Monday, 31 May 2010

Batoru Gâru Babe Slays 'Em Dead

Battle Girl
The Living Dead In Tokyo Bay
‘‘You guys are so gross’’

A meteorite spirals through the Earths stratosphere on a collision course with Tokyo Japan. With Godzilla on a break, off the back of astronomical summer blockbuster box office takings, its down to mankind to sort this one out. Mind you, just because the season is a little chilly, doesn’t give Mothra an excuse for not lending a wing !.
The inter galactic Rock hits Tokyo Bay, and if you can smell what it’s cooking you are one jabroni lovin’ horror fan that’s been waiting a very long time for this one to surface. Finally The Living Dead In Tokyo Bay has come back out, on DVD.
Okay, sure there’s some juvenile WWE Dwayne Johnson tomfoolery you just had to groan through, but it’s actually not totally misplaced. What’s this candy assed Jabroni jabbering about you ask !?, well its know your role time, and it just so comes to be that starlet Cutie Susuki was a famous female wrestler. Maybe not anywhere near as big as The Rock, but what’s a noodle compared to the might of his stroodle !?. Here though, as super suited enhanced Battle Girl, she can layeth the smack down and become the peoples champ.
When the meteorite hits, the after impact takes out buildings and people alike, killing hundreds of innocents. The after effect of the blast leaves Tokyo Bay enveloped in a dense smog, bringing darkness to the area and turning daytime into night. In come the armed special forces, replete with Michael Jackson protective face masks. They are soon entertaining a Thriller night as the very recent dead rise up as marauding Zombies.
The scientists deduce that those killed in the blast have been infected by a chemical reaction between a heavy metal, associated with the meteor rather than a sell out appearance by Kiss legend Gene Simmons, and nitrogen in the air. The combination creating what they describe as a Cosmo-Amphetamine, which integrates itself into human DNA, transforming the recent dead into Zombies. (Cautionary Note from on line seller ZomBoy: Cosmo-Amphetamine is currently not available on Ebay, and for legal reasons herewith stated allegedly never has been).
There is an electro magnetic pulse fence erected around the perimeter between Tokyo City and the Bay region. Its instantaneous and conclusive purpose is to stop anything living, or otherwise from breaking free out into Tokyo itself. The set ups effectiveness is shown in the demise of a straggling dog, who is fritzed like a Homer Simpson animation cell lit up for Christmas.

Colonel Kirihara is in control of military operations within Tokyo Bay, at least he was until he went missing. His daughter Keiko is roaming around the bay region, seeking out a contact point to take instruction from her father. She finds secure sanctuary and within receives a very recent recorded message from Colonel Kirihara. He informs her that he is heading up a rescue operation for the survivors and plans to take them across the water to an island safe haven, free from Zombie activity. He warns her of renegade military, and a faction called the Human Hunter Unit. They are Zombie soldiers, an intelligent hybrid already evolved from the immediate effects of the blast. They kill freely whether still living human or the un-dead, and they can use weapons !.
Keiko’s father Colonel Kirihara bestows upon his stoic daughter a military designed battle suit to enhance her fighting abilities, and protect her from retaliatory assault. Kitting up in the lightweight, practically impervious, super compound rubber robo warrior outfit she is ready for Action. It finds her immediately as exiting the safe room she is hit upon by one of the super Zombie soldiers. A nifty display of feet and fists from Keiko, swiftly followed by a garrotte to the throat, and a follow through beheading. A spray of Zombie blue blood gushes forth, and Battle Girl is born !.
With Colonel Kirihara off the scene Captain Fujioke has taken leadership of the military Autonomous Security Unit within the cordoned off Tokyo Bay area. He proves to be one militant psycho soldier, believing it his patriotic duty to lead Japan into a brave new world. To turn the Cosmo-Amphetamine against the rest of the planet and create an army of Japanese super Zombie soldiers. A new race of superior beings.
Within the bowels of a central conglomerate building he has set up his scientists in a laboratory, experimenting on both the living and the un-dead. What he creates is a super serum from the Cosmo-Amphetamine. When injected directly into a recently killed subject it reanimates them, infusing their genetic makeup with a cocktail that enhances them in every way.
There’s an odd mishmash of characters and themes perhaps taken inspiration of from John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1981). An organised gang of youths driving around the Bay region in a single decked fortified bus, picking off Zombies and doing a roaring trade in supplies from food to weapons, are amongst the oddities that Keiko encounters. Later in the movie, however, they team together in common alliance against the despotic Captain Fujioke and his zealot Zombies. The bus battalion refer to themselves as The Battle Kids, so it is appropriate that they eventually align with Battle Girl !.

Watching Cutie Susuki in Action as Battle Girl is worth the price of admission. Her real life wrestling ability affords her the ability to pull off some incredible moves, and most likely than not doing all of her own stunt work. At least one of the super Zombies she comes up against is clearly a fellow professional wrestler, as the two women pull off a nifty array of signature moves against each other. Amongst the more bizarre of the mutated monstrosities that Keiko has a run in with is a garish looking gargantuan, sporting a full set of sharp metal teeth and a matching steel clawed hand. Things get a little fraught towards the destructive finale and there is more than a fair smattering of blood letting, and limb lopping along the way.
Its all very silly but in an entertaining way, that with a sub seventy five minute duration delivers enough to sensibly not outstay its welcome. Battle Girl come closure has that to be continued feel about it, but although a sequel was not forthcoming it is not inconceivable in the current Japanese video shot market place, that someone will pick this up and breath new life into Battle Girl. With the glut of outrageously gory Anime styled movies being made and doing so well, what could be done with the character and the world she inhabits today is boundless. An ultra-violent, all Action live shot Anime, emblazoning Battle Girl across our screens once more, is a mighty Wrestlemania moment to die for. Now, just bring it !.

Movie Rating: 5/10
Review: Paul Cooke / Source: NTSC Region 1 DVD
Battle Girl: The Living Dead In Tokyo Bay (1991)
Director Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu
With Cutie Suzuki,Kenji Otsuki & Kera Hayase

Sunday, 16 May 2010

School's Out ... Forever

The Final

‘‘We all have a point where we can do the unimaginable’’
Rising up against their fellow taunting students, America’s angst ridden High School teens take arms… and fingers, and tongues, and other body parts, in a gruelling indictment of what is all too worryingly now less atypical of today’s troubled youth !. Picked upon, and persecuted to snapping point, teen geek Dane and his forlorn friends make a pact to turn the tables upon their egotistical and plain spiteful classmates. They intricately prepare to unleash their pent up frustrations upon their antagonistic peers at the class fancy dress party. A night time affair at a remote location, where all that lays between fun and freedom is a two mile hike through the surrounding woods. Their vehicles left at the edge of the locale and transportation to the venue provided.
As the party begins all partake of the alcoholic punch, unbeknownst to them hat it is laced with a narcoleptic potion that puts them all out cold. When the dazed students awaken they find themselves all chained together in the main room of the party parlour. One mezzanine level above them, lording it over the banister down upon them, is the small group of disgruntled pupils. All are garishly garbed in perverse fancy dress, mirroring their inner disturbed state, and identities hidden behind freakish masks. Amongst the twisted sartorial dress code are a zipper faced scarecrow and a leather masked SS officer.
Dane addresses the petrified partygoers by way of a voice distortion box, residing within the snout of his bulbous gas mask guise. Amongst his sullen soliloquy he chooses a cutting and aptly poignant sentence, ‘‘Now it’s your turn to ask, why us !?’’. What follows is Dane and his empowered geek posse calmly and collectively exacting pain and torture upon their now pitiful fellow high school students. Pleading for their precious vanity in the tortured face of souls stripped of their own dignity. These now empowered teens apply the lesson of humility to an attentive class of cowering, self obsessed charlatans. Their tools of the trade are not easel and chalk, nor notepad and pen, but bullet and gun, secateurs and cattle gun !. The shed blood of the petrified pupils the ink with which to etch the intent of their vitriolic adjudicators.
Without particular prejudice Dane freely allows his comrades at arms to inflict harm upon the flinching teens, as several are maimed and disfigured for life at the hands of their disturbingly tranquil captors. The cattle gun flails chunks of flesh from face and limb. A faux beauty face pack soon turns pretty into painful and disfiguring purgatory. Prior to this night of nastiness the evangelical Emily turns evangelist of evil, as she all too proficiently displays her panache for the art of acupuncture. Her needle is against a bullying boy who she literally goes for the throat at as she pushes needle, upon needle into his thorax region until his cries are muted !.
The overseeing Dane is so resolute in his plan of action that even the escape of one of the students out into the adjacent woods is met with disdainful mockery of the abject attempt at freedom. Even with a head start the foot fleeing youngster has no chance at all, as even the woods are set with traps, and the odds of reaching the two mile perimeter is lessened by a chasing pack of quad bike and motorcycle riding avengers.
Back at the residence of revenge Dane focuses his vehemence upon high school football jack Brad, the biggest braggart of them all, and here in the face of adversity a whimpering coward. Forced to choose between slicing off all of his own fingers or cutting those of one of his fellow female pupils, he elects self preservation. His spineless principle empowers Dane to an extreme act that leaves Brad in a state of paralysis, and those viewing most likely rigid in their comfort chairs at the sudden brutality of the assault. This is no precocious parody on prerequisite teen horror flicks, but a frightening preamble taken to the extreme as torn from the very newsreels of today’s society. Harsh and harrowing, yet at the same time absurdly evocative like a designer substance perverting the line of reality. Take in with caution, and heed its meaningful mockery of life imitating reality TV before this madness takes a true shape and form. The boundaries of desensitisation are alarmingly being torn down, and even this as a form of entertainment is far from being, The Final.

Movie Rating: 6/10
Review: Paul Cooke / Source Region 1 NTSC DVD
The Final (2010)
Director Joey Stewart
With Marc Donato, Lindsay Seidel, Travis Tedford,
Jascha Washington, Whitney Hoy, Justin Arnold,
Julin Jean, Eric Isenhower, Hunter Garner,
Mark Nutter & Preston Flagg

Monday, 3 May 2010

Monster Bugs Abound

Star Runners

‘‘We’re gonna need a lotta ammo’’
Connor Trinneer, aka Commander Trip Tucker III from Star Trek Enterprise, goes boldly into un-chartered space and ends up on a planet overrun with oversized mutant bugs. Phasers set to stun wont get the job done here, it’s heavy assed artillery and size fifty boots required to squash these ‘B’ movie beasties.

Trinneer is Tycho ‘Ty’ Johns, a galactic swashbuckling smuggler, who along with friend and fellow likeable rogue Lei Chen (James Kyson-Lee, perhaps best known for his role as Ando in the hit TV show Heroes), stay under the radar of the totalitarian planetary authorities. They wheel and deal to survive, helping those who need it along the way, avoiding conflict but more than able to stand their ground in a tight situation.
Their bodacious bravado is brought to a halt when Universal Police principal Bishop, an autocratic overlord with overtures of Darth Vader without James Earl Jones’ voice, reins in their space craft by deploying an intricate stinger trap. Cornered by a measurable fleet of Universal Police space ships in a well planned pincher movement Ty and Lei Chan have no choice but to give themselves up. They have been an irritant to Bishop for some time, but he has stretched his resources at this time to ensnare his nemesis in order to put his particular skills to use for his own nefarious gain !.

Bishop offers Ty and his cohort a way out of doing hard time penal by getting them to acquire a very special cargo of a containment crate. They are to locate and retrieve the crate, not open it, and return to Bishop as a priority. They have no choice but to accept his terms. Bishop of course ensures that the two men and their craft are well tagged in order to keep tabs on them, should they be foolish enough to make a run for it.
Ty calls upon his underground contacts for information about the ‘crate’ and any unusual activity surrounding what is clearly a hot item. Its not long before he and Lei Chan locate their commission, and of course all of the extra baggage that comes with it. Ignoring the rule of do not open the crate Tycho Johns and Lei Chan are soon baby sitting a female brought out of frozen animation. This is no ordinary young woman of course, as she just so happens to be the only living survivor of a planets extinct populace. An entire race wiped out in experimental genocide by an intent full Bishop, a couple of decades earlier.
Released from her suspended state, and coming to terms with her surroundings as well as to her two emancipators, the anxious young woman reveals her identity as Asta. It is soon clear that she is no ordinary human, but one imbued with extraordinary abilities. She is able to harness her inner strength to generate an energy powerful enough to expel from her very being, and hone as a directional weapon of pure energy with directional force. An exceptional being and a highly prized asset to interested parties aware of her existence. Those interested parties being Bishop and the rebel forces, and with Pandora’s ‘crate’ now opened Ty and Lei Chan make a desperate space flight for freedom. They board a passenger flight, but are soon fired upon and the captain of the ship is killed. Time for Tycho Johns to take the helm !.
Ty’s vaunted skill as a pilot affords him, Chan, and their new found super chick passenger Asta, a head start but one that is doomed to eventual failure due to the overwhelming class of spacecraft pursuing them. Ty takes a great risk to gain further advantage and hit’s the hyper space jump button in un-chartered space. What waits on the other side of the jump is a freefall into the gravitational pull of a mysterious planet. Surviving the crash Ty and companions, along with a handful of fellow passengers, gather themselves and head towards a complex on the horizon. As they seek out shelter, behind them the bodies of those who did not survive the crash become food for the planets non human inhabitants !.
Hold back the grin of anticipation, call upon the Sci Fi hand book of many a great TV series, and sign up to the Starship Troopers (1997) ethos of entomology, ‘cause its time for Gunfight At The Big Bug Corral. Yes indeedy, good old Connor Trineer didn’t spend all that time on the Enterprise dreaming of being a star blazing buccaneering hero to turn down the opportunity to kick alien butt, head on here. Within the under belly of the complex its off world experimental central and natures itty bitty bugs have become monstrous atrocities, the size of small animals, but un-reliant on humans to hand feed them but rather feeding upon them !. These critters are fast, furious and nifty at removing human heads with their over sized pincers and incisors. Keep your eyes peeled and whatever you do don’t look up as these scuttling beasties are like Spider Man without the costume. They tear through the lower end credit cast like Freddy Krueger frantically wet wiping after a spicy Mexican. This is a meal deal that the monstrous munchers don’t get too often, with visitors at a premium.
Bug busting aid comes in the form of pursuing rebels, forming an uneasy alliance with team Tycho against the leggy legion of creatures. Big guns and bullish bravado bleed out as frequently as the mounting corpses, with Ty laying down the law with the aptly phrased dialogue, ‘‘You point a gun at me again, bugs will be the least of your problems’’. Freedom fighters, fortune seekers, pernicious profiteers, gung ho savants and carnivorous bugs collide in a glorious SyFy Channel showdown. It’s a big step up from the usual run of the mill fare churned out for TV. The effects are good and the bugs are very well done. There’s ample splurges of blood letting and the lead cast are giving their all in what clearly was a fun production to turn up for work on. In collaboration with UFO (Unified Film Organisation) the Sci Fi Channel has delivered a bug blast of movie enjoyment. Good to see UFO head honcho Phillip J. Roth amongst the roster as one of the films producers. He has been delivering solid entertainment value in the Action / Sci Fi genres for many accomplished years now and Star Runners is testament to that.
Seek this one out then fellow Sci Fi citizens for a bug fest frenzy that’s out of this world.

Movie Rating: 6/10
Review: Paul Cooke / Source SyFy Channel
Star Runners (2009)
Director Mat King
With Connor Trinneer, James Kyson-Lee,
Toni Trucks, Aja Evans,
Velizar Beniv & Michael Culkin