Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl


Reviewed by: James Gracey

When Keiko (Eri Otoguro - Shutter) plummets to her death as she argues with vampiric love-rival Monami (Yukie Kawamura) over the pretty but dim Mizushima (Takumi Saitô), her father, the dastardly vice-principal, pulls a ‘Dr Frankenstein’ and resurrects her as part of a fiendish experiment he is conducting in the basement of the school. He bolts together a new body for her and when she returns from the dead as Frankenstein Girl, the stage is set for a dizzying and ludicrously elaborate showdown on top of Tokyo Tower, recalling classic Japanese monster movies such as Godzilla vs Megalon.

Part soap-opera, part monster movie mash-up, part whistle stop tour of Japanese pop culture – albeit one that is filtered through post-Pokémon aesthetics - Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is actually pretty imaginative, effectively realised and boasts a wicked sense of humour unparalleled since The Evil Dead. Amongs the many scenes of blood-splattered mayhem, flesh is corkscrewed off bones, limbs are lopped off, fountains of too-red blood cascade over the camera and ejaculate violently over the actors as bargain basement CGI skulls spin across the psychedelically coloured screen. Cartoon sound effects boing, ring and splurge out from action that is also accompanied by a ceaseless bubble-rock soundtrack.

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Instead of sending up traditional horror fare like the Universal monsters of yore or the swishing capes and heaving bosoms of Hammer Horror, directors Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) and Naoyuki Tomomatsu (Stacy) mine contemporary Japanese pop-culture for kicks, poking fun at youth orientated trends such as ganguro girls, Harajuku kids and ‘wrist-cutters’. The former is a controversial movement that sees Japanese teens emulate black culture through fashion and body modification. Not considered racist, the trend is actually intended to pay homage to black culture. The film also pokes fun at the wave of self-mutilation that regularly sweeps through disaffected Japanese youths with all the subtlety one would expect from such a title.

Everything is shot through warped and crude video game viscera and boasts a comic book colour palette. Caricatures and cartoonish scenes of violence are fed through a deranged Manga ethos to create a film that is uber-kitsch and heavily saturated in post-modern sensibilities, without ever being too knowing about its own absurdity.

One neat twist is ‘Vampire vision’ in which we see how vampires view their prey – walking human-body nervous system diagrams – all CGI veins, vital organs and pumping blood. Tasty. The violence is astoundingly outrageous and makes the likes of The Evil Dead and Re-Animator seem positively subdued. Another pleasant surprise comes in the casting of Eihi Shiina (Audition) as Monami’s doomed mother in a standout flashback sequence. The film utilises a plethora of effect montages, CGI, stop-motion animation, deftly choreographed action sequences and a cacophony of psychedelic blood and gore to tell its twisted tale.

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl proves that filmmakers can still create visually interesting and memorable films on low budgets. All one needs is imagination, drive and vision – and quite clearly Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu possess these traits in abundance. Deliriously sick, completely absurd, impishly funny and possessing a twisted charm all of its own, this is one devilish little flick you won’t forget in a hurry. For a myriad of reasons. Not all of them bad!

Reviewed on: 24 Mar 2010
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Two schoolgirls fight over a boy - using supernatural powers and extreme violence.
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Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura, Naoyuki Tomomatsu

Starring: Yuki Kawamura, Elly Otoguro, Takumi Saitoh, Eihi Shiina, Takashi Shimizu

Year: 2009

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Japan


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