I just have to start off by saying that Yoshihiro Nishimura’s Helldriver (transliterated, Heru doraibâ) is easily the weirdest, wackiest, zaniest, bad-assiest zombie movie I have ever seen! And that’s saying something!
Like any good splatter or grindhouse movie, Helldriver has to be experienced to be believed. In fact, that is basically what Helldriver is… a Japanese space zombie grindhouse splatter movie! If you are a fan of over-the-top gore mixed with tongue-in-cheek humour, you will not want to miss this one.
OK, here’s the deal… A mysterious mist traverses through northern Japan, turning its inhabitants into zombies. Kika, a high school girl with a chainsaw katana, recruited by the government enters the zombie infected zone, along with a small group of companions to take out the zombie queen.
What could be simpler? And that is where the beauty of this gore-spattered movie lies. It’s not in the plot. (It’s certainly not in the acting!) Once the premise is set, everything switches over to writer-director Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and Mutant Girls Squad) and his gift for wild special effects. Or rather, wild practical effects. This is old school stuff. No CGI magic or digital hokus pokus. Plain old-fashioned no-nonsense ‘blood shpritzing through plastic tubes when zombies get their heads and limbs cut off’ practical effects! The movie is shot in eye-popping colour. Electric primary colours. It seems that no red is red enough! No spurting is spurty enough! This movie is a white-water raft trip on a river of blood. Red-water rafting! You got to love a movie that goes THIS far!
My two cents… Once you get over the bad acting (except for Yumiko Hara and Eihi Shiina)… and I do mean TRULY bad acting… Helldriver is a rollicking good time. One thing can be a bit jarring to western audiences, though, and that is the sound. The music and sound effects cut back and forth harshly and it kind of clangs on the ear. It takes a bit of getting used to. There are other odd things, like the opening credits in the middle of the movie… and I mean the middle of the movie! 45 minutes into the film and all of a sudden you get the title and the names of the stars and writer/director! Other than that, if you can overlook its quirks and deficiencies, Helldriver is one hell of a ride.
Bottom line… Fans of splatter horror will love this one. One of the better horror films to cross over from Japan in a while. I had SUCH a good time. Definitely worth a look.
One and a half bloody Japanese zombie thumbs way up!
For a more detailed in-depth review, please check out Texas Frightmare Weekend’s review of Helldriver by actor, writer, director, producer and regular Lions Gate Studio exec Jerod Warren over at TheMoviePool.com. Good stuff!