Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl (2009)

Country: Japan
Directors: Yoshihiro Nishimura, Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Starring: Yukie Kawamura, Takumi Saito, Eri Otoguro, Sayaka Kametani, Jiji Bû, Kanji Tsuda,
Music: Kou Nakagawa
Cinematographer: Shu G. Momose
Editor: Yoshihiro Nishimura
Writer: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Based on the manga by: Shungiku Uchida
Original title: Kyûketsu Shôjo tai Shôjo Furanken

Warning: This review contains slightly more adult content (& imagery) than usual. Reader discretion is advised. The screencaps I have chosen reflect the content of the film, and are therefore appropriate to the review and presenting an accurate insight in the film – but I do appreciate that they may be unsettling for some people. If you believe that you may be offended, I’d skip over this review.

I do not like horror films. I get scared easily and the horror films coming out of Asia scare me the most. Films like The Ring, The Grudge, and The Eye just have me cowering away in the corner like some pathetic four year old – and that’s just their trailers. But you know what? When I am shopping there are certain things, that no matter how much common sense I apply, I simply cannot walk away from. In this instance it was the Japanese film, Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl. Now, at the time of purchase, I knew nothing about the film – it certainly didn’t get a theatrical release down under. (Those of you who have seen it, are laughing at me now, aren’t you?) But the films title and DVD cover, which features two attractive Japanese schoolgirls – one clearly a vampire, and the other sewn together like Frankenstein – called to me, in fact screamed to me, in a way that few films do. I knew there would be an empty longing void in my life until I had seen this film. So naturally, I bought it.

Now being a Vampire and Frankenstein film (plus reading the product description on the packaging), I knew I was in for a large amount of gore. I also expected a modicum of underwear staining horror. However I am sad to say to horror fans, that Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl has no horror in it at all. I maybe a gutless coward, but there is nothing scary here. I can assure you that my underpants ended the movie as cleanly as they had begun it. So those seeking terrifying chills will have to look elsewhere.

If you are looking for buckets of gore, however, you have come to the right place. This film revels in arterial sprays. In fact it stylises them to the point of parody. At one point, Vampire Girl, having just bitten through the jugular of her latest victim, stands on the pavement in orgiastic bliss as a shower of blood rains down upon her in slow motion. Meanwhile on the soundtrack an old show tune plays. It’s not ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ but close enough. As a quick adjunct here, as I have just mentioned music, I should point out that this is not indicative of the whole movie. Most of the music is swinging go-go sounds, which is pretty damn cool.

But, back to the gore-fest. The film opens with the film’s epilogue, but it does provide a nice ‘in your face’ taster of what you can expect from Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl. Monami (Yukie Kawamura) – AKA: Vampire Girl and her new boyfriend Jyugon (Takumi Saito) are bloodied and battered and staggering across a dry industrial tract of land. They are leaning on each other for support. It appears that they have been in some kind of battle. And it looks like it is not over yet. Appearing before them on the path, with their backs towards them are three girls in school uniform. The girl heads do a complete one-eighty degree turn on their necks showing their bolted on, sewn up faces. Another battle is about to commence.

Jyugon is the first to react and rushes towards the aggressors, but he is easily fended off and thrown to one side. It’s up to Vampire Girl to take centre stage and she takes on monster-girl-one. Within moments, Vampire Girl has eviscerated monster-girl-one’s face, in fact peeling it around like an apple being peeled (with her teeth). Then her head is detached and any excess meat is stripped, so the head is only a bloody skull. The skull is then kicked at monster-girl-two. However, monster-girl-one still has some fight left in her – with her teeth. Not realising where she is, as monster-girl-one connects with monster-girl-two, she starts chewing away on her face. Mmmmm.

Vampire Girl isn’t exactly unarmed either – but this is kind of hard to explain with words. I am sure that most readers are vaguely familiar with Wolverine from X-men, and are aware that blades can sprout from his hands. Well, Vampire girl is somewhat similar, but instead of three short blades popping out from each hand, she has one long blade erupting from each hand. And they are not exactly blades either. They cut like blades, but are in fact congealed blood. I guess that they are sort of like the scabs that you got on your knees and elbows as a child, but only fashioned into two giant slashing blades.

Vampire Girl uses these blades as the battle continues, to slice and dice the monster-girls. A highlight being – that is if you are into fucked-up weird shit – when Vampire Girl drops to one knee and thrust one of her blood-blades up the mini-skirt of monster-girl-three. It doesn’t take much imagination to work out which part of the anatomy that the blade is penetrating. This is all accompanied by a gushing geyser of blood. Have I put you off yet? No, good, because there is plenty more to come. As I mentioned earlier, this prologue / epilogue is just a teaser to whet your appetites for the bloody carnage that is to come.

As you may have gathered from my lurid (but compared to the film restrained) descriptions, Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl is a comedy…albeit a pretty fuckin’ weird comedy. As the film proper starts we are in Japanese High School and it’s Valentines Day. An intertitle informs the viewer that it is tradition in Japan for the girls to give chocolate to the boy that they like on Valentines Day.

Jyugon is the object of two girls affections. Firstly, there is Keiko (Eri Otoguro), who is already his girlfriend. He has no choice in the matter because she is somewhat of a bully and gets whatever she wants, and she wants Jyugon. It also helps that her father is also vice-principal at the school. The other girl vying for Jyugon’s affections is the beautiful, but mysterious new girl, Monami, who has just transferred into the school.

One of the school teachers sabotages Keiko’s attempt at presenting Jyugon with chocolate, when he confiscates all the chocolate parcels that the schoolgirls are carrying on the day. The only girl he misses is Monami who makes Jyugon hers giving him a Valentine’s Day chocolate with her own blood as filling. Once he takes a bite, he is on his way to vampirism.

Keiko, of course, isn’t happy about being beaten out and confronts Monami. But as a mere mortal, going up against Monami’s Vampire Girl powers, she is not really in the same league, and ends up dead. And it should end there. But no. Not only is Keiko’s father the vice-principal at the school, he also has a night time gig as a mad scientist – one who happens to wear kabuki face paint and has a proclivity to playing air guitar on one of his victims spinal columns. Conveniently, the mad scientist has just found a way to reanimate dead objects, and he – in a somewhat creepy scene – is delighted to have the chance to reanimate his daughter (because what more could a father want, than to carry out weird and perverted experiments on his dead daughters corpse – politically correct, this film aint!)

So Keiko’s vice-principal father transforms her body into Frankenstein girl, composed of bits and parts of other students, taking bits of the best from everyone. Finally, now the cast is fully assembled (pardon the bad pun), the story can move on to the climax and the battle that we’ve all been waiting for. Of course, in my synopsis – because I don’t want to give away all the story and reveal the weird subplots, I have truncated a lot of the action down to a few small paragraphs, and as such the story may seem a little bit racier and timely than in really is. The film only runs for eighty-five minutes, and the final battle doesn’t get cracking till the sixty-five minute mark, so there is a sense that the story is dragging its heels a little. There is still action a plenty and blood letting on screen, but in reality – if you’re like me – you want the final showdown not some contrived subplot to pad things out.

However, it must be said, that the climax is everything you’d expect from a film as weird as this. I don’t want to give too much away here, but I have to talk about one sequence. I can’t help it, and this sequence, in some ways, truly encapsulates the film. During the battle, Vampire Girl disappears up a tower. Frankenstein Girl has to follow her. So, producing a power drill, with a Philips-head screwdriver bit, she detaches her arm, which is holding a knife. Then, she reattaches the arm and the blade onto her head. Her arm and blade begin to spin like a helicopter propeller until she lifts off and flies after her quarry. This film has some weird shit in it, but that just nails it (or should I say ‘screws’ it). It’s sort of like Wyle E. Coyote meets The Re-animator…it’s just crazy.

I am afraid to say, I am not too familiar with the previous work of the two directors of this film, however even a cursory glance at IMDb suggests that Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu are not fucked-up weird shit virgins. Tomomatsu is listed as having directed Zombie Self-Defense Force and Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies. Nishimura was behind Tokyo Gore Police and has Mutant Girl Squad scheduled for release later this year.

While Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl maybe one of the weirdest films I have seen in quite some time, ultimately it is a bit of a disappointment. Underneath the films bloodied school uniform there were a few good ideas, toying with the concepts of ‘emo’ and ‘black American’ culture and how it has permeated Japanese society. The problem is that the characters that represent these social groups are little more than broad cartoons who are given no real dialogue’ simply slogans to repeat ad nauseum. The ‘emos’ belong to an after-school wrist cutting club, where they repeat ‘cut-a-wrist’. The most blatant bit of political incorrectness is reserved for the girls who choose to imitate black culture, where the gang members adopt not only black face, but afros, nose rings and other tribal piercing, and sport over-sized lips. There catch phrases tend to be ‘fuck’ (I’m kind of fond of that one myself), and ‘Joyner’ – a reference to ‘Flo-Jo’. However, ultimately, like all the subsidiary characters in the film, they end up being little more than fodder for the meat puppet display during the final climax. But hey, so the film is a bit of a let-down, but I can hardly reprimand anybody who chooses to see this film. After all, I bought it on the strength of the DVD cover alone – I felt I needed it in my life. Maybe you do too?

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