Saturday, 10 January 2015

J-Horror January: Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (2001)

Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (2001)
Director: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Starring: Norman England, Tomoka Hayashi, and Yukijirô Hotaru
Running Time: 80 min

  I've been waiting to see this movie for a while now.  I've seen director Naoyuki Tomomatsu's "Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl", which was a fun low budget free for all and I'm hoping that this one will be the same.

  It is the near future and girls, ages 14 to 17, all over the world are dying and coming back as zombies, which everybody refers to as a "Stacies"  There are only two things scientists know for sure, which is before these girls die, they go through a period of uncontrollable giddiness, which as been called "Near Death Happiness" or NDH.  Also, once the girl is dead, they accumulate on their skin a mysterious dust, which has been called "Butterfly Twinkle Powder" and no one knows what it does or why it happens.  Over time, scientists have also discovered that to destroy the "Stacy" that you have to cut it up into 196 pieces, but only close relatives are allowed to kill their "Stacy".  However, the government does have crews of Romero Repeat Kill Troops working around the clock cleaning up afterwards and stuffing these schoolgirl zombies in their garbage trucks and hauling their carcasses away.
  So, when a lonely puppeteer is approached by a Eiko, a school girl in the NDH stages, and asked if he will kill her when she turns into a Stacy, he has a hard time refusing.  Throughout the film, he and Eiko prepare and try to enjoy as much time as they can before he has to hack her up into 196 pieces.
  Meanwhile, a young man who has joined the Romero Repeat Kill Troops to find his true love Momo, is forced into becoming the lover of an older team member, who hates Stacies because they are still young and beautiful.  However while at the Romero Repeat Kill Troops camp, the young man finds Dr. Inugami Sukekiyo, who is the only person who is still trying to find a cure for the Stacy epidemic and has a number of "Stacies" locked away to experiment with.  The young man hopes that Momo could be one of them.
  Also there a number of smaller subplots going on, like a group of teenage girls named after Drew Barrymore, who want to do Illegal Stacy kills and an older Romero Repeat Kill Troop who keeps talking about a situation before the Stacy problem, about a killer who murdered teenagers and how that maniac was never found.  How do all these things tie together? You'll have to watch and see.

  This film was at a bit of a slower pace than I was expecting but it was a good watch.  It has a real Troma film feel to it.  It is low budget, the acting isn't really that good but there are some terrific gore and violence that will make you shiver and at times, laugh.  There are some seriously gruesome looks for the "Stacies" in this and some horrendous kills, which really drive this movie for me.  For the lack of budget, Tomomatsu and his make up crew should be applauded for their ingenious ways of adding to the gross out factor.
  Also, there is a lot of humour in the film and a number of good nods to the zombie classics.  The obvious being, "Romero Repeat Kill Troop" and in the film, they're selling "Bruce Campbell Hand Chainsaws" in a number of colours and designs for a faster kill of your loved one, which I found very funny.  They also do a nice job of dropping references in the dialogue to these films and even borrow one of my favourite disemboweling scenes from "Day of the Dead".

  This an adaptation of a novel by writer and rock musician Kenji Ohtsuki and like most films, Tomomatsu may have tried to fit too much into a 80 minute film and things go a little wonky.  It seems like a bit of a jumble at first and the story keeps jumping from character to character but by the second act, he's reigned most of the story in.  Still, some characters don't get as developed as others and again you wonder why they even got introduced to these characters or tried to add story lines to the sub-plot because it doesn't effect the overall story.  Maybe I'll find the book and it will make more sense.
  Also, I found the ending a little bit jarring and still don't really get it.  Tomomatsu does tie most of the story lines off clean or as clean as possible but I don't understand why this one character had any power or the point of the "Butterfly Twinkle Powder".  These questions don't seem to get answered.  Additionally the epilogue seemed tacked on, it is done with a narrative from one of the main characters, who explains where the world goes after this "Stacy" epidemic but there isn't any visuals of this new future, which is disappointing because that would really push the gross boundaries and I think this is a missed opportunity to leave the audience disturbed.

  This is a fun ridiculous low budget film and if you dig Troma stuff, then this is a must see.  Although the plot is a little bit difficult to follow at first and some of the weird characters get lost in the mix, the humour and the gore push this film through into a fun time had by all.  So, if you're looking for a different kind of zombie movie with Japanese school girls in it, then this would be your best choice.

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