Saturday, March 20, 2010

Zombie Self-Defense Force

Zombie Self-Defense Force is the first of Naoyuki Tomomatsu's trio of zombie productions. I've had this movie for probably six months before I actually got around to watching it, but now that I have I think I just might be intrigued enough to look into those other two. That's not to say that it's a great film (it's not), but in this case I think that this trainwreck turned out to be hilarious enough for repeat viewings, from several angles.

The movie starts out with a ridiculous CGI spaceship being seen over Fujiyama, Japan. After a drawn out display of every single Japanese citizen's reactions to the U.F.O. the thing crashes, bathing the surrounding landscape in an electric green light.

As luck would have it, the Kibara platoon of the Japanese Self-Defense Force is in the forest already, on a "routine mission."

When we meet them they're just arriving at a corpse hanging from a tree. They see the spaceship, but decide to take care of the body before heading out to the crash site. While they're digging a grave for her, the dead woman suddenly springs back to life as a green-skinned zombie.

Also we find out the forest is haunted by ghost soldiers...

Wow. Things are really picking up fast now, and it hardly ever slows down again. We get one ridiculously gory gag after another as we plod along a truly skeletal plot. Essentially if you were to take zombies, aliens, ghosts, robots, and volcano eruptions (and the rest of this post's tag list), and come up with some ridiculous way to string them all together and throw them on screen in the span of 45 minutes or so, then you'd pretty much have the plot of Zombie Self-Defense Force... so long as you sprinkled in a healthy dose of sword fighting and arterial spray. With that being said, this isn't exactly a plot-driven movie anyway. As a cheap romp through a sequence of sight-gags and gore effects, this is actually pretty entertaining.

It's most easily compared to the scores of Troma films that follow about the same formula. While I personally don't mind some of Troma's more self-indulgent melon-crushing escapades, the quality bar's not set very high on a lot of those, and that's about what I was expecting going into Zombie Self-Defense Force. To my surprise, this actually turned out to actually be better than a lot of the Troma stuff.

Here are some of the high points:

Long, weird, but interesting opening propaganda spiel about why the U.S. government and its military actions are bad, but hamburgers and George Romero are good.

A flying zombie fetus that explodes from the womb of a dead, but pregnant, zombie...

... which then immediately lassos the innkeeper with his umbilical cord and goes Blanka on the innkeeper's face.

We eventually meet the aliens that are causing all of these problems... this is what they look like. As it turns out they're not built for dealing with robots + swords.

The final showdown between robot-lady and ghost-man. Same as all the other fights, but with even more sparks and hilariously inappropriate sound-effects than usual to indicate how epic it is.

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