Wednesday, June 12, 2013


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! If the zombie apocalypse is like anything I've seen in a Japanese zombie film then we are all fucked!

Helldriver -3 out of 5

I always tip my hat to the Japanese and their really fucked up movies. Even the strangest film that Hollywood will churn out in the States is incapable of holding a candle to the truly “What the FUCK?” caliber that Japan shoots out on a regular basis. And they never get more out-there than their zombie films.

This is the closest thing I could find in the entire film that resembled a shot
of normalcy.  There's probably a headless zombie humping a matchbox
car just out of shot just waiting to jump into view.

When you hear the phrase "Zombie Queen, universally
this is what we all pictured.  Admit it.
 Helldriver is about a young girl Kika (Yumiko Hara) that is stuck in an abusive home with her mother Rikka (Eihi Shiina) and her uncle—did I mention that her mother and uncle are insane killers wanted by the cops? Because they totally are. Anyway, one day, a mysterious meteor comes rocking into our atmosphere and spears itself straight through Rikka—forcing the woman to take Kika’s heart to replace her own that was just lost to the space rock—and yes, you read that right in that sentence. Without warning, the meteorite ends up infecting Rikka and unleashing a deadly cloud of ash that turns anyone who breathes it into a vicious zombie-like creature with a hunger for human flesh—so not so zombie-like and more zombie-totally-are. 

With the country being overwhelmed, the government puts up a wall that extends from shore to shore with the remnants of human society on one side and space-spawned nefarious freaks on the other. During these sad times for the survivors, the government locates Kika—who was frozen in an amber-like substance thanks to the meteor (and yes, you read that one correctly, too)—and wishes to use her to kill the “zombie queen,” Kika’s mother. So, they equip her with a motor on her chest to replace her heart and arm her with a chainsaw sword—yes, a chainsaw sword, anyone who just read that just went through puberty and if you already went through puberty you just went through mega-puberty and your voice is even deeper, your chest hairier and a porn star mustache that will be the envy of all porn star mustaches just spontaneously erupted above your upper lip.  To the ladies, I'm sorry you read that and hope you can now cope with your 'stache and hairy chest...the deep voice might be kind of sexy though.

You'll need that extra puberty in order to witness the zombie-car without
weeping uncontrollably.

I really enjoy watching Japanese zombie movies but like heroin and eating cake there has to be some limits because if I watch them too often I could overdose—or gain weight and get diabetes (I’m kinda confused on my metaphor here). Japanese zombie movies are fun to watch because they are all the joys of having a drug trip without the withdrawal at the end—I’ll be honest, the craving to watch another when one is finished isn’t that strong, so while they are fun to experience, they are not addicting in my world. The biggest problem I have with them, and this applies to any Japanese movie that firmly plants itself in the “What the hell did I just watch?” category (like Battlefield Baseball, Tokyo Gore Police and RoboGeisha) is that while they open up with a whole host of strange sights and unique storytelling as they show us something that we’ll never have here in the States, by the time they come to their end, their novelty wears off and the strangeness stops being fresh and exciting and they become grating and annoying to watch as it feels like they are just pulling at straws trying to come up with the next strange thing.

For extra fun, watch it with the subtitles turned off and try to keep your head
from exploding with the barrage of insane imagery.

However, for the most part, Helldriver didn’t have that. While the film did keep getting weirder and more “Seriously, what the fuck am I watching?” as it progressed (like the movie culminates with the Zombie Queen creating a battle-mech-like structure out of her zombie army), it never gets too strange…and “too strange” is a phrase I don’t think has ever been uttered on the set of a Japanese film…or any of their entertainment experiences like video games and cartoons.  And, of course, I need to qualify that "too strange" is a relative term here.

For some reason, this seems like it would be normal in Japan.

Kika finds no joy in killing zombies with a
chainsaw sword.  Making her the only person in existence
to feel that way.
 Helldriver is pretty fun to watch—as long as you are expecting complete insanity. If you are looking for a realistic story, strong plot, compelling acting and emotionally rich characters, you are going to be sorely disappointed. The story on this one fits with the model of insanity the film is offering up to you on a platter of toe-nail clippings, snippets of pubic hair and any other item to help illustrate how strange and certifiably nuts the movie is. The acting will run the range of being gorged on scenery, passable and actors who look like they have no idea where they are. Finally, the characters…well, they don’t really have any development going on in them and any background given to them seems almost accidental. But at least some of them look cool.

If only we all had an exploding sky behind us to make us look cool.

Yes, she's swinging a zombie fetus but she looks
so happy doing it!
 The real selling point to this film (after just how absolutely crazy it is) is the zombies. First off, the make-up is done quite well and no two zombies look alike or are even remotely similar. When there’s a horde, you can almost make out each and every single zombie and find defining features that make them unique from the rest. There’s a handful that are clearly the “star zombies” and meant to stand out more than the faceless horde (but that’s a given here in a Japanese zombie movie). In that aspect, Helldriver doesn’t disappoint as you get a zombie that has katana swords sticking out of every possible point in his skin, ones that have their spines sticking out of their neck like Scorpion quit halfway through a fatality and their heads are sitting up in the air like a flesh-composed periscope, a geisha girl using a fetus (with umbilical cord connected) as a weapon and one that is made nearly entirely of arms—that last one, by the way, was played by one of those actors who was on the far side of the acting spectrum and hung out, with heavy amounts of ham and cheese, in the overacting part in this film.

If you listen closely, you can hear my groan of annoyance over this zombie's
overacting.  Yes, it was so bad that my voice was permanently burned to the film's
audio track.

Pyramid-head's cousin; Half-Moon-Head, in his first
acting role. 
 Helldriver is pretty damn entertaining to sit through as long as you know what you’re getting into—pretty much like any “I’m not joking, people! What the hell kind of pants-shittingly insane movie did I just watch?” Japanese film. Some of the special effects can be a little on the iffy side and a lot of the acting can, at times, be really unbearable (especially the uncle character) but things like really bad acting and special effects that look dated for a 2010 film and come off like something done with an off-the-bargain-shelf editing and F/X software bundle from Best Buy only assist in making this movie even stranger…and being strange is the main—probably only—reason to watch this movie. Because where else are you going to see a movie where a pickup truck has a sword fight with a zombie?

Yes, this really happened.

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