What a title! But, be warned: If you pick up Koji Kawano’s 2007 schoolgirls versus zombies J-horror gore-fest expecting kitschy fun and gory giggles, you could be in for a shock.
New girl Aki (Sasa Handa) arrives at school, where new pal Sayaka (Yuria Hadaka) persuades her to join the swim team. However, Aki’s arrival coincides with the outbreak of a zombie virus, plunging the team into a grisly battle against the undead, where Aki will come face-to-face with her own arcane past…which just happens to involve many scenes of brutal, systematic rape. Yuck.
Cute Japanese teens in school uniform will always find an audience and Kawano wastes little time in throwing his short-skirted aquatic daredevils into combat. Initial zombie outbreak scenes are delightfully chaotic, with gallons of the red stuff.
The effects are cheap, but Kawano sensibly maximises the gory mayhem, throwing in a murderous math teacher who skewers his victims with rulers to heighten the full-on riotous effect. Satoshi Owada’s screenplay is full of quirky, mad ideas like magical seductive sex flutes and hidden vagina death-lasers, and though little of it makes sense, he certainly gets points for imagination.
I’d buy that for a dollar!
With a groovy electronic score that consistently innervates throughout, Attack Girls… seems to be on the right track. However, as soon as things slow down enough for Aki and Sayaka to share a heart-to-heart, things take a decidedly grim, perverse turn…
Disturbingly, Kawano displays a concerning fascination with the fetishisation of rape. His film is offensive enough in its relentless, lascivious, up-the-skirt-shot objectification of young girls, but Aki’s torturous extended flashbacks of sexual abuse push things far beyond the barriers of acceptable taste.
It’s a bit wrong…
It is shuddersome to think this sort of stuff is viable entertainment for some audiences, yet Aki’s reminiscences of her past as a ‘water assassin’/sex slave are clearly presented for our ogling pleasure. Kawano would have us believe that sexual abuse is absolutely key to effective ninja assassin training.
Things get more distasteful when Aki and Sayaka decide they’re actually lesbians in a tonally awkward and incredibly graphic kitchen-set love scene. This supposedly sensual moment is difficult to watch, as both actresses seem nervous, uncomfortable ,and so obviously not into it. The post-coital revelation that the lovers are, in fact, twin sisters(!) is a deranged, nauseating step too far.
Though Kawano generates good faith with the energetic classroom zombie attack, subsequent flaccid scenes reveal this was a fluke. Fight scenes are woefully choreographed, filmed largely from wide angles, exhibiting very little imagination. The battles are painfully slow, badly edited, and crucially unexciting, Kawano evidently hoping that buckets of blood will work as a substitute for genuine thrills. If only the director would invest as much energy into delivering breathtaking action as he does into making women suffer for his pleasure.
Though the twisty-turny plot keeps you guessing, little of it makes much sense. This is the sort of film where nobody ever thinks to simply call the cops, no matter how many people have just had their intestines scoffed.
The zombies shift from lumberingly slow to super-fast whenever the convoluted plot requires it, with one zombie able to juggle and spit fire, probably purely because the director knew a circus performer he simply had to have in his movie.
Combine this with a crescendo that throws about three too many implausible curveballs, while squeezing in liberal helpings of pretty nude girls demeaning themselves, and you’ve got a preposterous headscratcher of a flick that leaves a very icky taste in the mouth.
Factoring in that lead Handa is an ex-porn star, much of Attack Girls… suddenly starts to make sense. Throughout, Handa is either required to appear menacing or in the throes of passion, and her background serves her well, faking her orgasms immaculately.
Oh, THAT’s where I remember you from!
Her swim team buddies are so barely sketched as to be redundant, while Sakae Yamazaki’s pervy mad scientist is pure pantomime, running around like a sinister Benny Hill, if Benny was into molesting women.
Kawano seems to have spunked the effects budget on fake blood and ball-gags, as the dodgy zombie make-up looks like it was done with a felt-tip pen. However, the rapey scenes are far more terrifying than anything even FX maestro Tom Savini could cook up and will probably give you more nightmares. It really is a nasty little film.
For a film with such a promising, wacky premise, Attack Girls… delivers something disturbingly dark and mean-spirited. Far beyond mere exploitation, Kawano serves up a film that is pornographic in the worst way possible and, above all, dumb. Lacking energy, enthusiasm and intelligence, this is a nasty piece of work that doesn’t just tread water in the zombie genre: it pisses in the pool.
Take a Drink: every time the zombies change from slow to super fast. Make your minds up!!!
Take a Drink: every time we get a sneaky glance up someone’s skirt.
Take a Drink: whenever things get a bit rapey. Urgh.
Take a Drink: every time the juggling, fire-breathing, maths teach zombie appears, making you wish the film could just have been about him. He’s kinda cool!