as soon as they can. I really want to say more, tell you all about the crazy shit that happens, but I won't. You just need to rent it, sit back, and ask yourself "Do you know what this is for?!"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

You and your pussycat lips!

Continuing on with the liquidation of my review archives, here's a snappy little number about Teruo Ishii's Blind Woman's Curse. I thought this one turned out pretty good.

Blind Woman’s Curse (1970)

"When people refer to filmmaking as my job I'm always a bit embarrassed, because I don't consider what I do as anything more than having a great time."
- Teruo Ishii

With an unmatched consistency, the late Teruo Ishii delivered film after film that was, to quote the tagline for Pieces, “Exactly what you think it is.” I’ve seen the looks on your faces when the greatest Japanese cult film you’ve never seen turns out to be Noboru Ando smoking in a dingy bar for eighty-minutes. Hell, I’ve had that look, delivered right to my mug by the greats, but never, ever, by Ishii. With him, the real thing is always better. Which should excuse me from writing a synopsis for this movie, but since I get paid by the word, here we go:

Ishii opens the show with a synchronized, matching-tattoo sword-slashing rain-dance where our gal Meiko Kaji kills somebody’s big boss, and blinds his sister. Then after spending three years in a Technicolor prison cell (years before becoming #701), Kaji returns home to the ol‘ gang. She now must maintain her honor and control while caught in the middle of a twisting, back-stabbing, turn-coating gang war. Oh yeah, there’s also possessions, evil cats, opium den whippings, a dancing, drooling hunchback, an nudie avant-garde haunted house, kitty-cat wire-work (when they’re not yanking it by the tail), and a cane-carrying Ryuichi Uchida in a bowler and red loin-cloth. Anything to avert your eyes from the hairy ninkyo nether regions; something which Ishii admittedly had no taste for.

Likely looking to cash-in on Toei’s popular femme-ninkyo series Red Peony Gambler. the folks at Nikkatsu concocted their own twist to contend with the lady dice-rattler: Rising Dragon, Iron Flesh. The first two films follow the ho-hum ninkyo pattern, but when number three was ready to roll, those Nikkatsu cats asked for a little horror to be thrown in the mix. What they got was starlet Kaji taking a backseat to a mop-topped dandy driving yakuza spook-house ride at three hundred MPH. A mix-tape of madness that makes Seijun Suzuki’s transgressions in youth action seem not so transgressive. I like Suzuki, I swear I do, but people shitting their short-shorts because he floods the set with yellow lights won’t know how to handle Blind Woman’s Curse.

Here’s the real kicker: Ishii made better, and wilder, movies in his career, hell, Ishii made better movies than this that year, and they’re all out there for you to find. So tuck away your Yugi-Oh cards, and gasp at the horrors of a malformed man, scour the depths of hell, and discover the joys of torture. It may all sound too wild, and inconceivable, but don’t you worry, that mop-headed man in the sky will be by your side, holding your hand at every atrocity, and sharing a laugh at every off-color gag. After all, the only one enjoying it more than you or I is Ishii himself.

Wes Black

Sunday, August 05, 2007

One Spicy Meatball!

Yes, I'm sticking with that blog title. Deal with it.

Here's one to get you wet, hard, or, if you're really freaky, both.

Meatball Machine (2006)

“Some came crawling from the ocean, others falling from the sky. They are here to do one thing: eat each other.”

A suicidal salary man is readying to hang it up when things go Predator-vision and he‘s tackled by a tentacled extra-terrestrial bent on bodily invasion. So begins The Tingler meets Tetsuo, as two spaceman-manned Necroborgs do a close encounter of the cannibalistic kind. Bionic-buzz saws slice and dice, but they’re interrupted by an amateur alien hunter and his pulsating-pus-ball packing daughter. Two down, who the hell knows how many to go; soon these alien-assholes spread across Japan. A kid gets run down by a truck, turning his limbs into blood-soaked mud-flaps, projectile vomit floods the frame, and tentacles reach out and touch everyone in a twisted marriage of Overfiend and Evil Dead.

Sadly, they can’t keep up this avalanche of atrocities, leaving the middle a scatter shot mess of sleepy-time inducing love story, sloppily intermixed with much-needed snippets of Necroborg annihilation. With any other flick, I would kick up a bitch-fit, but when the third act hits, it’s all the fun of a veiny penis-rocket emerging from your chest.

With things being so slap-dash, uneven, yet brilliantly imaginative, it’s no surprise to see Yudai Yamaguchi’s name in the credits. Hell, it’s titles like this that put him in a one man race to become Japan’s version of Lloyd “Troma” Kaufman. His influences range from the nonsensical, joke-a-second hijinks of Japanese television, to 80‘s chunk-blower gore-flicks, rounded out with a steady diet of tokusatsu TV and classic Konami arcaders.

All of which make their way into Meatball Machine.

But, it’s not all of Yamaguchi’s invention. Originally a late 90s cult short-film by Jun’ichi Yamamoto, the legend of the Meatball gained enough steam to get a remake, this time with Yamamoto as co-director to co-director/editor combo Yamaguchi. With this Meatball-redux, the Ya-Ya Brotherhood take the Japanese henshin-hero style, blend it with an 80’s splatter aesthetic, and wind up with the long lost Frank Hennonlotter directed GWAR video by way of Tetsuo. Helping things along the way are Keita Amemiya and his gnarly Necroborgs designs, and gross-out FX master, and Yamaguchi regular, Yoshihiro Nishimura, who keeps the impaling, eviscerations, decapitations, and all-around gooiness lookin’ puke-worthy.

Meatball Machine
may come barreling at you with a hard-on, only to go limp midway through, but with a climax where the video game meets the video nasty, it’s just a few pumps away from becoming a modern late-night classic.

Wes Black
TLA/Danger After Dark

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Reader Poll

A host, or just fabulous. You decided.