Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl -- Film Review


Bottom Line: A "Twilight" for kinky adults with an appetite for gushing gore, Japanese schoolgirls and proudly politically incorrect humor.

BUCHEON, South Korea -- "Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl" is "Twilight" for kinky adults with an appetite for gushing gore, Japanese schoolgirls and proudly politically incorrect humor. Co-helmed by Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu, this funky, gothic send-up of cutesy high school romances has even less pretensions to meaning or consistent style than "Tokyo Gore Police" and "The Machine Girl" -- cult splatter action-horrors to which Nishimura contributed.

The title gives away the crude plot in a nutshell. None of this would deter fans of Japanese genre films though, as long as the camp quotient remains high, and effects continue to amaze for their twisted inventiveness.

Given "Vampire Girl's" entertainment value, Nishimura's rising cult status as a gore effects guru and Tomomatsu's resume of B-horrors, it is no surprise that more than 20 festivals have hungered for a screening slot. DVD distributors should be on the alert.

What's a wimpy, foppish high school lad to do if he is fought over by two strong-willed girls? In the case of Jyugon Mizushima (Takumi Saitoh), he goes with the flow... of his veins. When cute transfer student Monami (Yukie Kawamura) arrives wearing a cape, with servant Igor waddling in tow, she falls for Mizushima and feeds him a chocolate on Valentine's Day. Alas, its filling is a fondant of Monami's own vampire blood. In the film's most imaginative visual, Mizushima reacts by seeing humans as mere configurations of throbbing arteries.

Before Mizushima can cope with his new bloodlust, Amazonian Keiko (Elly Otoguro) barges in, claiming he has been spoken for. She dies in a tussle, but comes back as invincible Frankenstein Girl with the help of her chemistry teacher dad (Kanji Tsuda).

While "Tokyo Gore" contains trenchant political satire, "Vampire Girl" only dabbles in silly lampoons of Japanese youth fads with girls who take their wrist-cutting to an intercollegiate competitive level, and "ganguro" girls who make themselves up to look like golliwogs in misfired worship of African-American culture. Equally un-PC, but funny nonetheless, "The Grudge" director Takashi Shimizu delivers a cameo as a Chinese teacher with a lung-full of toxic exhaust fumes (a dig at China's pollution problems).

Despite claims of a higher budget used than "Tokyo Gore Police," production quality looks a little shoddy. HD camerawork is also sloppy in certain scenes, such as the definitive duel between Monami and Keiko atop Tokyo Tower, or the sword fight between Monami's mother (Eihi Shiina). Visuals sometimes become monotonous, with blood spraying and blurring the frame like a garden sprinkler. Creature designs are jaw-dropping.

Venue: Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival
Sales: Eleven Arts, Inc.
Production: Pony Canyon Concept Films presents an Excellent Films production
Cast: Yukie Kawamura, Takumi Saitoh, Elly Otoguro, Kanji Tsuda, Eihi Shiina
Directors: Naoyuki Tomomatsu, Yoshihiro Nishimura
Screenwriter: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Based on the manga by: Shungicu Uchida
Producers: Yosuke Miyake, Tsugio Oiikawa, Hidehiro Ito
Executive producer: Shuji Omata
Director of photography: Shu G. Momose
Production designer: Nori Fukuda
Music: Blood-Stained Fellow
Costume designer: Hiroko Miyata
Editor: Yoshihiro Nishimura
No rating, 85 minutes