10. Wrestling Women Vs The Aztec Mummy (1964)
Lorena Velazquez, who played the Vampire Queen in Samson Vs The Vampire Women, becomes luchadora Gloria Venus who together with her partner Golden Rubi encounter a Fu Manchu-like villain and a mummy that can transform into a bat.
The Black Dragons, a gang of evil Orientals who try to hide their ethnicity by wearing sunglasses, have two-thirds of a three-part Aztec treasure map, and since Gloria and Rubi have the third piece, they naturally decide to send two female wrestlers to fight our heroines for possession of it. There are unintentional laughs to be had from the bad dubbing and unconvincing stunt doubles, and if you do watch it for a giggle, then don’t miss the final 20 minutes.
When the mummy finally appears, unleashed by the luchadoras to fight on their side, it’s somehow able to transform itself from a moaning and groaning mass of bandages into a rubber bat at will, leading to cries of “Look, he’s a vampire now!” and “He’s a mummy again!” Strange doesn’t begin to cover it.
9. Attack Girls Swim Team Vs The Undead (2007)
All a movie with that title asks is that you get on its wavelength, enjoy it for what it is and admire the cast in their swimsuits. Director Koji Kowano knows this, so his camera lingers on every curve, erect nipple and pert behind as his actors swim, sunbathe, shower and fight off a zombie horde.
At an all-girl school in Japan, a virus turns students and teachers into flesh-eating monsters with an unnatural fear of chlorinated water, meaning that only the swim team is unaffected. Fortunately, two swimsuit-clad lesbians are around to save the day, and when they’re not battling chainsaw-wielding zombies, they’re exploring each other in the shower.
With its porno production values, cheap effects and emphasis on female nudity, Attack Girls has even less ambition than Zombie Strippers, but it’s better-paced and, in true Japanese style, so disarmingly gonzo it’s difficult not to be entertained.
8. Mother Of Tears (2007)
Dario Argento’s reputation takes another knock with Mother Of Tears, the final part of the filmmaker’s “Three Mothers” trilogy following Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980).
The first hint that this belated concluding chapter won’t measure up to its predecessors comes during a botched sequence where the opening of an urn causes the walls to shake before a quartet of witches (in masks and burlap sacks) eviscerate a museum curator and, as their pet monkey looks on, strangle her with her own intestines.
Something Bad has been unleashed, but Argento’s budget means he has to stage Armageddon as economically as possible, resulting in a montage of women baring themselves in public while men take clubs to parked cars. If the sudden appearance of gangs of loud and obnoxious young girls signifies the end of the world, we really are in trouble.
It’s all something to do with Mater Lacrimarum, the Mother of Tears herself, who turns out to be a beautiful naked witch in hastily applied mascara. As bizarre as this is, it gets stranger: when Argento’s heroine, played by his daughter Asia, takes her mid-Armageddon shower, Dario doesn’t flinch or cut away – he moves his camera in for a better look. Having previously decapitated daughter Fiore in Phenomena (1985) and shot his ex-wife in Opera (1987), the man’s films truly are a (Manson) family affair.
7. Meatball Machine (2005)
Nobody knows where they came from or why they’re here, they only know that the alien parasites have one purpose: to destroy each other.
In order to accomplish this, the creatures take over human bodies and transform them into Necroborgs, biomechanical weapons intent on tearing their opponent apart. Think Mighty Morphin Power Rangers by way of Tetsuo, with a healthy dose of Blood Feast, and you’re on the right track.
Meatball Machine was the breakout movie for special effects creator Yoshihiro Nishimura, who later directed the equally berserk Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl. For splatter fans, his movies are a real find: every one features mutants, dismemberment performed with power tools and spurting blood that hits the lens. The uninitiated should check out Mutant Girl Squad (2010) and Dead Sushi (2012).
6. Evil Dead Trap (1988)
Evil Dead Trap’s minimal plot is sketched in during the opening scenes, when the arrival of what purports to be a snuff film prompts a ratings-hungry TV presenter and her crew to journey out to the deserted army base shown on the tape.
As with Dario Argento (or, for that matter, Lucio Fulci and Mario Bava), you don’t admire the proceedings for their logic and originality but for the succession of startling setpieces set to a memorable score and, sure enough, when director Toshiharu Ikeda begins despatching his one-dimensional cyphers one by one, his movie shifts into high gear.
The first to be toe-tagged (somewhat predictably) is the lascivious production assistant who’s skewered by spikes that inexplicably burst through the walls and floor, a sequence sure to captivate fans of Argento’s Suspiria. All that’s missing are the black gloves.
5. Demons (1985)
Surely one of the movies that Robert Rodriguez had at the back of his mind while making Planet Terror, Demons is without a doubt the greatest idiots-trapped-in-a-cinema-with-monsters movie ever made.
There’s no real plot or characterization, but the director is Lamberto Bava, Mario’s son, who knows how to take a silly and threadbare story and turn it into a visual feast with a pounding soundtrack. The dubbing is of course atrocious (love that jive talkin’ pimp!), but that only adds to the fun in a movie that just wants to give the viewer a good time.
There’s a lot of fun here, none of it rooted even remotely in anything approaching credibility. Though trapped inside a cinema, the heroes are still able to locate a motorcycle and a machete, leading to a sequence where they lop the heads off monsters while driving past. Come the finale, a helicopter just crashes through the roof, allowing them to escape. “Convenient” is not the word.
4. Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
Leave it to the Japanese, the only people more twisted than the Italians, to come up with a movie where genetically modified super-criminals known as “engineers” are hunted across Tokyo by a samurai sword-wielding heroine who self-mutilates in order to stave off flashbacks to her father’s murder.
The engineers include a snail lady and a crocodile woman (who’s literally half human, half crocodile, and best described as a “croc teaser”), though special mention must be made of the gentleman with the 6 foot penis gun that fires lethal projectiles that never miss their target.
If that’s not enough, there’s also a woman torn apart between two moving cars and who could forget the sight of breasts that produce toxic waste that melts the skin of your opponent? Special effects creator Yoshihiro Nishimura later brought similar insanity to Helldriver, Horny House Of Horror and Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead, but it’s Tokyo Gore School that remains his masterpiece.
3. The Beyond (1981)
If you’re looking for grue, then The Beyond has it – there’s impalement, eye gougings and a near-legendary scene where a head is blown off. There’s not much internal logic to the proceedings, but this is Italian horror cinema at its zenith, and just like Mario Bava and Dario Argento, director Lucio Fulci allows nothing to get in the way of the next outrageous set piece.
Among those set pieces: a paralyzed man is set upon by spiders, a blind girl has her throat torn out by her dog and a man is nailed to the wall by a torch-bearing mob. Special mention must be made of the film’s climax, where our heroes run through a hospital being taken over by the living dead, pausing only to shoot zombies through the head.
Also, what kind of movie allows a cute little girl with pig tails to become a zombie? An outrageous early 80s Italian gorefest, that’s what. You won’t believe what happens to this character when you see it.
2. The Seventh Curse (1986)
Dr Yuan, the Hong Kong equivalent of Bruce Wayne, is in Thailand when he becomes smitten with Betsy, in no small part due to her penchant for transparent blouses and skinny-dipping. Discovering she’s about to be sacrificed in order to resurrect a creature known as Old Ancestor, Yuan saves the girl and halts the ceremony, much to the chagrin of its leader, a Marilyn Manson lookalike named Aqulala, who places him under “blood curse.”
Back in Hong Kong, Yuan is cautioned to “stay away from sex” lest the curse take effect, which our hero of course ignores. Informed by a pipe-smoking colleague that he now has twenty-four hours until his heart bursts, Yuan returns to Thailand to have the curse lifted, in the process battling kung-fu monks and rubbery foetuses that tear out the throats of their victims.
When the film’s central antagonist creates “Blood Devils” using the bodies of small children crushed in a stone press, you know you’re not in for subtlety, but it’s all so outrageously cartoonish that it’s hard not to be entertained. As in Ricky Oh: Story of Ricky, director Ngai Kai Lam runs the gamut from outlandish fight sequences to over-the-top gore, the pedal-to-the-metal pace ensuring a major setpiece every few minutes.
1. Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl (2009)
At its core, Vampire Girl is a high school romance with bloodsuckers, mad scientists and walking corpses, Twilight by way of Reanimator, albeit with the “Student wrist-cut rally” Stephanie Meyer left out.
When Monami (Yukie Kawamura), the weird new girl who avoids sunlight, confesses her love for Jyugon (Takumi Saito) with a customary gift of chocolate, it infuriates his girlfriend Keiko, played by Eri Otaguro, who’s unaware her rival is a centuries-old vampire. Unbeknownst to them, however, is that Keiko’s weedy father is really “The scientist of the century”, a Frankenstein descendant conducting strange experiments in the basement while wearing garish facepaint and a fright wig.
The girls’ rivalry comes to a head when Monami transforms Jyugon into a bloodsucker, which in turn leads to an untimely demise for Keiko, much to her father’s delight (“I can chop up her body! Every father with a daughter dreams of this!”) as he’s able to reanimate her as a pieced-together creature whose detachable limbs can be used as lethal boomerangs or propellers that allow her to fly around the room. Thank goodness a zombiefied killer nurse and a hunchbacked custodian named Igor are around for credibility.
Author Bio: Ian Watson writes about film for one reason – to encourage people to watch films like Starcrash instead of that drivel where cars turn into robots and save the world. Every time one of those pictures makes money, an angel dies and falls from Heaven.