While Japan has never really been shy of weird and crazy horror flicks, it's people like Iguchi (Machine Girl) and Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) who used the potential of the web to full effect, marketing their obscure cult films to a surprisingly wide audience. Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl is the latest to join the cult, adding its own particular flavour to the ever-growing list of Japanese splatter films.
This time around, Nishimura is not alone though. He teams up with fellow director Tomomatsu (best known from Stacy and Zombie Self-Defense Force) to create a more comedy-oriented film that still bears all the typical treats of its predecessors, but adds a layer of silly comedy not quite unlike Cromartie High. The result is mighty strange, as you might have expected.
There is not much in the way of a story, but what else is new. I wouldn't be surprised if they spent more time coming up with strange and fantastical creatures than they did coming up with a coherent storyline. In between scenes there's some quick and dirty plot progression, but most of the film is spent on the crazy characters, gore effects and some running gags on the side.
VG Vs FG knows a pretty basic setup. Two girls, one guy, one blood-filled chocolate turning the guy into a vampire slave. This pisses off the other girl which ends up as a Frankenstein creature, giving it her all to win him back. On the sidelines we have a crazy professor, the wrist-cutters club (who are holding some sort of competition) and the Ganguro clan (Japanese girls trying to be blacker than black). Oh, and Igor the janitor of course.
The directors didn't have much of budget to work with, but that is hardly an excuse. On the contrary, they are actively exploiting their lack of budget to do pretty much everything they want, even if it looks a bit amateurish. Regular effects and CG effects look rather cheap, but if you consider what kind of freedom it allows them, it's hardly an issue.
They still manage to create a solid atmosphere by decent camera work, some neat stylistic touches and a varied selection of effects. There is even a rather cool animation-like sequence somewhere in the middle, which illustrates pretty well what you can do with modest means.
The soundtrack is pretty silly, intentionally so. Not what I'd call a great or suitable soundtrack, but it does invoke a couple of smiles throughout the film. And I can say pretty much the same thing about the acting. Seeing it's a high school comedy there is plenty of overacting and posing going on, but it fits the setting. It's not A-class, high standard stuff, but for a film like this, I don't mind a single bit.
Real gore hounds and splatter fans might be a little disappointed by the lighter atmosphere. VG Vs FG is a true comedy at heart, but filled with the usual blood fountains and torn faces. What it all boils down to is bringing their crazy ideas to the big screen, and in that they succeed like no other. There is never a dull moment to be found, keeping the entertainment factor extremely high, always coming up with new, crazy stuff.
The comedic range is also pretty wide. Of course there are some strange manga-esque characters and some gory fun, but Nishimura and Tomomatsu seem keen to include some references to other films. There's the pretty obvious link to Ju-on, with Shimizu himself playing a Chinese teacher doing some good promotion for his films, but the attentive viewer might also catch a glimpse of Pan's Labyrinth and some other big films in there.
Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl is entertainment to the max. There is no time for dull moments or dramatic depth, just heaps of blood, gore and silliness. And this time around, there's also plenty of room for comedy, which is a new twist compared to its predecessors (at least its immediate ones, the film could be compared to something like Battlefield Baseball I guess). Still, the film still caters to pretty much the same audience as before. Another good addition, showing that there is still plenty of fun and creativity left to keep this genre going a little longer.
If you want a taste of what is to come, check the trailer.