You know, I’ve been sitting here for the past half hour trying to come up with how to approach reviewing this movie. What I have come to is that no matter what I write, I will not be able to do this film justice, nor will I be able to adequately convey just how bizarre this movie is. I first heard about it almost a year ago in a Doogan’s Views column at The Digital Bits. It also had reviews of Versus, which I have also tracked down, and may review at some point, and Junk, which I am still tracking down. The theme of the column: Zombies.
I guess I should start with an overview of the plot. There are a few points here, one is setting, and the other being the various stories that are tied together. In the near future girls between the ages of 15-17, from all over the world, begin dying. Just before death, they are afflicted with something called Near Death Happiness, or NDH. Shortly after dying, they return as flesh eating zombies, nicknamed Stacies. It appears this has been going on for a number of years as there are mentions of the world’s population dropping drastically, and also that the UN is involved. There are troops charged with making sure the Stacies die and stay dead, they are called the Romero Repeat Kill Squad. There are other points to this, but I want you to see the movie, and if this hasn’t piqued your interest, I’m not sure what will. Back to the story at hand, there are a few threads at play here. The most interesting may be the relationship between Shibu and Eiko, Eiko is a teenage girl in the early throes of NDH who has chosen Shibu as the man to repeat kill her. They spend a lot of time together leading to the end, but I dare not reveal more. Another thread involves a scientist experimenting on Stacies to see what makes them tick, with him are members of the Romero Repeat Kill Squad, but have their own reasons for being there. Lastly there are the Drew Illegal Repeat Kill Squad, which is a team of teenage girls trying to raise money to pay a pop star to be their repeat killer.
This is one bizarre film, a twisted love story, a gore film, an action film, it mixes various styles into itself. I can say that I liked, although I have no idea what it is trying to say, it will probably take a few more viewings. I mean a lot can be inferred from the strange ending, but I want to absorb it a bit more before trying to decipher it. The relationships are interesting, the characters are nicely defined, for what appears to be a direct to video affair, although I am not sure of that status. There are some excellent gore effects throughout, limbs severed, heads blown apart, blood spraying around. All this and a story that seems to be making a commentary on society, especially with the ending, for good measure.
Take Japanese schoolgirls, turn them into head lolling, twitching, flesh craving zombies, add UN backed kill squads, a pinch of doomed romance, toss in liberal dose of gore, a touch of mad scientist, a puppet show, and more American zombie references than you can shake a stick at, and your getting close to Stacy. The best part would have to be a commercial early in the film for the home chainsaw, perfect for repeat kills, what might this be called you ask? Why it’s the Bruce Campbell Right Hand 2 (misspelled Blues Campbell on the blade)! Any zombie fan should check this out.
Video. This was not shot on film, it was a direct to digital project. Being so, it has a very crisp look, no film grain at all. I was a little shaken to see this, wasn’t expecting this look, but it works very well for the film and it is reproduced nicely here. It is an anamorphic transfer, and it looks very good, just a touch of softness here and there.
Audio. We get the original Japanese language track, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. It is a good mix, there aren’t a lot of audio effects so surround probably wasn’t needed, although it would have been nice. It is always clear, and the subtitles are well written and easy to read.
Extras. Pretty much non-existent except for a trailer. A featurette or cultural commentary would have been nice. But I’m really just happy with a good transfer.
Bottom Line. A unique setup to what could have been just another gore film adds a bit of credibility to this oddity. At the same time providing a primarily personal story with just a couple of main characters, while giving a scope encompassing the world, it is a lot more ambitious than I would have given it credit for. A nice crisp digital look sets it apart from the film counterparts. Underpinnings of lost love, and wonder about the future buoy the action and gore with a certain sweetness. I can definitely say I liked this movie and consider it a worthy addition to my zombie/horror film collection.