In terms of self-explanatory titles the latest blood-soaked comedy splatter fest from Tokyo Gore Police director, Yoshihro Nishimura, ranks pretty high on the list: take one Japanese high school girl with a thirst for blood and pit her against a dead schoolgirl who has been brought back to life by her mad scientist father and let battle commence.
The film kicks off with the titular Vampire Girl, aka Monami, kicking the ass of three undead girls and collecting their skulls, the best friends of love rival Keiko, before flashing back to the events that led up to this violent standoff. It’s Valentine’s Day and in Japan schoolgirls show their romantic intent by giving boys chocolate. Monami gives the school heartthrob, Mizushima, a chocolate filled with her own blood, thus partially turning him into a vampire so he can become her new familiar. Unfortunately, Mizushima already has a girlfriend, the class bully, Keiko. That’s not a problem for Monami, who simply removes her opponent by pushing her off the school’s roof, but she hasn’t factored in Keiko’s science teacher father, who, with the aid of the school’s sadistic nurse, has been conducting weird experiments on their classmates in a secret laboratory in the campus’ basement. Before you know it, Keiko has been reanimated and it’s ding-ding, round one!
If the story sounds insane, just wait until you meet some of the other characters: there’s a group of suicidal school girls, who repeatedly take a knife to their forearms to toughen them up for a wrist-slashing contest, and another group called the ganguro, who so badly want to be black they have dyed their skin and surgically altered their features. Although mocking Japanese teenagers’ obsession with black culture, the latter is also cringingly racist and it’s clear that the film-makers want to push the audience’s offense thresholds by more than just showcasing extreme gore, of which there is plenty too.
Nishimura proved with Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl (where he was effects supervisor) that he knows how to capture onscreen viscera, but if anything Vampire Girl pushes this even further. Japanese cinema has long been the king of the blood spray – courtesy of a gory catalogue of limb-lopping samurai flicks – and Vampire Girl takes this affectation to a new level with almost every scene awash in buckets of dyed red corn syrup. However, unlike the gore flicks coming out of the west, Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s film, which is based on Shungiku Uchida’s manga comic book, is distinctly played for laughs. It’s certainly not for the fainthearted – haemophobics steer well clear – but the bloodletting is so over the top it’s impossible not to find it more sidesplitting than stomach-churning.
If you have not seen any of Nishimura’s work before the film is sure to shock, but if you can forgive the movie its shortcomings, and there are plenty of them, Vampire Girl is a ridiculous hour and a half of gaudy gross out splatstick comedy. Essentially, if the idea of an undead teenager removing their own legs and attaching them to their head to create a gruesome Inspector Gadget-style propeller makes you laugh rather than hurl then Vampire Girl will be a hugely entertaining watch.
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