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Zombie Jieitai

Film Two Stars

What a great choice for 7:30am after some bacon and egg rolls, struggling for sleep on the all nighter for Dead by Dawn...a blood filled Zombie movie. Quite frankly zombie films don't really move me that much. They tend to be over formulaic and soaked with cliches and impossibilities. Yet that is exactly why so many people like them.

So I'm doing this one for you Zombie fans out there, and at special request of Twitch who I'm also writing these reviews for. I'm taking this one for you...

...Okay, the screening is over and I have to say I am converted. That is probably the funniest film I have seen in a long time, from the opening titles to the closing credits, it is hilarious, and it knows it.

DeadbyDawn_2006.jpgThe print we saw was, we were told, translated into English subtitles just the other week and considering yesterday there was the possibility of not receiving it in time and having to revert to a Japanese only print, you could tell it was rushed. That said most of the subtitles were well done, there were just the odd moments where the words seemed confused and misinterpreted...and therefore very funny.

The introduction with the big anti-war message was where the fun started with the subtitles, and although the message was trying to be at least semi-serious, we were laughing from the first line.

This film has everything, zombies, guns, aliens, huge sword battles, cyborg warriors and the ultimate, Japanese schoolgirl zombies! Absolutely crazy stuff. The great thing is it is so quick to setup the main characters. Straight away we see the spaceship heading for Earth and flying erratically over the forest it has chosen to land in, spraying some green gas as it goes. As it meanders across the skies we are introduced to the different groups of characters that we'll meet - the small Army; the fashion model and crew; the bus load of schoolgirls; the hotel staff, and the hilarious gangsters - and as soon as the spaceship lands the action begins. People start dying, and coming back.

For a low budget film there's some pretty cool deaths and effects. Particularly of interest is the disembowelment scene which had many people grimacing. Then there's some scenes that provide for some of the sickest and at the same time funniest moments I've seen. The pregnant lady and the unborn child. I won't spoil this for you, but the scenes that these characters have are perhaps some of the most distasteful and laughable moments in the film. Throughout the movie the audience was filled with a mixture of hilarity and repulsion, and usually at the same time!

For most of the film it's traditional zombie fair and the usual holed up in a building story. However it's near that time, when everyone decides to make a dash for the outside world, that the story changes, and the cyborg plot line pops into play. It's truly bizarre and not that well handled or visualised, but it fits well with the story and brings funny moments galore.

It also brings us perhaps the finest moment of the film in guise of the sword battle between old and modern soldier. It really does try and do something more than the zombie blood soaked comedy it is, and these few scenes do manage to do that. There's some good sword fighting and stunts, but then it quickly returns to its hysterical roots with the worst "hidden arm in the jacket" moment I've ever seen.

The ending suddenly opens up from the small confines of the forest and gives us a big epic feel, perhaps paving the way for a sequel, or god help us, a franchise! It is very funny though and it never seems to take itself seriously. As such it provides great entertainment, as well as some distasteful scenes.

The gore effects are actually quite well done, although there are a few drawn on cheap CGI (or hand drawn pencil) effects for blood, electricity and the UFO's which do bring down the level of the film. You can see where the money has been spent though, mainly on that disgusting fetus...and the less said, the better.

If you like zombie, blood drenched, gut spinning horror with lashings of comedy then this is for you. It's definitely not my staple diet of cinema, but it did open my eyes to a different kind of fun to be had, and I might well start watching out for some more zombie horror in the future.



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