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The Strange Things Boutique




Blu-ray / DVD. Bounty Films

HelldriverFrom Yoshihiro Nishimura, the demented director of Tokyo Gore Police and Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, comes another slice of high-octane lunacy. Don’t let the somewhat sedate title fool you – Helldriver is as demented a film as you’ll ever see and thunders away at full throttle throughout, barely pausing for air or story development.

When I first saw this film at Mayhem, I confess I had to leave the cinema – not because it was a bad movie – far from it – but simply because as a late night screening during a packed weekend of viewing and drinking, it just felt too much to take. Watching it again in the comfort of my home, it was much easier to absorb.

Like the other Nishimura films, Helldriver is more heavily plot-driven that it seems, as we follow schoolgirl Kika (Yukimo Hara) from her life with a serial killing mother and uncle, through a mutant zombie apocalypse and into action as a vengeance-crazed, chainsaw-weilding vigilante with an artificial heart (after her mother snatched her real heart from her chest). With Japan now separated into two halves by a giant wall – the survivors living n squalor on one side, the infected on the other – a totalitarian would-be dictator has seized control of the country and sends a group of criminals – Kika included – to find and kill the Zombie Queen (Eihi Shiina) – who also happens to be Kika’s mother. There’s actually a lot more going on, but I’ll leave the assorted plot twists and sub-stories for you to discover yourself…

HelldriverWithin the framework of this not-exactly original idea, Nishimura throws in some amusing satirical social commentary, bizarre humour, audacious visuals and gallons and gallons of blood, with everything cranked up to eleven. The colour palate is dayglo, the action non-stop – especially in the second half of the movie, where is becomes so relentless that you feel exhausted just watching it – and the soundtrack thundering. The whole first half is all build-up, with the opening titles not appearing until 48 minutes into the film, but even then, it’s faster and more frenetic than anything else you’ll see. There’s no subtlety at all here – everything, from the acting to the gore, is cranked up to the max, and every few minutes, a ridiculously insane visual idea appears. Impressed by the car made entirely of body parts? Just wait til you see the giant monster made up of thousands of zombies, which then grabs a couple of missiles and transforms into a plane…

If you are a fan of cinematic excess, Helldriver is definitely the film for you. It might not be overly-intellectual – though the sly satire is smarter than you would give it credit for – but there’s no denying that this is full on, demented, ferociously insane cinema at its finest, and the most unrelentingly fun film I’ve seen in ages.

This release contains two cuts – the theatrical and the longer directors cut (which is the one I watched for the purposes of this review), as well as a thoroughly entertaining ‘making-of’ documentary.






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