Monday, January 13, 2014


Dear ethnocentrist,

Everything changes, especially Japan.  You might think it's all still a land of samurais and anime eyes and movies that want you to be afraid of assorted girl hair.  But OMG you're baka, as Japan since 2000 has developed quite a thing for goofy, gory sorta-horror.  The exquisite VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL, the excruciating ROBOGEISHA, and now this MEATBALL MACHINE, which marries splatterpunk to cyberpunk.  

No matter what brands of punk it uses, it's still clearly in the gross-out vein of the titles I mentioned up yonder.  Gore pours, but before that happens, we get close-ups of realistic vomiting and a close-up of the spit that a transvestite spits on a boy in a garbage dumpster.  Japan, the land of honor! 

The plot is actually pretty promising.  Tiny alien parasites have invaded Earth.  When they infect people, they somehow affix all this metal shit to then, including snowman-style button eyes and a panoply of cutting and drilling weapons.  The aliens then sit inside their hosts and pilot them like steamships or mecha robots.  When one infected meets another, they fight to the death and the victor gets to pluck the alien pod from his/her opponent and eat it.  

So it's pretty much SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK again.  But, really, it kind of is.  MEATBALL MACHINE adds in a romantic subplot involving a schlubby guy, Yoji, and his unexpressed love for lovely Sachiko.  Circumstances finally pull them together and they have a magical, hilariously awkward kiss while seated four feet away from one another.  Since this is a movie about cyborg-creating alien parasites and romance, you know one's going to spoil the other.

I might be an old softy, but I really dig romantical elements in these kinds of films.  It worked great in VAMPIRE GIRL and it's fine here, too.  The problem is that MEATBALL mostly ditches those developments in favor of splattery action about midway through.  The film becomes wholly concerned about people in GWAR outfits hitting each other.  Okay, but it seems like it just abandons the things that made it special in favor of a more conventional approach.

Still fun and worth a whirl.  


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