There is something endearing about a film that wears its influences as openly as Stacy does. There are several nods to George A. Romero, a very cool homage to the Evil Dead franchise with a running gag about a "Bruce Campbell" chainsaw and even a random shout out to Drew Barrymore with a Charlie's Angel-esquire kill squad who name Drew as their idol. The director is obviously well schooled in the horror genre, providing an entertaining mix of pop culture references, black humour and bloody carnage.
The film's basic premise is that girls between the ages of 15 and 17 begin dropping dead, only to arise as flesh hungry zombies - known as "stacies". There is no explanation or mythology behind this unusual turn of events, although I assume it is simply an excuse to fill the screen with perky Japanese girls in school uniforms. There is something a bit twisted about a film that basically involves the slaying of school girls but I'm not complaining. In order to eradicate the "stacies", death squads roam the streets. Some of the funniest moments come from TV advertisements for the death squads, my favourites include the "Join the Squad and kill your own daughter!" advertisement and the Bruce Campbell chainsaw infomercial with the crazy bunny woman.
The film follows two distinct plots; one involves a medical student who has joined a death squad with the goal of saving his "pen pal" Momo, while the other is a slightly disturbing romance between a middle aged puppeteer, Shibu-san, and Eiko, a girl in the final days of her pre-zombie state. The first mentioned storyline is responsible for the film's gore content. There are sufficient acts of dismemberment, flesh eating and general carnage to please horror fans. Unfortunately, while the quantity of the gore is impressive, the quality of the gore effects is uneven at best. The decapitations are very unrealistic and one axe victim is quite clearly a mannequin. The film manages to overcome these shortcomings with injections of black humour, from the awesome "Drew" death squad to our hero declaring the zombified Momo as "my lover".
The other plot line is less entertaining but far more innovative. The scene in which Shibu-san uses puppetry to tell Eiko a story about a toy cat is mesmerising. There is also a wide underbelly of black humour derived from Eiko's manic pleas to be "repeat killed" and her most thoughtful chainsaw gift. Natsuki Kato does a great job as Eiko, making her a very sympathetic prospective zombie. The film attempts to tie these two story lines together with a cheesy conclusion but personally, I could have done without the sappy epilogue.
Stacy is an enjoyable zombie film from a promising director. Genre fans familiar with the quirks of Asian cinema will not be disappointed.
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