Compared to last night’s debacle, things went great tonight. My new copy of JUNK worked flawlessly, delivering a great movie that only made me more angry/sad that my own copy is DOA. Fuck. But yeah, JUNK was just fantastic. I didn’t notice the first time around how like the Italian zombie movies it is, probably in large part because I had seen far fewer Italian zombie movies at that point. While it does have a very Japanese sensibility, the look, gore and plot of it were very reminiscent of the spaghetti dead — which is a good thing. Lots of gore, very Dawn of the Dead Romero-looking zombies, visual and audio references to everything from Re-Animator, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, and Return of the Living Dead (or perhaps Zombie 3) to Terminator 2 and Aliens. It seems like a very influential zombie movie in terms of later Japanese works, which is also a good thing.
If you don’t know the plot, JUNK concerns the intersection of some amateur jewel thieves, their double-crossing Yakuza fence and a U.S. military experiment in reanimating the dead. That’s pretty much it — just throw those elements together and away we go. It had two opposing strong female leads — one of the jewel thieves repping the living, and a super-zombie hottie (yeah, I said it — she runs around naked for a good chunk of the movie and looks good, just kind of pale) who leads up the animate dead. Very feminist, until they kind of throw that out at the end and the jewel thief accepts a traditionally subservient role to get with her man. Lame. But not lame enough to reduce the awesomeness of the movie. It’s a real shame this is out of print. Needs a special edition NOW.
In a stroke of good fortune, Tokyo Zombie was also awesome, albeit in a totally different way. A movie about two factory workers who live to practice jujitsu and the zombie apocalypse that befalls them, TZ is absolutely absurd from beginning to end. It’s full of slapstick and Three Stooges-style physical humor, takes numerous insane and unexpected plot turns, delivers clever, if not particularly subtle, jokes aplenty and was generally enjoyable. It was also nicely produced, shot and acted, so it looked good and went down easy.
It’s definitely one of the more light hearted and strange zombie movies of not just Japan week, but of my zombie experiences. I can recommend it highly, but I suspect not everyone will agree with me — I happen to really enjoy the Japanese sense of humor and approach to storytelling, which isn’t necessarily a common thing.But if you like manga (this is based on one), anime or similar Japanese pursuits, this might be right up your alley.
So that is it for Japan. We return to mostly themeless meanderings acorss the zombie landscape, although I chose our next entry, Enter Zombie King, because of its Lucha Libre connection, as a nod to a friend of mine who’s doing a lucha thing the same night. Good luck with your event, Sid!