Switchblade Pictures' double feature disc of Slit Mouth Woman and Zombie Dead includes two short Japanese horror movies that ought to have been either much shorter, or much longer. Both are slight treatments of horror themes, that still seem overlong and padded.
Slit Mouth Woman
Slit Mouth Woman is less about the eponymous villainess than the two high school students, Ayakawa (Aya Kato) and Akimoto (Masaki Kanemura), who make it their business to discover who it is that is stabbing to death random men on the street. Ayakawa gets a tip from a homeless man who heard the killer singing an old pop song while she murdered the latest victim. She and Akimoto discover that this song was the lone hit of pop singer Mika Shiratori (Ayumi Onodera), who has since disappeared from public view. The two students manage to track down Mika's former manager Yanemura (Keisuke Urushizaki), who claims he doesn't know where she is, and that he would kill her himself if he did.
Ayakawa and Akimoto don't believe his story, and continue investigating. In the mean time, the slit mouth killer claims a couple more victims. The intrepid teens won't be stopped, by locked doors or crazed murderers or anything else, and eventually cross paths with the killer, leading to the less than thrilling conclusion. The biggest problem with Slit Mouth Woman is that, despite its running time of around seventy minutes, it is very slow moving. Not much happens, and characters will stand around and talk for long periods of time about inconsequential matters that don't move the plot along. The camera lingers over small details that tell the audience little, and don't add to the suspense either. The film could easily have been thirty minutes shorter with very little plot or character information left out. This slow pace also leeches out what little tension there is, leaving the film tepid and listless. Combine this with the few odd continuity problems (at one point, someone is clearly heard snoring off screen, and for which no character could possibly be responsible) and the limp, low drama murders, and there's not much to enjoy.
Zombie Dead is even shorter than Slit Mouth Woman, clocking in at just over an hour, and is even more thinly plotted. A young woman, Satomi (Ai Kawanaka) wakes up in an abandoned hospital with no memory of how she got there. She soon encounters a man, Kusuki (Keisuke Urushizaki, who also starred in Slit Mouth Woman) who says that he is one of the "taken" and helps her find some clothes in a locker so that they can change out of their hospital gowns. We are also introduced to Chisato (Erina Onishi), another young woman in the hospital who is being chased around by a zombie. The three soon get together, and learn that they are quarantined in the hospital, which is guarded by chemical suited guards. A few zombie fights later, and Satomi is strapped to a chair in a room full of soon to be reanimated corpses and trying to cut her ropes with glass shards held between her toes.
There's really not a lot to say about the plot of Zombie Dead because it doesn't have much of one. The film is terribly underwritten, with little dialogue and hardly even an attempt at characterization or story. It all feels thrown together in an afternoon, and lacks urgency and thrills. The moderately cool zombie makeup and nice sets don't make up for the lack of scares or tension. If one is not entertained watching cute girls being chased by the undead, there's precious little to value here.
Both of these films lack much punch or verve, that chaotic exuberance that often saves independent films from their small budgets and technical limitations. They're just going through the motions, laboring to get an hour of footage up on the screen, and succeeding at hardly anything else. The thin plots, merely workmanlike performances and general incoherence doom them to be both short and boring. This is a disc to skip.
Both films are presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. Zombie Dead looks better than Slit Mouth Woman, but both have a lot of aliasing. Also, in Slit Mouth Woman bright light tends to wash out color and detail, and the image is quite harsh.
The sound is presented in Dolby 2 channel on both films, and does its job but is not remarkable. The dialogue is always audible, but this is hardly important with the English subtitles provided. No alternate languages are available. No hiss or interference can be heard.
The only extras included on the disc are trailers for Cruel Restaurant, Attack Girls Swim Team vs. the Undead and Death Row Girls.
Neither movie on this disc offers much in the way of entertainment. They're not scary. They're not sexy, aside from the aforementioned cute girls pursued by zombies angle. They're not exciting or engaging. It seems as if minimal effort was exerted in the production of these films. They were carelessly cast off, and that lack of concern on the part of the filmmakers shows. Skip these.