Monday, 9 August 2021

One Cut Of The Dead In Hollywood

Rom Pom

One Cut Of The Dead In Hollywood
aka Kamera o tomeru na!
supin-ofu: Hariuddo daisakusen!

Japan 2019
Directed by Yûya Nakaizumi
Third Window Films Blu Ray Zone B

Warning: Spoilers for the first film in the series.
Do not read if you haven’t seen the first one!

Okay... here we go again. I gave One Cut Of The Dead a fairly okay review when I first saw it (you can read that here, it’s spoiler free) and, when I rewatched it a few times on Blu Ray... well once you’re in on the joke it just gets better and funnier with each viewing. I was surprised that I had no idea that a short, 58 minute sequel, One Cut Of The Dead In Hollywood, directed by the assistant director of the first and with pretty much most of the cast of the original back for more, had been made until I saw it being advertised on Blu Ray via Twitter by Third Window Films. I’m guessing it might have got a cinema release over here if it weren’t for the Coronavirus outbreak last year.

So I grabbed the Blu Ray and... it’s great for people who haven’t seen the first movie as it consists of the original film, the special features for the original and the new film. The original premise of the first one... a ‘live, shot in one take zombie movie’ for the first part of the film, followed by the comedy fiction of how it came to be and all the things which go wrong and why it’s so awful, is exactly the same set up for the sequel, which also has the film within the film as a sequel to the original film within a film, if that makes sense. So we start off with a 17 minute, one take zombie short set in Hollywood and featuring loads of bloody carnage, along with all those long pauses, actors reacting to things that go wrong and, I’m happy to say, even an end shot which totally fooled me again due to a trick which, if you’re not looking out for it, you won’t see (I had to rewind the Blu Ray to ensure they actually hadn’t cheated it).

The plot is that Holly, the survivor of the first film, has dyed her hair blond and gone to work as a waitress in Hollywood, six months after the events depicted in the first half an hour or so of the first movie... only to find herself suddenly in the setting of another zombie apocalypse. It’s the same actress plus, in an ‘in camera mind flashback', we get a load of the previous cast (who also, it turns out, help with a certain aspect of the final shot of the movie within a movie) plus, in an unexpected but very energetic cameo, the ‘Pom’ lady! Of course, once that portion of the film ends and we get the comedy of what went on in the fictional behind the scenes, all these actors have much bigger parts. We also have two American actors in the film and one of these is supposed to be the American boyfriend of the main character... but he’s also the real-life (um... fictional reel life) boyfriend of the director’s daughter (again, all the behind the scenes characters are played by the original cast, augmented by some extra characters). And, although the film maybe doesn’t have quite as many laughs as the original, I remember now what I said that about the original so, I’m pretty sure this one is just going to get better with each subsequent viewing too.

One of the unusual things and unexpected pleasures in the sequel is, of course, that you are already ‘in on the joke’ (and best that way, don’t go into this one blind as you need to see the first one to get more fun out of it), so you tend to spend a lot of the first 17 minutes of the movie, trying to work out where all the mistakes and sudden unexpected script changes throughout the live broadcast are. These movies are like The Play That Goes Wrong... but with Japanese zombies. And it didn’t disappoint in that respect either. They actually pull off a couple of surprising things which I totally didn’t see coming when you see the ‘comedy explanation’ of the various things that go wrong.

The one element that’s possibly missing here is the sense of moving emotion you get at the end, which happened at the closing of the last movie, where the director is reminded of a photograph of himself and his daughter from many years in the past which directly connects to the wonderful ‘crane shot’ of the first movie (spoilers, there’s no crane!). That being said, there is a bit of heartbreak and romance in this film but, well, I won’t spoil that for you here. And it certainly doesn’t hurt the movie any either.

So, okay, short movie, short review but, I have to say, One Cut Of The Dead In Hollywood is a real cracker of a movie and fans of the first one should surely have no complaints. I would love to see this in a double bill with the first film in a cinema with a packed audience at some point... that’s a guaranteed good time for sure. This one is definitely recommended if you loved the first, as many people did but, remember, it’s not a jumping on point, you need to see the first one too. Which is why the Third Window Films Blu Ray is so good for newcomers, seeing as it has both films one there (so don’t play the main feature, move it over to the second item in the menu and watch that one first). Great film and a true joy for fans of the comedy genre.

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