Friday, October 26, 2012

Gothic & Lolita Psycho (2010)

AKA Psycho Gothic Lolita
AKA Gosurori shokeinin
Directed by Go Ohara
Starring Rina Akiyama, Misaki Momose

“I've come to execute you.”

Yuki (Rina Akiyama) celebrates her 16th (?) birthday with mom and dad. The first sign of trouble is that  their little party takes place in an all-white room and they're wearing all-white clothes. Something tells me things are about to get messy. Sure enough, a gang of black-cloaked martial artists/occultists burst through the door in a slow-mo fury, paralyzing dad, smashing Yuki in the face, and crucifying mom to the wall while her family watches. Ouch.

Cut to: sometime later. Yuki is now dressed wearing an black lolita ensemble. Her dad (a priest, incidentally) is in a wheelchair. He hands her an umbrella with a sword tip, and sends her off to execute the thugs that murdered her mom.  And that's what she does, one by one. In between the bouts of bloody revenge, the story of why this all happened is slowly teased out. Hint: mom isn't exactly what she appeared to be.

About 90% of Lolita is fighting, which leaves little time for characterization or nuance or even logic, so don't expect a gripping story. Also, like a lot of Japanese gore flicks, Lolita is a low-budget affair, but they make up for it with stylistic excess: lots of cartoony lighting, firehoses of arterial bloodspray, soft-focus, slow motion, etc. That being said, the film isn't gooey and disgusting like Tokyo Gore Police, for example, and it's not all that slapsticky, either. It mostly harkens back to 70's Pinky Violence films, and often resembles a micro-budgeted Kill Bill, especially during the extended battle with eye-patch sprting sniper Lady Elle (Misaki Momose). Elle might be the most enthralling - yet incredibly annoying- Japanese villainess I've ever seen. She yammers and giggles in a sing-songy chipmunk voice while she sprays bullets willy-nilly with her twin knife-guns (!). Halfway through her battle-to-the-death with Yuki, she gets a phone call from her boyfriend. Turns out, one of the guns is also a cell phone. She takes the call, while continuing her gunfight.

As for our girl Yuki, at some point she trades in her umbrella-sword for an umbrella-machine gun, but mostly she Karates everybody to death. That is, until the hair-raising climax, when Lolita suddenly shifts into an 80's Italo-horror flick, with demons and guillotines and latex abuse and fog machines galore.

If Gothic & Lolita Psycho was not one of many Japsplatter flicks, if it was a just a one-off anomaly, it would blow your fuckin' mind. I mean, this is one seriously caffeinated movie, featuring a sexy heroine in a black-leather babydoll outfit chopping fools heads off in showers of bloody mayhem. But the fact is, you've seen it a dozen times already. Even director Ohara has sifted through this material before with 2008's Geisha vs Ninjas. But if you're alright with a rehash, then good times await you, because this is almost non-stop mayhem. Someday it may be worth examining how and why culture has gurgled so far down the drain that 90 minutes of decapitations eqaul an enthusiastic thumbs-up, but not today. Today is my day off, so fuck it. Thumbs up!

PS: In Japan, Akiyama is known as “Bishiri no Joo”, the “Queen of the Beautiful Ass”. That's her main gig, showing that thing off in magazines and whatnots, and her ass-model status was featured heavily in the promotion of the film. So it seems like a serious oversight when, aside from one brief flash of her black leather panties, you never actually catch a glimpse of it in Gothic & Lolita Psycho. I mean, if that's the main reason I bought it in the first place (ahem), I would be sorely disappointed. Luckily, the internet is pretty generous with its Bishiri no Joo collection, so here's a few pics to lessen the pain.

- Ken McIntyre

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