Tokyo Gore Police (Tôkyô zankoku keisatsu) first published by Little White Lies
As Hollywood still picks over the bloody remains of the J-horror movement that flourished at the turn of the twenty-first century, Japan has moved on to a new brand of horror which might, for want of a better term, be called ‘splattercore’.
Key splattercore films like Yudai Yamaguchi’s Battlefield Baseball (2003), Yudai Yamaguchi and Jun’ichi Yamamoto’s Meatball Machine (2005) and Noboru Iguchi’s The Machine Girl (2008) take their cue from the outrageous comicbook grand guignol of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), Ngai Kai Lam’s manga-based Story of Ricky (1991), Ryuhei Kitamura’s genre-blending Versus (2000) and Takashi Miike’s peerless Ichi the Killer (2001), combining extravagantly bloody body horror with a postmodern brand of naïve cuteness that both confirms and belies their grotesque bad taste. Yoshihiro Nishimura’s Tokyo Gore Police (Tôkyô zankoku keisatsu) is no exception, liberally splashing its kitsch characters and lurid sets with geysers of blood, while throwing in some low-brow social satire as well.
High-kicking Ruka (Eihi Shiina, Audition) is the best weapon that future Tokyo’s privatised police force has against a homicidal plague of biomechanical mutants whose very wounds sprout heavy-duty weaponry – or crocodile’s jaws. But as Ruka pursues the leader of these so-called ‘Engineers’, she must also face questions about her past history and present allegiances, while unleashing her own inner monster.
Playing like an infantile remix of Blade Runner, Videodrome and RoboCop, Nishimura’s film deploys over-the-top action, transgressive fetishism, wilful offensiveness and bucketloads of gore to gobsmack the viewer into a state of wide-eyed incredulity, making it the perfect Midnight Movie. Watch it more than once, though, and you will struggle to see past all the one-dimensional characterisation, tonal inconsistency, shallow plotting and cardboard acting. Still, at least there won’t be a Hollywood remake any time soon…
© Anton Bitel