For anyone who has seen Peter Jackon’s mental 1992 splat-fest Braindead, you would think there was really nowhere else to go in terms of full on gore with black comedy mixed in. However in recent years our Asian cousins over in Japan have been setting a new bar with regards to this type of film, in completely over the top, crazy, innovative and gore soaked comedy/horror cinema. Inspired by a manga/ comic book style of filmmaking where anything is possible these movies really have to be seen to be believed.
Extreme themes and imagery are not a new thing in Japanese cinema, however with the rise of CGI technology Japanese directors are putting this to good use to put their no holes barred and completely OTT visions onto the screen. I am not a great fan of CGI in general however when it is used this way I find it perfectly acceptable as there is a reason for it’s use. That said there is also enormous scope in these movies for plenty of old school splatter techiniques and far out costumes.These films make absolutely no attempt to ground anything in reality and that is what makes them so fun, everything is larger than life and unbelievable. They are presented in a fantasy comic book slapstick style which is geared up for maximum gross out gore and laughs. It is interesting that only J-splatter cinema is able to get away with this blatant exploitation of technology in a credible way, although admittedly I have not seen anything to rival this type of madness in Western cinema for a true comparison. What I have always admired greatly about Asian cinema is its unpredictability, watching any one of the movies featured in this article you have no idea where it will end up. There is no set format for plot development in the case of J-splatstick and that is something extremely refreshing.
In modern times with the sad decline of originality mainstream Western horror cinema Asia is shining out like a beacon and reinventing the genre. Not just in the domain of splatter, you only have to look at how many of the J-horror ghost films have been remade in Hollywood, and with countries like Korea also getting involved it is a fantastic time to be a fan of these films. Where will it all end? Knowing the Japanese it is anyones guess, but you know it will be somewhere no one else has dared to go before!
Ichi The Killer (2001)
Director Takashi Miike is not known for his restraint when it comes to depicting controversial themes and Ichi The Killer is no exception. This movie epitomises everything I love about J-cinema in general. Based on a manga and following the exploits of unwitting killer Ichi and the wicked web of the Yakuza characters who pursue him, this movie literally blew my mind when I first viewed it soon after its release. So much so is the strength of the themes that Norway and Germany banned the film in its uncut form, and Malaysia banned it outright. A movie which mixes cruelty, sadism and black humour in copious amounts it is a shining example of the J-Splatter genre.
Highlights: Tongue severing, man strung up by hooks tortured and covered in boiling oil, ripped off face sliding down wall, man stuffed inside TV set with a face full of chopsticks.
Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
Yoshihiro Nishimura is a name synonymous with Japanese gore effects and cinema. In this 2008 offering he puts his talent to good use bringing a post apocalyptic vision to screen in all out bonkers effect as both the writer and director. Tackling the theme of genetic engineering and mutants in a futuristic and heavily militarised Japan, Tokyo Gore Police is a completely bizarre spectacle to behold.
Highlights: Mutant snail woman, mutant slave on knife legs, man gets chewed up by an alligator girl, rocket samurai, cock cannon!
The Machine Girl (2008)
This release features the effects of Yoshihiro Nishimura Tokyo Gore Police, and is directed by once adult entertainment director Noboru Iguchi (who is also responsible for the ABCs of Death ‘F’ is for Fart segment). Consequently Noboru Iguchi has made quite a name in Japanese gore and like his contemporaries is not afraid to hold back on how he portrays his stories. The Machine Girl is a gritty story of revenge which twins uncomfortable themes such as murder and rape with laugh out loud over the top gore effects. Although could we expect anything else in a movie in which the main heroine packs a machine gun for a limb?
Highlights: Machine gun limb, Chainsaw leg, attacked by drill bra, man decapitated by a flying gullotine.
Just when you thought you had seen it all Yoshihiro Nishimura landed this marvellous piece of WTF?! in our laps. A completely original spin on the zombie theme Helldriver features a very different view of Japan overrun by zombies who carry a banana skin shaped appendage on their foreheads which contains a drug to be farmed.
Highlights: Mass zombie warrior/rocket, Swastika branding, zombie with baby sized limbs sticking out of it’s face, zombie brain eating orgy, boob eating zombies.
Meatball Machine (2005)
Director Yūdai Yamaguchi who wrote the script for action/ horror Versus (2000) brings new meaning to ‘invasion of the body snatchers’ when alien bugs infiltrate human bodies and fashion them into lifesized weapons. Spectacular gore effects again by Yoshihiro Nishimura in this all out bio mechanical splatterhouse which pays homage to the legendary cyberpunk oddity Tetsuo (1989)
Highlights: drill arm, tentacle rape, eyeball drilling, alien parasite body pilots, rocket launching limbs, cannibal aliens.
So there you have our top five films, but other titles worth checking out are:
Samurai Princess (2009)
Big Tits Zombie (2010)
Mutant Girl Squad (2010)
Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl (2009)
Gothic & Lolita Psycho (2010)