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Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl
The latest and greatest effort from Japanese B-movie machine Yoshihiro Nishimura is the awkwardly titled Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl which opens with a remarkably gory sequence in which a beautiful teenage vampire girl disposes of a quartet of undead foes with enough face ripping and arterial spray to make Andreas Schnaas blush. From there, we learn that in Japanese culture, if a girl likes a boy it is customary for her to give him some chocolate. Enter foxy Monami Alucard (Alucard, get it? Anyway, she's played by pretty Yukie Kawamura), an exchange student who shows an uncanny resemblance to that death dealer we saw in the opening scene. She's got a crush on Jyugon (Takumi Saito), a dreamboat and the apple of all the ladies' eyes on class. She offers him a chocolate and he accepts it, unaware that the filling is actually her blood and that by accepting this he's half way to becoming a vampire himself.
None of this sits well with Keiko (Eri Otoguro), the daughter of the vice principal and a bitchy type who has decided that, like it or not, Jyugon is her man. This complicates things, as does the fact that the school nurse has discovered that there's something unique about Monami's blood that makes it go berserk in the presence of human blood. It all hits the fan when Monami kills Keiko and Keiko's father, a closeted mad scientist, reanimates her in Mary Shelly's grand tradition and brings his daughter back to life as... Frankenstein Girl.
Take any high school romance film you'd care to name, pull out whatever plot and character development there might be and replace it with racist and sexist humor, screwy special effects, unusually straight laced acting and buckets, no, make that truckloads of gore and you're close to capturing the essence of this truly bizarre import from the land of the rising sun. The film is so gleefully obtuse, however, that you can't really take too much offence to the fact that it features a subsection of female students out to make their message heard by slitting their wrists or that there's another clique of Japanese girls so obsessed with black culture that they carry spears, tease their hair into afros and put plates in their lips. This movie definitely 'goes there' as far as that type of humor goes, but as surprisingly harsh as it can be, somehow it never feels all that mean spirited and just try not to laugh when they start chanting Obama's election campaign slogans.
An exercise in humor over story and style over substance, this film is splatstick to the nth degree. So gory does it get in spots that you almost won't believe what you're seeing. In scene in particular shows a death of a character at Monami's hands and showcases more arterial spray than the entire six film Lone Wolf And Cub series combined and the filmmakers don't even bother trying to hide the fact that there are obviously jets spraying from all different directions, not just the severed neck. The filmmakers don't care about logic here, they're just out to gross us out and entertain us and make us laugh along the way. By poking fun at social taboos and taking things to such a ridiculous extreme, they've made a film that isn't the least bit frightening but which is quite funny and far more interesting and successful than other recent efforts in the same vein such as Robo-Geisha. You could argue that this film is trying too hard to be 'cult' and that's probably true, but it works - and if it works, why fix it?The DVD
Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl was shot on high definition video and the AVC encoded 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen 1080i presentation showcases the movie in its original aspect ratio. The image is as clean as you'd expect though it has a very artificial look at times, no thanks to the goofy CGI that is used throughout the movie. This actually works in the context of the world where the film takes place, however - the movie isn't going for realism, it doesn't want or need to. There aren't any problems with compression artifacts to note, and black levels are generally strong and deep. Contrast is properly set and while it doesn't take an eagle-eyed viewer to notice periodic instances of banding and aliasing, these problems are minor and overall this is quite a good transfer of some screwy looking source material. Keep in mind, however, that much of the film is going to look very soft, based simply on how it was shot and how much post production tinkering has been done to the picture.Sound:
Audio options are supplied in Japanese language Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and in English language Dolby TrueHD 5.1 with optional subtitles available in English only. The Japanese track is a decent one but the lack of a true surround mix is definitely noticeable the low end isn't as strong as it could be here. Aside from that, the mix sounds pretty decent. The English 5.1 mix spreads things out more and adds a bit more depth to the mix, but doesn't feel nearly as natural or fit the film as well as the Japanese track does. Regardless of which option you go for, dialogue is well balanced as are effects and the film's score and there aren't any real problems here. The English subs are free of any obvious typos and aside from a few instances where they appear overtop of a lighter colored background, are easy to read.
The bulk of the extra material here comes in the form of three featurettes, the first of which is called Opening Day Stage Greetings and follows a twenty-minute question and answer session with the cast and crew which was held before the film's Japanese premiere. Complimenting this are Making Of Video Part 1 and Making Of Video Part 2, a combined sixty-five minutes of behind the scenes footage and cast and crew interviews that show how some of the actors and actresses approached their respective roles, how some of the effects sequences were put together and how some of the make-up effects were handled. There could have been more context to this material, as much of it is just presented sort of randomly, but some interesting moments make it worth skimming through.
Aside from that, look for a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Funimation properties, animated menus and chapter stops. The disc itself fits inside a standard Blu-ray case which in turn is housed inside a slipcase cover. All of the extras are in standard definition anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with optional English subtitles.
Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl is, to be blunt, bat-shit crazy. It's so over the top and gleefully offensive that you can't help but love it and if the story isn't much more than a series of off the wall set pieces strung together by the thinnest of plots, at least those set pieces deliver. Funimation's Blu-ray release looks okay considering the low budget origins and offers up some decent sound alongside some fairly light extra features. Recommended for cult film and horror movie enthusiasts just on the sheer insanity of it all.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.