The Machine Girl [Kataude Mashin Garu] is one of those small, almost-amateur films that benefit greatly from the possibilities of the internet. One well-trimmed trailer, advertised in the right place at the right time and suddenly you have a clan of followers dying to see your film. Apparently things fared well for the team behind The Machine Girl, as their new film is already gaining attention.
The Machine Girl trailer would've fitted well within Tarantino and Rodriguez' Grindhouse project, though it would've been rejected because of being too extreme. The basic nonsensical low-budget gore fun is unmistakably there, mixed in with an overdose of live action manga insanity to keep it typically Japanese. A downside of these flicks is that they often sound a bit more insane on paper than they really are. The Machine Girl sadly isn't an exception to this rule, although the fun factor remains pretty constant throughout the film.
There's a dramatic background story that propels our heroin in a battle between evil and worse evil, set in a universe where every breathing person is out to kill the next guy. Almost every character is trying to kill someone else for some goofy reason or other. The film takes a little too much time trying to explain all these motives while at the same time there could've been more bloodshed, but considering the strange performances some of the actors had to deliver, you can't blame them for getting some extra screen time. Still, the performances of the actors aren't really all that great to allow for the number of dramatic scenes in the film.
The Machine Girl is without a doubt a no-budget film, though Iguchi succeeds in hiding it fairly well. The film has a bleached look which makes several scenes a tad classier than they should have been considering the budget. To match that, there are plenty cool shots and Iguchi is creative enough to keep the film from becoming a visual cemetery. The film never escapes its no-budget roots, but that's probably a good thing too.
Apart from some dramatic developments, The Machine Girl is really only about two things. Weirdness and splatter fun. And it delivers. There are quite a few moments that look like they were taken right out of an anime series but feel all the weirder in a live action environment. The best example is probably the Mourning Revenge team made up of 4 parents, dressed up as American Football players and performing a Power Rangers style show-off.
There's gore aplenty too, but what did you expect when the main subject is a girl with a machine gun attached to her arm. Blood sprays and splurts like it is shot through a high-pressure hose, most of the effects are done the old-fashioned way and only a few scenes feature CGi graphics. There are plenty of beheadings, body hole creations and enough cuts and slashes to keep most gore hounds occupied during the 100 minutes playtime, so no worries there.
The Machine Girl is the kind of film that could only have been made with a lack of budget. Any outside control would've ruined the film, and let's be honest, nonsense like this is hardly marketable to a large crowd. The film is packed with crazy ideas and wacky scenes, sadly it goes a bit overboard with the drama from time to time, but time flies and the madness keeps coming. Iguchi proves himself pretty knowledgeable as a cult director without a penny to spend and made a film that overreached it's target audience by a fair share.
If you like Japanese weirdness, gore and crazy black comedy coolness you'll like The Machine Girl. And seeing as you like all these things, you will have little trouble looking past the lack of budget and acting capabilities of most of the cast and you'll have a damn blast. It's a fun-packed film with enough humor and plenty of bloodshed to make it a lasting experience, though don't expect anything in a classical dramatic sense from this film. Highly recommended for its goofy gory fun.