Friday 3 August 2012

Vampire Girl VS Frankenstein Girl

Girl On Girl Action

Vampire Girl VS Frankenstein Girl
Japan 2009
Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura & Naoyuki Tomomatsu
4 Digital Asia Region 2

Hmmmm... I’ve seen a few of these kinds of movies over the last three or four years, including two by at least one of each of the writers and directors of this movie, respectively, The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police. I think they represent a very popular new trend in Japanese film-making right now which has also permeated the Western world to a large extent, at least in popularity, although not to the point where the US or UK have produced anything like these movies... as yet. It’s probably also quite telling that none of these have really had proper cinema distribution as far as I’m aware of... at least in the UK.

I think this relatively newish genre is just beginning to emerge in its true colours (at least from our perception of it over here) and it’s a genre which I think I’m going to have to label now as “slapstick gore”. When the first few of these came out I was certainly watching them for laughs but I wasn’t really all that certain what the context would be for it’s native audience. But by the time I’d seen Big Tits Zombie 3D (reviewed here) and Robogeisha (reviewed here, with its buildings that spurt fountains of arterial blood when chunks of wall are knocked out), I was coming around to the idea that, actually, these were very much being played for laughs to its indigenous audience as well. You don’t have games of eyeball ping-pong in a zombie movie that’s trying to take itself seriously, for example.

Vampire Girl VS Frankenstein Girl is absolutely going for giggles, no question, but it also has a curious romantic theme running through it in that Monami, the “vampire girl” of the title, partakes in the traditional pastime of giving Valentine (or the Japanese equivalent) chocolate to the male classmate whom she fancies and wants to have as her boyfriend. The boy in question is also the narrator of the tale and Monami has made extra sure of her success in landing the catch of her dreams by filling the piece of chocolate she made him with her vampire blood... which very quickly, after being ingested, turns him into one of her kind and will be properly finalised once he allows her to instruct him in the ritualistic completion of his transformation.

Meanwhile, his other girlfriend Keiko, who he was bullied into accepting as his main squeeze, sees Monami as the threat she is and becomes the villain of the piece.... since Monami is kinda cute and heartfelt in her vampiric portrayal. After her she confronts Monami on the rooftop of the school, she ends up plunging to her death from it. Luckily for her, her mild mannered teacher father is in actual fact some kind of Kabuki-style, mad scientist, frantic Frankenstein who, with his sexy colleague, goes to work using the body parts of some of Keiko’s classmates in order to create his vengeance filled “Frankenstein Girl”, to acquire Monami’s blood. It is in fact, a drop of Monami’s spilled blood (which is curiously cute and anthropomorphic and at one point is chased around a classroom floor as it dodges a mop trying to clean it up) which has made Keiko’s father so successful in his reanimation of dead tissue.

And that’s about all the story you need... it plays out, just as you’d expect, as one long series of battles from here. The humour and satire in this is quite biting, politically incorrect and, I’m guessing, something which a lot of Western directors would not be allowed to get away with including in their own films these days. For example, there is a club of self-harmers in the school who get together and practice their cutting and slicing skills on themselves as training for the 13th Annual Wrist Cutting Marathon. This is not exactly subtle stuff and when the head of the club beats the opposition at the marathon by cutting many times into her wrist without, unlike her opponent, cutting off her arm in a fountain of red gore... this instantly makes her toughened arms a candidate for the parts needed to build Frankenstein Girl.

Similarly, when the head girl of a sect in school who paint their bodies so they can be black (the leader wears a huge afro) is seen to be a powerful runner, she is also murdered so her legs can be part of the Frankenstein Girl mix (there’s a little joke here at Michael Jackson’s expense which is, perhaps, a bit poorly timed).

The film is, to be honest with you, a quite entertaining movie. Just when you thought you’d seen everything that these movies have to offer (flame thrower vaginas in one of them, for example) they bring out another movie where they try to top themselves in terms of sheer gory inventiveness and outrageousness... and it always surprises me when it turns out they actually manage to do it.

In this one, for example, it starts with Monami “taking out” three “modified” hench ladies and she manages to pop their skulls from their skin in new, novel ways... including peeling a piece of skin from the bottom of the head and yanking it, spinning the head around so the complete head peels away to the bone. Or there’s the memorable scene where Frankenstein Girl's arm gets cut in half while she’s holding a short sword, so she uses it as a slice ‘em and dice ‘em boomerang arm for a while. All before she tears the bottoms of both her legs off, joins them together and screws them into the top of her head so she can use them as a helicopter-style rotor blade for flying around with, her bare feet spinning round and round her head.

And of course, all these violent scenes are punctuated with so many spraying geysers of blood that in many of the scenes in this film, it carries on for ages and is used as an atmospheric tool, but the rain showering down is a bright red, and not the traditional mix of water and milk used in a lot of movies. The point being that the sheer explosion of gore in these films has such a desensitising effect after a while that incidents taken out of context and placed in another movie would be horrible to watch, but here seem so natural and tame compared to everything else happening in a scene that they are just accepted as almost a past of the background music or the set design. Gore used as furniture or wallpaper.

It has to be said though, whether you like these kinds of films or not (and I do as it happens), this one pushes the gore gore game up yet another level. If the crazy goings on and Japanese hysteria (occasionally accompanied by the odd song or dance... like in this one) of this kind of product are your thing then you probably won’t want to miss this one, which even has a little heart in its romantic excuse for a plot. The UK DVD is uncut for once (although I can’t figure out why when you compare it to some of the stuff which has been judiciously hacked by the evil BBFC) and is definitely worth picking up. Best watched as a double bill night in with a few mates and some alcohol is my advice on this one. You’ll have a great time with it.


  1. Great review! I caught this one last year and found it entertaining enough, though a lot of the humor and effects fell flat for me. The satire of different teen social groups in Japan was pretty interesting, though, and of course the various crazy fight scenes! I preferred THE MACHINE GIRL, still have to see TOKYO GORE POLICE.

    Oh and the genre is known as "splatterpunk" although "slapstick gore" would work too!

    1. Hi Alex.

      Splatterpunk? Wow, I'm really surpised that term hasn't filtered through to me before now as it's got an appealing edge to the word/phrase. Not sure it really covers the humour in these films but I guess it can be used as an add on like... um... "a splatterpunk comedy" or some such.

      Thanks for letting me know about that. I'm getting old if i'm missing the new genre terms. :(

      I think I liked this movie a little better than the others because it was an out and out comedy AND it also had a tiny bit of heart. Plus it surprised me in a couple of places (which is always a bonus). Tokyo Gore Police takes itself a lot more seriously, although there's a quite outrageous use of arterial spray by the villain at the end.

      Thanks, as always, for reading and taking the time to comment.

      All the best.