Zombie Self-Defense Force
Nihombie! Zombie Trilogy
When I was eight, I used to end every short story I wrote for school with, ‘and then the Earth blew up and everyone died.’ I wasn’t morbid, I just thought it was cool to end everything with a giant, action movie explosion. Watching Zombie Self-Defense Force, I can’t help but think that its producers feel the same way.
The film opens with a Japanese nationalist monologue. The speaker criticizes America for killing so many civilians in the second world war, and defends Japan’s actions, saying that they freed Asia from American dominion. The speaker is careful to stipulate that he doesn’t hate America; as evidenced by his love of hamburgers and George A. Romero.
The actual story begins with a UFO crash landing in the woods. Those woods happen to be occupied by several groups: a small military contingent out on an exercise, some mobsters executing a guy, an idol and her film crew out on a photo-shoot, and a man and woman in some kind of bed and breakfast thing (take note of the fact that all the floors of the b&b are covered with plastic sheets. I guess the owner of the house didn’t want fake blood to ruin their hardwood floors).
The military characters are largely undistinguished; there’s a middle-aged leader, a hot girl, a guy with glasses, and a guy who loves the aforementioned Idol. The idol herself, Hitomi, is probably the most interesting character in the movie. When faced with danger, she falls back on her strengths; that is, sex appeal. She runs into one of the mob guys first, seducing him into protecting her. Then, as soon as they meet up with the military guys, she dumps the mobster and picks up one of the soldiers, he being obviously stronger than her previous hero.
The hot military girl, Yuri, doesn’t much care for Hitomi, seeing what a bitch she is; Hitomi, meanwhile, starts talking down Yuri to her soldier, apparently afraid that Yuri may be competition later. The dynamic could have made for some good conflict and character development in the hands of a better writer.
There is a mix of practical and computer special effects in the film. The practical effects are actually pretty good. Zombies rip flesh off their victims and blood sprays out from underneath. It’s not top tier, but given this movie’s budget, they do an impressive job. The computer effects do not fare nearly as well. It looks like someone cut and paste Super Nintendo graphics onto the video. The UFOs just look sad.
There are a lot of nice, creative touches to the movie. Most notable, of course, would be what happens to a pregnant woman when she turns into a zombie. I won’t describe the scene, but it definitely sets this film apart from most zombie movies. My favorite scene though, is when Yuri encounters the alien that crashed in the UFO. It doesn’t add much to the plot, but it’s a neat little twist on the expected.
There’s not a lot in Zombie Self-Defense Force that I can say is objectively ‘good;’ but the producers’ love for the genre and their work clearly shine through. It’s infectious, in a way.
Each movie in the Nihombie! Zombie Trilogy is on its own disc. This one presents the film in non-anamorphic wide screen video, which looks fine. There are no extras, except trailers.