Review Date: 1/18/21
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Cast: Arisa Nakamura, Asana Mamoru, Mayu Sugano, cameo by Asami
"You fart and fart until you die. That's your fate."
Megumi (Arisa Nakamura) is a shy and melancholy girl who started devoting all of her time to karate after a group of bullies forced her sister to commit suicide. Her friend Aya (Mayu Sugano) invites her on a camping trip with a few other friends including aspiring model Maya (Asana Mamoru), goofy nerd Naoi, and Aya's pill-popping boyfriend, Take. Maya is hooked on the idea that eating a certain parasite will keep her skinny so that she can land a lucrative modeling gig, so they all go fishing and catch a trout that carries the parasite. Predictably, the parasite makes Maya ill and the group's car is stolen so they have to walk to the nearest village for help. Once they arrive, they're attacked by a horde of undead who crawl out of a toilet, and rescued by a scientist named Dr. Tanaka. He's been studying the parasites and their affect on humans, but he also has a far more sinister agenda. Towards the end, the film goes completely off the rails as Megumi and her friends fight for their lives against the deadly parasites. Only karate, firearms, and flatulence can save the day.
Much like Takashi Miike, the films of Noboru Iguchi are challenging and an acquired taste. He's a mad genius whose sensibilities and twisted sense of humor appeal to only a fetishistic sub-niche of B-movie horror fans and gorehounds. His films are appalling, but they also represent what makes Japanese cinema so amazing. Japanese filmmakers excel at taking ludicrous ideas and giving them dead-serious treatments, and Iguchi manages to take that one step further. While his treatments are completely serious, they also fully embrace their absurdity and cleverly acknowledge their campiness with a sly wink and nod. His actors also fully commit themselves to the mind-blowing scenarios and situations that he creates, which is really the only way to make a movie about killer tapeworms and shit-covered zombies who crawl out of pit toilets.
First and foremost, Arisa Nakamura is amazing. She's impossibly cute and effortlessly channels the unguarded sensuality and fierce intensity of Miho Nomoto. She is overflowing with charm and conviction, and is mesmerizing to watch. It's also worth noting that her captivating ponytail is absolute perfection. I can't imagine anyone else in this role, and she carries nearly the entire film. That said, I also have to point out that both Asana Mamoru and Mayu Sugano do an excellent job with their roles, especially given the humiliating shit-themed material. Genre queen Asami shows up in a cameo as a zombie with a killer butt, which is just as outrageous as it sounds.
I actually enjoyed the film quite a bit. The lighting, locations, and cinematography are competent and the actors are able to successfully sell the story. Compared to Noboru Iguchi's other films, the gore effects are surprisingly subdued in order to not overshadow the shear shock value of the parasite's behavior. True to the title, there's a lot of ass in the movie, and the parasites like to rip through peoples' underwear when entering or exiting a host body. The tapeworm theme gives rise to some tentacle porn moments, but those are also surprisingly tame. It seems that even Iguchi has his limits and there are lines that he won't cross. The same goes for nudity, which is surprisingly light and tastefully done, although I question the need for it in the film. The inevitable fetishistic panty shots are also tastefully done and relentlessly stay true to the theme of the movie without feeling gratuitous or exploitive. Of course, why Megumi decided to go on a camping trip in her school uniform in the first place is baffling, but I'm not about to complain.
Naturally, a film like this has its fair share of problems and shortcomings. It's obviously a low budget production and suffers from B-movie trappings. The special effects are pretty poor and the CGI is embarrassingly bad. However, given the absurdity of the premise, realism isn't a driving factor and you just have to go with it. The first half of the film works better as a straight-up horror film, while the second half goes completely bonkers and tries to dazzle the audience with an over-the-top barrage of visual effects and crazy ideas. It ends up being too much and ruins the viewer's engagement with the story and characters. While it's extremely satisfying watching Arisa Nakamura kick zombies in the head and blow them away with a shotgun, the action scenes are disappointing and poorly realized. I have no doubt that Nakamura would have been able to handle better choreography, but I'm guessing there wasn't time or money to develop more complex and engaging action. And that's a shame. Movies like this are impossible to recommend, but fans of Noboru Iguchi's oeuvre would do well to check it out.