Saturday, October 25, 2008

Movie Notes: Tokoyo Gore Police (2008)

How do you describe a movie like this? The GWAR of film? The Citizen Cane of mutated body part weaponry movies? A David Cronenberg version of the Roadrunner cartoons? Honestly, I have no idea how to describe it, aside from saying it's one of the most demented and hilarious movies I've ever seen, and to argue that, if this isn't a "cult classic", I don't know what is.

Yoshihiro Nishimura is a special makeup effects wizard who has worked on a plethora of Japanese horror films, including such oddities as Strange Circus (Kimyô na sâkasu: 2005) and Suicide Club (Jisatsu saakuru: 2002). Here he directs, and you get the feeling that he is creating and cramming in every weird effect that he hasn't gotten the chance to put in a movie yet. The movie bubbles over with surrealistic rubber oddities and, after a while, started to remind me of those really weird early cartoons: I started thinking of a Betty Boop short scripted by H.P. Lovecraft.

The story, to use the term loosely, details the near future, in which the Tokoyo police force has been privatized, and criminals have made themselves mutants whose wounds become biomechanical weapons. Yes, that's right: biomechanical weapons. Cut off their hand and they'll grow a fleshy gun. Cut off their legs and they'll grow a gaping maw to chew off your arms. In the process, the camera and other characters are showered with gallons of blood. After a while, I started thinking of a theme park ride based on John Carpenter's The Thing. It is as weird and silly as it sounds, and thankfully, it's not taken all too seriously.

Model and actress Eihi Shiina plays , a member of the Police Corporation who hunts these mutants, called "engineers", and is haunted by some of the most ridiculous flashbacks I've ever seen related to her father's mysterious death (made all the more mysterious by her apparent inability to look a foot to the right when he gets his head blown off). She is eventually turned engineer herself, adding a sort of ambiguity, if we can use that word in relation to this film.

Throughout, we see a mutant fetish club, commercials for "cute" wrist-cutting knives for teenaged girls, an armless and legless woman who walks on sword stilts, the Police Corporation losing its collective mind and instilling an ultraviolent police state, and any number of things that can hardly be described. The movie doesn't just go over the top; it has gone so far that it can no longer see the top from its altitude. It has a giddy abandon in which the most outlandish events are thrown in for the hell of it. We started joking about the "deleted scenes" on the DVD: "We removed this scene because we decided it was too plausible and inoffensive." To get a feel for the finished movie, view the trailer, and now imagine every weird set piece in that thing going about ten times as far as it does there: that should give you some idea.

By now, I'm sure you know if you want to see this thing or not. I will say that the audience we saw it with at the Toronto After Dark Festival cheered, hooted, applauded and hollered throughout the whole thing. And I was right there with them.

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