Watch A Bad Movie With a Friend/The Insanity of Noboru Iguchi
It is rare that I find a person that wants to watch a schlock movie with me. I’ve got a good circle of friends but when they come over to hang out and watch a movie if I recommend something that is foreign or campy, or even better yet foreign AND campy, well needless to say they balk. Many a movie I’ve purchased has usually ended up with me watching it by myself and watching movies by myself really is the pits man. Who do I make witty repartee during the movie with? Whose face do I look at just to see a reaction from? No one that’s who and that sucks pretty hard.
My schlock of preference is Japanese Action-Comedy-Horror (otherwise known as Japanese Trash Cinema), a very niche category that to say it is has a niche is perhaps giving it too much credit. Still over the last few years there have been some pretty fun to watch, over the top Japanese comedic/horror/action hybrids. If there is one director in this sub-genre of a sub-genre whose films I adore it is those of Noboru Iguchii. Iguchi got his break directing AV films (i.e. Japanese porn) and then wrote a script titled “One-Armed Big Busty Girl”. A few rewrites later and suddenly “One-Armed Big Busty Girl” had morphed into the pseudo-classic we now know as The Machine Girl. I adore The Machine Girl mainly because there isn’t anything to hate about it. It is a standard revenge story that just happens to feature a high school girl with a machine gun for an arm as its hero. I’ve seen a lot more improbable things in mainstream Hollywood movies, y’know like The Matrix movies. Iguchi worked with special effects designer Yoshihiro Nishimura on The Machine Girl and really, for a low budget movie the 2 really hit it out of the park. I mean the movie is over the top and it seems that every racial stereotype Americans have about the Japanese gets crammed in there.
Asian School Girl in Fuku? Check!
Over The Top Violence? GIANT CHECK!
Everything right there covers all you need to know in the categories of protagonists and antagonists for this movie. It also covers what most Americans probably think every Japanese film features. Seriously, the only things I didn’t list were martial arts action and the mention of some form of sexual deviance. Man the Japanese get an awful reputation because they are actually less prudish about things and let somethings out in the open allowing for things like vending machines full of used female cotton panties. Shit that is pure capitalism right there and we give them shit for it. Shame on you closed minded Christian Society… wait… how did this become a discourse on Japanese perversion and American Puritanical values?
I’m confused now.
Seriously though, The Machine Girl is a movie that makes me smile for its sheer over the top insanity. It might just be the best Japanese B-Grade movie if not for Iguchi and Nishimura’s follow-up, RoboGeisha. Everything you need to know about this movie should be revealed by the title. This movie… lord this movie… this movie’s level of insanity tops The Machine Girl‘s level of insanity and multiplies it by the power of a million-billion suns! It is that insane, that crazy and thus that much more easy to love. Let me hit you with the actual review to get the insanity further across. A Geisha’s attendant named Yoshie and her Geisha sister Kikue are abducted by a Steel Manufacturing Company that is a front an organization that is trying to take over the world. How? By abducting up and coming Geisha and training them to be assassins! Seeing the repressed rage in Yoshie, having suffered years of abuse at Kikue’s hands, the organization turn Yoshie into their ultimate weapon/tool of death… ROBOGEISHA!
Even more bizarre is that movie is told in flashback from Yoshie’s point of view after an opening sequence where she fights 2 kunoichi in Tengu masks. The funny thing is, later on during the movie she kills the Tengu Kunoichi while telling her flashback story. So there is a little bit of confusion as to the opening sequence and the overall timeline flowing through the film. Anyway, Yoshie serves as the evil organization’s go to assassin. That is until she meets up with a group of people trying to find their missing daughters. It comes as no shock that the missing daughters were all the Geisha kidnapped by the evil organization. So how does an evil organization with designs on world conquest, via scantily clad Geisha assassinations, reprimand such an egregious violation of their chain of command?
Remember Yoshie has a sister named Kikue, who was actually a Geisha before the evil organzation realized “Yo this Yoshie chick, she’s got some serious rage issues. Let’s turn her into a cyborg for funsies!”. Kikue has no problem signing up to gain revenge on the now rogue RoboGeisha. Lord, just recapping the brain-Melting-In-A-Good-Way insanity of this movie is making me giggle like a maniac, y’know in a good way. Anyway, Yoshie fights Kikue, the Tengu Ninja fight Yoshie again (and kills them BEFORE the opening fight sequence which in the timeline takes place after he flashback narrative… sorry this is a problem that has bugged me since watching the movie) and the evil organization’s corporate headquarters turns into a giant robot to fight Yoshie who has discovered that she can turn into a tank. Lord there is so much I’m not including because the insanity level of this film is epic. Like you can’t turn away from a car wreck EPIC!
Now let’s bring this all back on point shall we?
This is a movie that, based on the title, no one would watch with me. I bought the movie, hoping I could get a group of friends together to marvel in the levels of crazy I was expecting. Not one of my friends was willing to give it a chance. Not one… and then along came Breann. Yes, Breann of the sunny smile, the most sincere person I’ve ever met. She not only wanted watch to it, she was EXCITED to watch it. It turns out Breann has a seeming love/fascination with B-Grade movies and God bless her for that. We watched the movie together one night and together we reveled in the insanity that only the Japanese could bring us. After 2 hours of truly ridiculous but awesome cinema I sat there smiling. RoboGeisha was a masterpiece. Mind you not a masterpiece in the classic sense but a masterpiece in my mind, where the greatest things man has ever created are Batman and Godzilla. And what of Breann? There were at least 2 times, if not more than that, when she squealed in delight while watching the movie and many times she would utter the phrase “Best Movie EVER!”. If you can’t trust the sincerest person in the world, who can you trust?
So now that Noboru Iguchi has made the best movie ever, how does he top himself?
Well he already went ahead and directed Mutant Girl Squad after RoboGeisha and is currently at work on 2 new projects in 2011. The first is Karate-Robo Zabogar (which turns out already was shown at The Rotterdam International Film Festival this past January), a re-imagining of a classic Japanese Tokusatsu Television show by the same name. What might be truly horrifying is that Iguchi is out to make the film family friendly. Can such a thing be possible from the man who gave us the bleeding buildings sequence of RoboGeisha or the hand-rolled finger-sushi from The Machine Girl? I mean this is also the man that made “Younger Sister Really Lewd Speech Persecution” (Actual Movie Title) and “Wives Are Often Liable To Be Done Enema!” (the mind boggles). The thought of him making a family friendly film almost horrifies me. That is almost the equivalent of Ron Jeremy directing a Disney film!
From there, Iguchi has made the next chapter in the Tomie film franchise, titled Tomie Unlimited. The Tomie series is already pretty screwed up, presenting multiple tales of a high school girl who seduces men and drives them to fight over her. Tomie keeps dying and coming back to make life crazy for some poor schlub over and over again. One can only fathom what Iguchi can do with something as crazy as the Tomie franchise. I look forward to seeing Tomie freak out and strangle people with her hair as done by Iguchi. Hopefully he keeps it as straight horror and not some sort of horror/comedy hybrid. Before the Japanese gave us Sadako from The Ring series there was Tomie and Tomie can be some really screwed up stuff when done right.
Either way Iguchi keeps hammering out these movies that are just too much fun and that is what a lot of mainstream cinema is missing these days… FUN! Fun in a truly awful way that you laugh while you say “That’s horrible”. There are fewer and fewer fun films like that these days. Thank god Noboru Iguchi is around to make some fine Trash Cinema we can all enjoy. I know I’m happy to have his level of insanity in my movie collection, you owe it to yourself if you like Trash Cinema to give his movies a look. I mean honestly, you’ve got nothing to lose, unless you don’t have a sense of humor…