DIRECTED BY: Shojin Fukui
FEATURING: Norimizu Ameya, Yôta Kawase, Mika Kunihiro, Sosuke Saito
PLOT: In the midst of bizarre and intricate top secret drug research, four mad scientists run
low on test subjects and use one another as guinea pigs. Their equipment malfunctions as the team succumbs to the drug’s psychotic effects. The entire experiment spirals horribly out of control, turning the final test subject into a modern-day Frankenstein’s monster—with a unique twist.
WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: The bizarre story, unconventional filming, and shocking imagery in Rubber’s Lover make it a weird viewing experience, even by the standards of the Japanese cyberpunk genre.
COMMENTS: Kinetic editing and dark, shocking images define this unusual, experimental Japanese horror film. In a modern update to the Frankenstein plot, a team of rogue scientists conduct experimental drug, sensory, and mind control research on abducted human subjects in a secret government torture lab. The results are promising, but they can’t seem to get the dose right; the subjects keep dying. (Who might have predicted that?) Worse, they are running out of hard-to-obtain “patients” and time is running out to conclude experimentation. Their horrifying lab is full of eerie black iron devices and electronics, all maddeningly grotesque in appearance.
Threatened with impending shut-down and loss of grants if they don’t achieve viable results soon, the crazy quartet decides to give their last living human guinea pig a mega dose of their weird drug cocktail. His brain explodes, dosing an assistant by spraying blood on him. Now the assistant is instantly addicted, semi-psychotic, and useless for being anything but, you guessed it, the next test subject.
The researchers fight over which of their two drugs they should test on him, as both have developed competing formulas. One decides to test his drug on his partner, turning the hapless associate into a mad sex offender who then marathon-rapes a female executive sent to shut down their lab. To prevent her leaving and making a bad report (why would she want to do that?) she becomes, yes, yet another unwilling test subject.
A comely lab assistant, (a Lolita Goth, wearing a crotch length doll dress, who keeps her lunch in the specimen cooler and rapes male subjects between experiments), runs around with a giant pneumatic syringe full of the test formula, injecting hapless subjects in the rectum. The mind altering synthetic dope has a synergistic effect with certain audio frequency modulations, and subjects wear a full-head media stimulation hood during the tests. The sound patterns and the drug combo drive them insane. It is a form of experimental torture, yet they beg for more because the procedure makes them higher than they’ve ever been.
When the scientists accidentally ingest the drugs, they become deranged and experiment on each other. The complex equipment which both controls and catalyzes the research breaks down, and the entire project goes haywire, rapidly escalating to pure bedlam (as if things were “normal” up to this point.) As the participants undergo abominable mental and physical changes, it becomes clear that the drug formula is creating nouveau Frankenstein monsters. When the two addled researches struggle to regain control over their hi-tech disaster, the final batch of test serum breaks through a dimensional barrier in a unique way that nobody could have predicted.
Rubber’s Lover is not for everybody. It’s an assault on the senses, and watching it is akin to being caught in a white water rapids. You could wear yourself out trying to fight the current. Instead, you must go limp and let the foaming torrents roll you, twist you, shock you and hopefully deliver you out the bottom of the roaring maelstrom in one piece, exhausted, flabbergasted, but with luck, unharmed.
Rubber’s Lover audiences will be wowed with the successions of images and impressions, alternately clever and repellant, which at once surprise, stun, astound, stupefy, and disgust. Director Shozin Fukui maximizes the rich tonal range of his black and white film stock to cultivate an abundant bouquet of textures, lights and shadows. The result is mood-altering, staggering, and industrial, but never boring.
Rubber’s Lover is an arty, gruesome endurance contest of psychedelic imagery, torture, rape, and general craziness; yet, while wildly over the top, it is not campy, goofy, or insulting to one’s intelligence. (Well, not too much anyway). Given the outrageousness of the plot, this is a difficult balance to achieve, and it’s surprising that the filmmaker pulled it off as well as he did. Rubber’s Lover is a cross between Eraserhead, Men Behind The Sun, Philosophy Of A Knife and Videodrome. Fans of weird cinema may already be familiar with director Shozin Fukui, who brought us the equally bizarre cult film 964 Pinocchio and worked on the crew of the Japanese cyberpunk classic Tetsuo: The Iron Man. For fans of this unusual Japanese horror genre, Rubber’s Lover is a ten star weird-fest all the way.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“From the uninspired surrealism of Ken Russell’s Altered States to the gratuitous gore imagery made infamous by those paisans of puke, the Italians, Rubber’s Lover doesn’t provide a single situation that can’t be found elsewhere. While it may appear novel and new, this film is mining some very old chestnuts in the oeuvre of the awful.”–Bill Gibron, DVD Talk (DVD)