By Laura Dee Milnes

In the opening scenes of this follow up to the ultraviolent Meatball Machine (2005), we languidly follow the muted despair of Yoji Tanaka’s middle-aged, useless, grey and gloomy debt collector – a man so bad at asserting himself that he uses his own money to pay back other people’s loans. It’s not long, however, before this outlandish post-human gore fest makes a horrific and beautiful mess all over the screen (sometimes literally) and doesn’t even try to clean up the splattered guts. The film lambasts the money hungry landscape of contemporary city living and anthropomorphises consumerist greed into a rapidly advancing, murderous, parasitic outbreak which destroys, defiles and degrades.

Director Yoshishiro Nishimura is best known as the creative (sick) mind behind acclaimed Japanese movie Tokyo Gore Police, and worked on the SFX in the original Meatball Machine, so you would expect the gore factor to increase with him at the helm. You won’t be left wanting, his talents certainly don’t go to waste here. Hot on the heels of the calm before the gory storm, our eyes are met withhyper-violent body morphing from the inside out, and vice versa, as some sort of cyber mollusc latches onto its first host, squelching its way into the brain of the unsuspecting blighter. With this human rendered entirely flesh for the alien limpet to use in combat with other bloody-mollusc-steampunk-gore-bots, what follows is a reign of blood (complete with blood rain). These so-called ‘Necroborgs’ fight it out for… well I don’t know what purpose really, other than nihilistic violent expression, to the soundtrack of some of the best squishing sound effects I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing.

Where is our melancholy Yoji in all of this, you ask? Well, his shockingly bad luck in life proves to be his saving grace, as the cancer he has just rather bluntly been diagnosed with (in the miserable opening sequences where we ingest the hopelessness of modern living, hooray) in fact, prevents the parasitic alien growth from taking hold of his brain. So, in a semi-cyborg state, and still able to see, unlike the others, who have had industrial drill bits inserted into their eyes, our hero (of course) sets off to find his girl. I will mention briefly that his girl really is a girl – an almost pre-pubescent shop girl who he makes gooey eyes at while buying his cassette audio books, and whose pants he tries to get a glimpse of when he can. While I am unsurprised, let us at least acknowledge that this is a pretty boring trope by now. Yoji and his inappropriate love interest are well placed as protagonists, however, as they are the least deplorable of all characters we have met so far. Best of a bad bunch is better than none and this lot deserve a body swerve.

After the first few perplexingly horrific transformations from human to Necroborg, we needn’t worry that we’ve lost the plot, as Yoji narrates his own coming to terms with this new state of play, which is pretty handy as this film is all over the shop, maximum crackers. I have to say, the mash up of parasitic, alien, viral, gore, dystopian, cyberpunk, zombie evolutionary monster-borg themes and motifs is quite astounding. Add to that Yoji’s discovery that these creatures kill each other in order to extract the dead parasite from the brain of their opponent and whiff up a puff of purple vapour to get them high, and this film has blown nearly every exploitation/public service warning ever made out of the water. This isn’t even peak bonkers in the grand scheme of this movie.

Whatever’s next, you can find out for yourselves, but expect titty bars where the titties spray blood mist, severings-a-plenty and a weird mixture of cinematic post-internet meme collage and Harryhausen creatures (the glimpses of parasites manning the control centres of their hosts are slimy favourites of mine). Every one of the Necroborgs we meet is more horrific than the last, with body parts from dead humans crudely attached to or absorbed into the exoskeletons of these temporary, life-sized cyber creepy crawlies. I mean what else would you do with a spare limb? Some more treats to look out for: what sounds like a Japanese rendition of Rawhide, a castration, a strangely relatable and internal logic to the plot, a gigantic bell jar flying in from space, and needless, fairly regular sightings of boobs.

I’d be lying if I said I entirely followed the plot but it wasn’t completely incongruous – clumsy as the narrative inside Yoji’s head is, it certainly helped me keep up. Meatball Machine Kodoku is surely the most messed up, sloppy, flesh-splattered Transformers movie you will ever see and despite its (yes, unsurprising but) questionable approach to the objectification of its female characters, it has somewhat of a moral heart. Or at least one despondent at rampant consumerism and capitalist greed, which I will take where I can get. Plus gallons of really gooey blood. Lovely.

Horror Channel Frightfest Review: Meatball Machine Kodoku
4.0Overall Score
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