Ventura // Unrated // $24.99 // April 29, 2003
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted June 1, 2003
Highly Recommended
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Japanese goreteur Atushi Muroga confesses he'd only seen George Romero's immortal Night of the Living Dead when he first began developing this picture. Well, it surely appears Atushi got his zombified ducks in a row, because much of the amusement for CineSchlockers will be spying to which genre flicks he's paying fromage. Mr. Muroga actually describes his clever creation as the product of "borrowing chaos," although there's probably something lost in the translation. Like irony. Because the far from Frankensteinian film's only chaos spills forth exactly from where it should. In a gleeful wash of righteously gruesome goo that takes on near tidal force by when the credits roll.

Right from reel one, there's the macabre flashbulb slide show from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which leads us into a secret U.S. military lab -- inexplicably housed in a decaying Okinawa factory -- where a most assuredly croaked and conviently nekkid Japanese honey is jabbed with a syringe full of a glowing green Re-Animator-esque elixir. Naturally, the nudette awakes with a powerful hankering for Fruit Roll-Ups slathered with red corn syrup, er, make that an unrelenting craving for HUMAN FLESH!!! Hence the heinous hickeys our Zombie Queen (Miwa) bestows upon those naughty scientists who dare cheat the Grim Reaper. Meanwhile, back at the mall, a scrappy troop of thieves take cues from the Reservoir Dogs by strutting in slow mo and pilfering jewelry store bobbles. That squirrelly fella with the samurai sword is Osamu Ebara (as Akira) fresh from the Jim Carrey School of Facial Contortion. He's here to shove his mug right into the camera and scream like a pigtailed little girl. Such vocal talents come in handy when the paint-by-numbers crime drama suddenly swerves into the oncoming lane of an entirely different genre. Like From Dusk Til Dawn's Titty Twister, our ill-fated jewel thieves, guided by wheel hottie Kaori Shimamura (as Saki), foolishly choose the aforementioned zombie factory to do bidness with yakuza toughs. Fans of Return of the Living Dead will especially giggle as a machine gun battle splatters "DNX" all over a slew of canvas body bags which begin to squirm precisely as when the living dead burrowed from cemetary plots in the '80s classic -- right down to the MUSIC!!! Such jocularity. That's about the moment the Zombie Queen strips some black leather duds off an unfortunate and takes to leaping around the factory with white eyes and a day-glow hairdo like those kiddos in Village of the Damned. Saki, Akira and Dr. Nakata (Yuji Kisimoto), who helped develop DNX and is now somehow qualified as a whup-hiney commando, do their darndest to spank the unruly royal as her cannibalistic horde do what comes natural. The horrific hijinks climax in an admirable aping of Dead Alive's slip 'n' slide finale replete with FX guys, crouched barely out of frame, hosing the whole joint down with great big blood-filled fire extinguishers.

While filmed in Japanese, marvel as Mr. Kisimoto delivers most of his dialogue in mumbled quasi-English as if he were noshing ham sandwiches in rapid succession. Cruel trick making the guy forgo his native tongue, but SOMEONE's gotta talk turkey with the evil, evil U.S. military. CineSchlockers in search of further evidence that Leonardo DiCaprio IS in all actuality EVIL, will delight in the knowledge that the entire Junk production was shoo'd from Thailand in favor of Leo's post-Titanic disaster The Beach. Although, to be fair, it DID introduce Ms. Virginie Ledoyen's spectacular talents to American moviegoers and freeze-frame perverts.

Two breasts. Way more than 26 corpses. Multiple hypodermic closeups. Pistol whipping. Gratuitous wriggling maggots. Multiple impalements AND disembowelments. Cell phone shenanigans. Two-fisted gun shooting. Grenade launching. Scissors to the foot. Gratuitous ticking "Auto Destructor." All-you-can-eat intestinal buffet. Handy high-voltage wires. Head tumbles. No sprechen sie Japanese, but it does appear they too favor time-honored "I heard a noise" dialogue such as, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!"

Not much in the way of extras, yet what's here is a hoot. Gorehounds won't believe their peepers upon making their way to the trailer vault for outrageously glop-laden reels on Evil Dead Trap 2, Mermaid in a Manhole, Android of Notre Dame, this flick and even "making of" footage from Guinea Pig. There's an image gallery with nearly 50 juicy shots including everyone's newest favorite bare-breasted beastie. Eerie motion-video menus allow viewers to gun down one of five swaying ghouls. The cover itself is reversible to appease squeamish retailers alongside sickos like us, so fear not, whichever version, the same uncut goodness abounds within. (1999, 83 mins, 1.66:1, DD 2.0 with optional English subtitles, Gallery, Trailers.)

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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.

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