Tokyo Gore Police.
We've been looking forward to this one for quite a while, even though we knew there was no way it could live up to the trailer. We finally got to see Machine Girl, which was made by a lot of the same people (the main makeup effects guy, Yoshihiro Nishimura, directed Gore Police), and awesome as it was, we said to each other 'Tokyo Gore Police will blow this away'.
But we didn't believe it, deep down. That trailer?
Nothing could live up to that trailer. Surely, all the good stuff was spoiled already. How could they top the woman with a crocodile for a vagina? Well, we're not gonna tell you how, but they do. God, do they. You need to see this.
Don't get us wrong...Tokyo Gore Police isn't an especially smart or thought provoking film. If you want a crazy Asian (crazsian) film that'll expand your mind, try Oldboy or Izo. But if you're in the mood to watch a man shoot grenades out of his huge elephant-trunk of a penis, well, here you go. Gore Police is Japan's answer to the entire Troma catalogue, without (most of) the lame gross-out comedy. Take all the scenes of people vomiting green stuff and fighting with dildos out of your average Troma movie, replace them with satiric commercials (Ala Starship Troopers and Robocop) for razors aimed at self-mutilating teens, then raise the bar on special effects, acting, and well, everything else, and you're halfway to the awesomeness of Tokyo Gore Police.
The story is set in a Judge Dredd-like future where the police force has been privatized and genetically enhanced mutants wreck havok. These mutants are called 'engineers', and any injury they sustain becomes a weapon...cut off a hand, a chainsaw grows out of the stump. A mysterious figure called Keyman inserts a key-shaped tumor (which he got from The Devil) into some part of a person's body, and that's how engineers are created. Then they start killing folks and tortured supercop Ruko chops them up into smaller and smaller pieces until she happens to destroy the tumor, and that's how engineers are uncreated. There are, of course, several twists and revelations throughout the course of the story, but the narrative's actually pretty clear, as far as crazsian movies go. Nobody flips out and becomes the embodiment of an emotion or starts backflipping through time or anything, which is a nice change of pace.
Yeah, we sound like this is the first crazsian movie we've seen, like schoolchildren giddy over seeing a hooker get cut in half for the first time. Trust us, the truly ridiculous amount of arterial spray, the brain-skewering weirdness of the mutants, and most of all the sheer creativity at work here sets this one well apart from it's peers. The music is well done, there's very little cgi (mostly just one character near the end), and each scene is more insane than the last. C'mon, can you say no to this smile?
Return to Oz
We also finally watched Return to Oz the other day. I special ordered this dvd over a year ago, and I've been really excited for it...well, the whole time. I have a tendency to put off watching things I'm really excited about until the 'perfect time' that never actually comes, which is why I haven't seen the movie adaptation of Harlan Ellison's A Boy and His Dog even though I love the short story, I've owned the movie forever, and all my friends (including Justin) have seen it. Anyway.
This is one of those weird little 'children's' movies that are really quite creepy and awesome...one we happen to have missed as kids, unfortunately. Like night-vision goggles, however, Return to Oz only gets better with age. It's sort of a sequel to the original movie, but adapted more directly from the series of books than The Wizard of Oz was, giving us a much younger Dorothy and a darker Oz. The Scarecrow, Tin Man and co. don't show up until the end (and are virtually unrecognizable from the older movie versions), replaced by a whole new cast of misfits, including freakishly tall nightmare fuel Jack Pumpkinhead (who you could almost swear was being played by Doug Jones of Abe Sapien and Pan's Labyrinth fame if you didn't know better), clockwork knight Mr. Tik Tok, and crime against nature The Gump, who is a pile of furniture and a mounted moose's head brought to unholy life through black magic. The Gump kind of awkwardly flies around for a while, desperately trying to keep his cool as his 'body' literally falls apart...kind of a more passive-aggressive Eeyore, if Eeyore was a zombie headed pile of garbage. Also, Toto shows up in the 'real world', but Dorothy's animal companion this time around is a sassy chicken named Billina.
Dorothy was Fairuza Balk's first role, and she looks 25% less creepy than we're used to seeing her. Alas, she also doesn't have any boobies, so it kind of evens out. Anyway, Dorothy isn't smart enough to shut up about her adventures in Oz, so Auntie Em pawns her off on the nearest loony bin so she can get the proper care (100,000,000 volts right through the brains). With the help of a mysterious little girl, Dorothy manages to escape during the chaos of a lightning storm, but ends up clinging to a piece of debris as a wild river whisks her away. Naturally, she wakes up in Oz, but not the Oz she remembers. The emerald city is in ruins, the yellow brick road destroyed, her friends turned to stone. Not a munchkin in sight. The city is being ruled over by the scariest evil queen ever, Mombi, who has a pretty sweet hall of interchangeable heads, so that's creepy.
Mombi is served by a legion of creatures called the Wheelers, which we couldn't find any good pictures of. When you first see the Wheelers they'll freak you out. They have wheels instead of hands or feet, and their arms are freakishly elongated so they can glide around on all fours while standing almost straight up. They are wearing masks at first, but then they take them off and kind of ruin it by just having over-acting dudes underneath. Then you realize that the dudes are kind of a bizarre mix of Pee-Wee Herman and Ace Ventura, and they get creepy again.
Mombi and her rollerblading rape-squad serve a greater force, however: The Nome King, who's more awesome than creepy, in that he's a crazy old rock man who cross-dresses on the downlow. If you haven't seen this movie, you must check it out if only to see the 'secret weapon' this guy used to bring Oz to it's knees...
The new characters are pretty obviously replacements for the earlier ones (albeit with the Wizard/Nome King switching sides), which is a little odd but also cool, kind of an 'Ultimate Oz' thing. One thing that we noticed is the characters are mostly pretty happy with themselves, as opposed to the originals who were defined by the virtues and um, body parts they were missing (heart, courage, and brain). Tik Tok expresses his satisfaction at being 'lifeless' several times, and Jack is looking for a mother figure, but never seems to blame himself for not having one handy. The Gump seems like he'd just as soon go back to being dead, but he never really laments the abject horror of his situation out loud. He does claim to be a lot happier as just a head after his body falls to pieces. Actually, all of Dorothy's friends are dead or inanimate when she finds them this time around. Man, we gotta read those books. Anyway, Return to Oz wasn't quite as dark and grim as we'd imagined from the hype, but it's certainly pretty effed up for a kid's movie, and thoroughly entertaining.
We also watched Chocolate, the new Thai martial arts film from the director of Ong-Bak and The Protector. It's about a young autistic girl who learns how to fight by watching...Ong-Bak and The Protector. It's pretty good, though it lacks a lot of the energy Tony Jaa brings to the action. Worth a look if you're hurting for some spin-kicks in your life.