Fun old-school monster movie madness from Japan. Clocking in at just
54 minutes, the film is gory, audacious and romantic (and not in an
ironic or insincere way), and can’t be faulted for being too long.
Hajime Ohata, the writer-director-editor of 2011’s
METAMORPHOSIS (HENGE), is an up-and-coming Japanese filmmaker who made
this film on an absurdly low budget. It screened at several fantastic
film festivals throughout 2012, paired with Ohata’s 2008 short THE BIG
GUN. Here’s hoping METAMORPHOSIS (with or without THE BIG GUN) will
attain some kind of significant U.S. release in the coming months!
Yoshiaki finds himself undergoing horrific convulsions
and sprouting monstrous growths on one of his arms. His wife Keiko is
understandably freaked out, especially since her husband seems to be
growing increasingly inhuman.
Keiko contacts a shrink. After witnessing one of
Yoshiaki’s freak-outs the mild-mannered shrink contacts the authorities.
The following night several cops appear at Yoshiaki’s house and drag him
away, leaving Keiko alone. It’s not long, however, before Yoshiaki
escapes from police custody, leaving behind a bloody mess.
Yoshiaki makes his way back home and the love-torn
Keiko takes him in. Unfortunately Yoshiaki’s monstrousness has only
grown more pronounced; now during his convulsions he grows a mouthful of
fangs, which he uses to cannibalize a young woman summoned by Keiko to
exorcise Yoshiaki’s demons.
Realizing she can’t stop or control Yoshiaki’s
metamorphosis, Keiko lures unsuspecting men to their house for her
husband to devour. During the day he retains his human form, at least
until some prying cops harass Keiko, which causes Yoshiaki to go into
full-fledged monster mode with downright apocalyptic results.
This film has its share of problems--the ultra-low
budget, for starters, is obnoxiously evident throughout--but director
Hajime Ohata deserves credit for his commitment to old-fashioned
in-camera special effects. The latex creature the protagonist becomes
isn’t entirely convincing, but a refreshing sight nonetheless in today’s
horror landscape, with its over-reliance on CGI. Ohata’s charming old
school aesthetic extends to the GODZILLA inspired denouement, in which
model buildings are destroyed with gleeful abandon.
The film’s real surprise is its emphasis on
characterization and the power of love. Keiko’s affection for her
husband feels genuine, rendering the gruesome happenings of the final
third less implausible than might be expected. The outrageous final
scenes, on the other hand, are played strictly for laughs, and the mix
of gross-out horror, pathos and camp works surprisingly well.
Director/Screenplay/Editing: Hajime Ohata
Producers: Shin’suke Fujioka, Ai Nagura
Cinematography: Hidetoshi Shinomiya
Cast: Kazunari Aizawa, Aki Morita, Teruhiko Nobukuni