The Japanese have released crazy films with incredible frequency for two decades and for all I know probably more.
But in the last decade Japlunacy has emerged as a bona fide money spinner, the terrain of cinephiles who consider themselves brave and pioneering – and I must admit that at one time I counted myself among that number.
Now? Well it all seems so calculated and clinical, I am no longer so sure I can be bothered promoting these things, even to my twelve readers… (Hey I can round up!)
I mean let’s be honest here, it takes someone a little different and curious (and perhaps juvenile?) to drag one of these titles of the shelf in the first place, and it’s even less likely that the viewer will be converted into a fan.
This might be a niche business, but the fact is it only caters to the same group of fuzz faced, bean-bag owning gamers who feel smug in the knowledge that they mine a genre no-one else likes.
Japlunacy requires three core recurring elements; violence, gore (different things!) and nudity, backed by a healthy dose of insanity.
No prizes for guessing which of the three Erotibot and Horny House of Horror target closest…
Young girl with ro-bot hel-pers
Soon to get wealth-y
Rel-os de-cide to kill her
Porn stars in skim-py out-fits
Schlock. Gore. Blood. And tits.
Cheap C-G-I and F-X
We all know the gist by now
Pur-pose built J-trash
Sil-li-er, but not bet-ter
Guys wearing what are essentially carboard boxes and pretending they’re robots, porn stars wearing what are essentially strings made of pencil case material and pretending they’re actresses.
A filmmaker pointing a camera and spraying fake blood left and right across all of them and pretending he’s an auteur.
Final Rating – 4 / 10. Seems strange to point out that this has the least coherent plot of all three films, but there you go.
If the title alone doesn’t get the DVD rented by unfortunate young men then nothing will. Can the film back it up? More importantly does it need to?
Three am-a-teur base-ball-buds
Call the ‘car-eer’ quits…
… by go-ing to the knock-shop
Ti-tle does most of the work
Wack-e. Sex-y. Fun-e. NOT!
Fir-st flick wher hai-ku too long
An hour too long for premise
I mean that last line. This film is a mere 70 minutes and runs its course in 12. Once they get to the brothel and realise they are merely psycho hooker-bait all that remains is how long it takes for them to be eviscerated and how.
And how often the chick will get mostly naked.
The answers are; not long, nothing worth explaining and frequently – not that this is such a good thing when they are continually covered by sprays of bright red blood.
Final Rating – 3.5 / 10. They might as well use the ‘Ratings Guide’ for the title. “Frequent Nudity and High Level Stylised Violence” would secure just as many rentals without the inconvenience of coming up with a leading title.
If I wasn’t so in need of a third to finish the haikus I would totally review this in full, though ironically Helldriver is perhaps the perfect film for such a limited setting as a 17 syllable non-rhyming poem. This is because I could throw a thousand words at all this madness, where one would do; ‘nuts’.
Any serious discussion about just how crazy the Japanese film industry has become has to acknowledge Yoshihiro Nishimura – the master of Japlunacy. Secondary acknowledgement must also be given to what a pointless discussion it is.
Nishimura is the creator of such ‘classics’ as Tokyo Gore Police, Meatball Machine: Reject of Death and Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl. Any one of those three splatterfests puts either of the above efforts to shame, as if he is sneering from behind the lens “You think you’re crazy? I’LL show you some crazy!”
Here is a man not afraid to put cute Japanese girls in schoolgirl outfits, equip them with all sorts of weapons and then have various ghouls and fiends set to them in mindless fashion.
It is only apt then that we close with Helldriver, a film that caused my scrawled notes to cover two pages and my eyeballs to dry out for fear that an inopportune blink might cause me to miss out on the craziest thing I have yet to see. It’s a strange film where the guns look fake and the severed limbs strewn about the place very real.
It seems that to Mr Nishimura, the phrase ‘Over the Top’, does not translate into Japanese…
Um. Girl fa-ces zom-bie plague
Mum is the queen Zee
Makes pro-gre-ssiv-ly less sense
One scene: a long duel bet-ween
Hedge-hog-Man / ba-by,
Ute / psy-cho with swords for limbs
A to-tal kit-chen sink job
Odd. Weird. Ful-ly in-sane
2 hours of blood bu-kka-ke
I tried to stop writing notes but could not (Another scene: Girl arrives home to find Mum and Uncle killing Dad. They then try to kill her, before a rocket puts a dinner plate sized hole through Mum, who promptly rips out her daughter’s heart from her body, laughs and continues on.)
What Helldriver lacks in coherence it more than makes up in boldness. No film – not even Tokyo Gore Police – was as single-mindedly driven to shock and gross out. This film that knows the Japlunacy is getting old and is determined to raise the stakes once again. Like the kid that eats worms and then is shown Two Girls, 1 Cup, it knows that more worms won’t do the trick, so it pulls out all the stops.
There is eroti-freaky (the two films above) violo-freaky (Tokyo Gore Police) and freaky-freaky (Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl). Helldriver is insani-freaky.
Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. I have no idea who finds true enjoyment in these films beyond the WTF factor, but I will say that if you think this genre is your thing; THIS IS YOUR THING!!
This list started when I rented the following two films as a double pack DVD, then got rounded off when I heard Helldriver was the ‘be all and end all’ of such films.
I lasted 10 or so films in the last few years, but just like Lady GaGa will inevitably learn (if there is a God) you need to try a little harder than mere craziness to call yourself an entertainer.
Consider this my farewell missive to the Japlunacy genre.