Written by Caballero Oscuro
Ah, Japan: last bastion of truly gonzo gorefests. The latest bizarro flick to wash up on our shores is the instantly descriptive Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. Yes, with a self-explanatory title like that there’s little point in reviewing the plot, so let’s get right into the creative ways the directors cooked up the film’s increasingly insane and hilarious comic mutilation.
The movie starts on a high point with Vampire Girl (Yukie Kawamura) facing off against a trio of undead schoolgirls where she skins one of their skulls like she was peeling an orange, then throws it at zombie #2 where it proceeds to latch onto its nose and somehow slowly pulls the skin completely off its head while levitating in mid-air. Zombie #3 eventually ends up skinned as well, leaving Vampire Girl with a neat stack of skulls for a nice foot stomp. And that’s just the opening scene. By the movie’s end, we’ve witnessed Frankenstein Girl (Eri Otoguro) removing one of her own arms to install it on her head as a helicopter rotor, an epic showdown atop and all over Tokyo Tower, and the introduction of innovative vampire powers such as sentient blood that seeks out human hosts and also solidifies into deadly arm blades at will.
Most of the action takes place at a typical Japanese high school, with its requisite girl clubs pumped up to the most extreme of fringe groups that act as warring cliques. The loli-goth club is the most normal, although Frankenstein Girl is eventually created from its deceased leader. The wrist-cutter club is a not at all subtle poke at the teen suicide and self-mutilation subculture, with the girls meeting solely to practice their wrist-slashing techniques together. And then there’s the tanning club, the most patently racist thing in a movie in probably the last 50 years unless you understand the culture (and possibly even if you do). These girls take their desire to be black to the furthest extremes, with the darkest tans, huge (and I mean huge) noses and lips, afros, and attire. If Oprah ever gets a whiff of this movie, it will be permanently banned in the U.S.
When the school’s resident mad scientist learns of the special powers of Vampire Girl’s blood and finds the host body for Frankenstein Girl, he goes on a whirlwind killing spree to enhance his creation with the best of the school clubs, namely the extremely strong arms of the wrist-cutter-club girls and the athletic legs of the tanning-club girls. There’s also a sex-crazed school nurse and a hellish sumo wrestler along for the ride, as well as an innocent boy student who becomes the object of Vampire Girl’s affections, but for the most part the film is all about the Japanese school girls. It’s wildly creative, well-paced, and ultimately one of the better entries in this peculiar genre to come along in the last few years.
The movie was very loosely based on a comic book of the same name, although apparently the stars never face off against each other in the book. The co-directors liked the comic book cover image and title and basically made everything else up themselves. Those directors are separately famous for such cinematic landmarks as Tokyo Gore Police (Yoshihiro Nishimura) and Zombie Self-Defense Force (Naoyuki Tomomatsu), so they’re operating well within their comfort zones this time around.
Surprisingly, the image quality of this low-budget effort is quite good on Blu-ray, although it maxes out at 1080i instead of 1080p. For a few extra dollars, it’s worth the bump up in quality from DVD. The sound mix is nothing special, but the subs are well done. The extras include footage of a Q&A session with the directors and stars at a theatrical screening, as well as a couple of brief behind the scenes featurettes.
Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, just in time for your Halloween viewing needs.