CAPSULE: VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL [Kyûketsu Shôjo tai Shôjo Furanken] (2009)

DIRECTED BY: Yoshihiro Nishimura, Naoyuki Tomomatsu

FEATURING: Yukie Kawamura, Takumi Saito, Eri Otoguro

PLOT: Two Japanese high school girls compete for the affections of a fellow student. One of

Still from Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl

them is a vampire, the other becomes a “Frankenstein girl” built of composite parts with the help of her mad scientist father.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It certainly has its share of weird and outrageous moments, but on the whole Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl is too slick, too self-aware, and too ho-hum to warrant a place on the ListSplatterpunk has its place there, but this is not the best representative of the genre.

COMMENTS: Narrated by Jyugon, a spineless but attractive high school boy, the film attempts to parody several high school subcultures while the paranormal plot thickens.  Though Jyugon is forced to date Keiko, a bossy Lolita, he soon finds himself the object of the affections of quiet transfer student Monami.  She feeds him a chocolate with her blood in it and turns him into a vampire, and inadvertently kills the jealous Keiko.  The latter’s father is the unassuming vice principal to the naked eye, but with the help of the sexy school nurse he secretly kills students so he can attempt to reanimate them in his basement lab.  He has a breakthrough with a magical drop of Monami’s blood and is able to assemble a new body for Keiko so she can wreak havoc on Jyugon and Monami’s tepidly developing romance.  There doesn’t seem to be much at stake, really, since Jyugon isn’t actually interested in either of the girls who are fighting over him.

Shooting a good portion of the movie as if it were a music video, directors Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu don’t lack for visual ideas.  The kabuki costumed mad scientist, wide-jawed vampire, acid-trip hallucinations, non sequitur demon fight opening, wacky Bride of Re-Animator-esque composite creatures, and of course showers upon showers of blood tie well into the quick cuts, fluorescent lighting, and spontaneous musical numbers.  Scuffles with a feisty drop of blood and all-out duels between a crazed re-animated nurse and a manservant wielding human bones as weapons are sure to amuse any fan of weird Japanese grindhouse flicks, with a number of solid blood-based tools adding that vampiric flavor.  The model-attractive high school students and mini-skirts bring an appeal to various other viewer types.

With about an hour of build-up and 20 minutes of reward, Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl tests the audience’s patience.  The scenes involving the wrist-cutting club and Ganguro club are meant to be satirical but feel haphazard and irrelevant, while Jyugon’s narration is over-obvious and not as funny as it was probably intended.  Of course one wouldn’t expect well-developed characters or an especially clever script based on the title alone, but it just isn’t as fun as it could have been.  Everything is very slick, choreographed, and over-digital, making it less loose and enjoyable than many other films of this ilk.  Its interesting battle scenes and goofy gore don’t quite make up for lackluster humor, poorly thought-out characters, and an unsatisfying climax.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Japan has never really been shy of weird and crazy horror flicks… Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl is the latest to join the cult… [this entry is] 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.”–Niels Matthijs, Twitchfilm (DVD)

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