SEPTEMBER 19, 2012
Roughly an hour into Dead Sushi (Japan: Deddo sushi), the enemy gains a new power, to which a character yells "Things have reached the point where they no longer make any sense!" The joke is, next to nothing about the movie has made any sense so far, making this line the final bit of evidence that we aren't supposed to take any of it seriously, and instead should just enjoy the total insanity and laugh at/cheer for whatever comes next.
Of course, if you're just not into these things, I highly doubt that or any other line would have much of an effect on you. Even I have rolled my eyes at some of them, but I'm happy to say that this one hit the spot, providing 90 minutes of nutty entertainment without ever really boring or annoying me. And it was perfect timing for it; I'm stressed out trying to get ready for Fantastic Fest (I leave Friday morning), behind on the site thanks to an influx of late arriving Blu-rays I needed to review (none of which could count for my daily new movie), and it's the busiest time of the year at work as the new fall season is launching. A challenging, cerebral horror movie would likely make my head explode - this one has a disembodied head fly across the room and "land" on the owner's girlfriend's own head for an impromptu/disgusting "make out session". But I wouldn't expect any less from Noboru Iguchi, who gave us a few other entries in this "Robo Fart Ninja Zombie" genre, after a (seemingly abandoned) career in adult films where he gave us classic titles like Beautiful Girl on The Toilet 2 - Secret Excrement.
The movie throws a new curveball at us every few minutes, keeping it engaging and never too repetitive, at least with regards to the antagonists. The movie takes place in and around a spa/restaurant, which obviously isn't too big of a locale, so you see a lot of the same rooms and hallways over and over, and the structure never strays too far beyond having two or three people realizing they're in danger, running from the threat, getting stuck, and then one or two of them will get killed in gory (but silly) ways. Then we cut to another trio and the same thing happens. Eventually there's one hero and one villain left standing, and they have a hand to hand fight that wouldn't seem too out of place in any comedically charged martial arts film, except I bet this is the only one that ends with one of them being kicked out of a window, flying several hundred feet above ground, and then exploding.
But the titular sushi keep changing. They fly, they form weaponry, they possess corpses, they even sing at one point ("Any sushi that sings can't be all that bad.") - it seems any nutty idea anyone had would find its way into the movie, somehow. There's even a humanoid sushi - the film's human villain injects a serum and becomes a fish-man, who uses found weapons (great use of an ax) to add to all the carnage. And I particularly liked when two of the sushi began having sex against a tree, resulting in a spawn of baby flying sushi that swarm around like insects.
Plus it's entertaining even during the non-sushi scenes, a big help as some of these other movies are overloaded with rubbish subplots (Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl comes to mind). This one stays focused on the main story of a wronged man seeking revenge against his former employers (via... sushi), with the few diversions being character based, such as the "tragic" (read: hilarious) back-story for one of the male heroes, where we learn he accidentally stabbed his wife to death during a cooking mishap and is thus now afraid of knives. Of course, when his flashback ends the person he's talking to points out that there's a knife rack nearby, and thus the movie resumes being frantic and silly as he begins freaking out until the knives are taken away. Definitely not a "for your consideration" moment, at any rate.
My only real complaint about the flick (raising concerns about its lack of a coherent plot would be besides the point) would be the obnoxious sound FX, where characters can't even reach for a pair of chopsticks without an accompanying WHOOOSH sound. Some of them aren't even in sync properly, making it sound cheesier and sloppier than it already did. They dial it back a bit as the film goes on, but in those early scenes, where I was still unsure if this was going to be worthy of my limited time, it was a near fatal flaw. But it recovered, and before long I was giggling frequently, eyes widening as things got more outlandish and the blood splatter (a mix of practical and CGI - fine) kept coming.
Needless to say, if you're not a fan of this particular brand of "horror movie" from Japan, this certainly won't be the one to change your mind. Then again, I think they are an acquired taste of sorts; I find myself enjoying each one I see a bit more than the last (though I admit I might enjoy this one more than Vampire Island simply because it's 30 minutes shorter). It's just a shame that I had to watch it on a screener because it didn't appear likely that I'd make any of its FF screenings due to conflicts (or simply not being there), as that would be the ideal setting for such a thing. Then again, maybe that's a compliment - I was able to enjoy the film by myself on a tiny monitor, which means it'd probably be even better in the appropriate setting. So if you've only seen one or two of these things, unless you've downright hated every second of them, give this a chance when it comes your way.
What say you?
P.S. I wrote this review a few days late as is, and planned to format/post when I next had some time, but when that time came, the review was gone. So now even more time has passed, and my brain is fried from seeing 20 movies in between. Thus, forgive the fact that this writeup is a bit vague. Blame Blogger.