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This article was written By Jonathan Wroot on 15 Dec 2014, and is filed under Reviews.

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About Jonathan Wroot

Jonathan Wroot is a Lecturer and Academic Researcher based in the UK. His work covers Asian and world cinema, film and media distribution and marketing, and new media developments. He also enjoys teaching many subjects concerning films – from cult cinema, to introductory film theory, audience research, and film history – which he has done at both the University of Worcester and the University of East Anglia.

Big Tits Zombie (Japan, 2010)

Even the most die-hard cult film fans are likely to groan at the title of Takao Nakano’s horror-comedy (known in its home territory as Big Tits Dragon). Nonetheless, there is much to admire here, and not just the chests of the female actors. Their assets are not actually shown that much, and instead the film is dedicated to the bloody dispatching of zombies and tongue-in-cheek humor right from the beginning. Forget other films that market themselves as grindhouse – this is the real deal, back from the dead, and with an Asian spin.

Big Tits Zombie focuses on the perspective of Lena (former Japanese adult film star, Sola Aoi). She is a stripper at a bar in a derelict town, so her co-workers often jump at the chance to perform for local eccentrics. One day, they discover a crypt behind a door in their dressing room, which contains a mysterious book. Unbeknownst to them, the words from the book are capable of unleashing a demonic curse that brings the dead up from their graves. Chaos ensues, of course – and thankfully it involves samurai swords and chainsaws.

These are seen immediately in the first scenes, which set up Lena’s story in flashback, and the overall tone of the film. There are plenty of other colorful set-pieces too. From a sushi feast that is re-enacted with zombies chewing on organs, to mutant tentacle and tongue monsters. The beauty in many of these scenes is that you can also see the paper mache and strings that hold up many of the mutant zombies. There is the odd burst of CG to spice up duels between swords, chainsaws and kung-fu zombies – but mostly the effects are down to fake blood and prosthetic make-up. This is refreshing in comparison to other CG-heavy horror comedies from Japan, such as Tokyo Zombie (2005) and Chanbara Beauty (2008). Big Tits Zombie both mocks those films’ visuals, while paying homage older films that had restricted budgets for special effects.

It’s a refreshing Asian spin on the grindhouse aesthetic: other homages to low-budget cinema of the 1960s and 70s cinema, such as Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof (2007), and Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror (2007), are not as honest. Those films use computer effects and higher budgets to recreate the low-budget aesthetic, but Nakano does not stretch beyond his means. Instead, he is honest in his use of cheap rubber-and-string effects to create his more elaborate monsters. This gives the film a certain charm, alongside its grainy film reel opening, and blatant references to the Evil Dead series (1981-1992) and Sergio Leone’s iconic ‘Dollars’ trilogy (1964-1966).

This presentation of pop culture film knowledge (often specifically in relation to the horror genre) is often what makes many parts of the film stand out. Compared to other gross-out horror comedies, such as Tokyo Gore Police (2008) and Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl ( 2009), there is less immature and racist humor. Nakano is telling the world that he is a film fan, and wants to continue to put these sorts of films on the big screen. This is in contrast to his adult video film career. Furthermore, Big Tits Zombie seems to have helped Sola Aoi get out of the salacious side of the industry.

It is not a perfect film by any means, but this is a film made with the same spirit that is evident in Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House (1977) and Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo (1989) – though it does not match the quality of these two classics. Making the effects as good as they can be, and adding a dash of humor to the proceedings, all makes for a highly enjoyable slice of Japanese horror-comedy.

 

 

Related posts:

Exiled (2006)
Super Virgin (South Korea, 2012) [PiFan 2012]
No Man's Land (China, 2013) [NYAFF 2014]

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