The Machine Girl

The Machine Girl


Reviewed by: Emma Slawinski

Noburo Iguchi’s The Machine Girl marries the revenge and splatter genres and runs with them like a sprinter on steroids – though its 90 minutes will feel more like a marathon to some.

To give it credit, there is at least a semblance of a plot. Sassy but strait-laced schoolgirl Ami (Minase Yashiro, in her first feature performance) cares for her brother after the death of their parents, who committed suicide after being framed for a murder. The town is in the grip of a tyrannical yakuza (Kentaro Shimazu), his satanic wife (Honoka) and their similarly nasty son, Sho (Nobuhiro Nishihara). When Ami’s brother Yu and his friend Takeshi fall victims to Sho’s merciless bullying, she puts her pacifist ideals aside to seek revenge. However, the course of cold-blooded vengeance never did run smooth, and Ami picks up a serious war-wound along the way, which naturally calls for a prosthetic machine-gun arm.

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The film consists of various set-pieces which jostle to outdo each other for gore and inventiveness. Human finger sushi, track-suited ninjas, necrophilia and a flesh-drilling bra are all in the mix, as well as a bit of experimental editing, evidenced in a scene that could be a clip from a Prodigy video. It also covers just about every conceivable method of dissecting, gutting or blowing apart a living body.

The most successful aspect (from the point of view of a non-fan of ultra-violent exploitation flicks) is the atmosphere of Ami’s town – one of ludicrous insanity, where the kids are rotten to the core and the adults need to be in padded cells. But let’s face it, this film was never going to hinge on subtleties of mood, and it’s essentially one long orgy of bloodletting – through which it’s also difficult to discern much plausible acting. The special effects are predictably bargain-basement too.

A more specific complaint is that the opening flashback scene seems thrown in only so that the gorefest can begin immediately (seriously, with 85 per cent of the film dedicated to characters hacking each other up, couldn’t they have waited?), and caused me some confusion later on as I struggled to place some of the characters.

The Machine Girl is probably not the worst this genre has to offer, but it’s vicious and silly and made me feel a bit nauseous. All of which will be nothing but a glowing recommendation to splatter fans – who will know to disregard this review’s star rating. In the meantime, if I have the urge to see Japanese teenagers slashing, blasting or bludgeoning the crap out of each other anytime soon, I’ll stick to a re-watching of the excellent Battle Royale.

Reviewed on: 26 May 2009
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Outrageous revenge B-movie themed around sadistic schoolkids, vicious yakuza and terrifying prosthetics.
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Director: Noboru Iguchi

Writer: Noboru Iguchi

Starring: Minase Yashiro, Asami, Kentaro Shimazu, Honoka, Nobuhiro Nishihara

Year: 2008

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US, Japan


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