Throwing up an assortment of depravity and blood-drenched insanity into a film always makes for good fun, but never makes up for a lack of plot, lazy writing or poorly-executed film-making, a few key problems that permeate through many of these gory, low-budget efforts. These are all issues readily apparent in The Machine Girl, a prior similar undertaking which, for all its excessive gore and dismemberment, was at its core really nothing much different than most substandard Hollywood fare. Here, directors Yoshihiro Nishimura (who tread similar ground with Tokyo Gore Police) and Naoyuki Tomomatsu have crafted both an emotionally-charged teen love story and a hilarious satire of popular trends, the film elevated by the over-the-top absurdities rather than reliant on them. High-school heart throb Mizushima finds himself in the center of a vicious tug-of-war between two lovers: Keiko, his high-maintenance girlfriend whose spineless vice-principal daddy bows to her every demand, and Monami, a new student in the school who falls for Mizushima's kind personality...and who also happens to be a vampire. Of course, when the two girls get into a feud, Keiko is no match for the supernatural Monami and is killed. However, Keiko's father moonlights as a mad scientist and he reanimates Keiko, upgrading her with a variety of different physical attributes swiped from corpses. Now, the Vampire Girl and the Frankenstein Girl find themselves facing off in a battle to the death for Mizushima's affection.
There are a plethora of outlandish gags to please any hardened gore-fan. Among the best are the Vampire Girl tearing a hole in a girls face and unraveling her skin like the wrappings on a mummy, a reanimated foot-hand creature, blood drops with a life of their own and the Frankenstein Girl tearing off an arm, screwing it onto her head and using it as a helicopter propeller to zip around through the sky. This is the love-child of a three-way between Looney Tunes, an early Peter Jackson film and a Troma movie. Nary two minutes go by where someone's head isn't being crushed in or where some appendage isn't being attached to some other ludicrous concoction. It is amazingly fun, completely original and absolutely never dull. Even those who don't enjoy the film, possibly too much for their tastes, will likely be enthralled by the madcap display enfolding in front of them.
However, it's when the film steps back from the lunacy that it's at its best. The characters at their best, particularly Monami and Mizushima, are surprisingly fleshed out, likable and quite funny; at their worst, over-the-top caricatures that are usually funny and always interesting. There are a lot of laughs mined from the absurd notion of falling in love with a vampire, as well as the battle being waged for Mizushima, the tone always light and self-deprecating; one comical part has Mizushima proclaiming, as he narrates the battle, something along the lines of "Has anyone ever asked my feelings about this", which sums up the ridiculousness of the obvious lapses of logic that allow the fight, and pretty much the entire film, to occur. Perhaps the funniest scenes involve those lampooning current teenage trends. The "emo's" are part of an after-school wrist cutting club. The trend of imitating black culture is taken to absurd limits with a trio of girls not only in black face, but with afros, over-sized lips and the refusal to drink any coffee but black. Not only isn't there a boring minute, but there isn't one that's not either laugh-out-loud hilarious or just plain crazy.
The only shortcomings are the occasional limitations of the low-budget paired with the wide scope of the films imaginative dismemberment. Some of the effects, although most often not, are poorly executed. As well, the arterial spray of blood throughout the film is less than satisfying due to the reliance on CGI effects, which look both incredibly cheap and silly (in a bad way). The entire film also carries a somewhat cheap vibe to it, which leads me to believe it was either digital video or inefficiency behind the camera. Regardless, these are small prices to pay for the amount of imaginative fun and hilarious splatter that Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl delivers, making it one of the better exercises in this type of frenetic insanity that so often falls on the wayside.
- Dylan, allhorrorfilms.com