The seventh annual Another Hole In the Head Film Festival is currently running in San Francisco from July 8th through the 29th. It’s a genre fest featuring domestic and international horror, sci-fi, and exploitation films, and it just may be the first and last chance to see some of these on the big-screen. There are thirty-two films at the fest this year, and we’re trying to see and cover as many as possible. (And by we I mean me…)
Samurai Princess – directed by Kengo Kaji, Japan; upcoming screenings 7/15 5pm
Synopsis: Tokyo Gore Police screenwriter Kengo Kaji makes his directorial debut with this tale of samurais, androids, and body modification gone awry. A mad scientist (as if there’s any other kind) is harvesting bodies for parts and organs used to create fighting machines designed for slaughter. A disgraced monk fights fire with fire mechanized flesh with mechanized flesh and designs his own superior samurai in the body of a Japanese porn star. As an extra bit of oomph he infuses his creation with the souls of eleven women who had been raped and murdered to help make this particular samurai princess a vehicle bent on revenge. Of course, just because your primary goal is retribution doesn’t mean you can’t take time for a long, slow, naked, flesh-filled sex scene. Right?
Check out our review after the jump…
Review: Japanese cinema is known for several film genres, but the most recent is probably the one without a name. Or maybe there’s a name and I just don’t know it. The main staple of the genre is a female lead that usually undergoes some kind of tragedy from rape to murder only to be brought back to fighting life with some physical enhancements that do terribly messy things to human flesh. The film that started it all (or at least the most recognizable one) is the dark but fun Machine Girl, but the genre peaked with 2008’s smart and satirical Tokyo Gore Police. Subsequent films though have dropped any pretense at intelligence or real entertainment and have instead focused on bloody absurdities and exploitation. Which brings us to Samurai Princess.
The movie is low budget even by genre standards, but it still manages to open pretty strong with a fair amount of action. The problems start just as quickly though as the fighting is so poorly choreographed you could mistake the combat as nothing more than characters walking and jumping. As bad as the fighting is it at least manages to be mildly entertaining, but the same can’t be said for the long slog of a middle that follows. It’s here where the movie doles out the minimal revenge plot and adds a love interest for our heroine… just in time for a saucy sex scene seemingly shot in a well lit closet. The finale strikes back with some more creative bloodletting, but it’s too little too late.
The one area where the movie really works is in the effects. The gore, bloodletting, and bodily perversions are all courtesy of Yoshihiro Nishimura, the man behind Tokyo Gore Police, and they’re fantastic fun. The film-makers wisely focused on practical effects instead of cartoonish CGI as seen in the recent Robogeisha, and the result is imaginative and filthy in all the right ways. Boob bombs anyone? Fans of the genre may want to check it out if they have ninety minutes to blow on Netflix’s Instant Watch, but all others should skip it because it’ll only serve to give Japanese exploitation cinema a bad name.
Check out the complete festival schedule here.
And check out the rest of our festival coverage here.