From two of Japan’s new breed of gore/horror directors comes this simple tale of high-school romance — though, as you might guess from the title, only one member of this film’s love triangle (that’d be the boy, Mizushima, played by Takumi Saito) is entirely human. He’s the quiet-yet-pretty boy in class, browbeaten into reluctantly accepting Keiko (Eri Otoguro) as his girlfriend. She’s the science teacher’s daughter, dressed to the nines and always backed by her posse of lolita girls. However, Mizushima has also caught the eye of Monami (Yukie Kawamura), the enigmatic transfer student. Right under Keiko’s nose, she gives our lad an offering of chocolate for Valentine’s Day, but with a hidden surprise. It contains blood. Her blood. And she’s a vampire.
More than a little annoyed, Keiko squares up against Monami but isn’t quite up to it, with messily unfortunate results. But luckily for her, her father (in his secret identity: a kabuki-costumed, power-tool-waving evil scientist) is able to fix things, resulting in the creation of Frankenstein Girl, a much more formidable match for Monami the ageless vampire.
To be honest, the storyline isn’t exactly what Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is about. I’ve even glossed over a bunch of subplots — rather politically-incorrectly peppering the background of the film are the school’s wrist-cutting club, who are preparing for a national competition, and the ganguro club, who have a pretty eye-watering devotion to African-American culture. It’s played for laughs for the most part, with a lot of really warped comedy and only the occasional almost-straight romantic scene between Monami and Mizushima just to keep us off-balance.
What the film is about, then, is gore. Lots and lots of it. The film begins with a cold open that makes this abundantly clear, and (after the preliminary storyline is dealt with) each action sequence ratchets up the violence and strange prosthetics until the titular confrontation takes place. With all of the crazy comedy and warped characters, though, the end result feels like more of an oddly light piece of escapism for those who like it coloured crimson. I certainly didn’t find it as disturbing or just plain weirdas Miike’s Ichi the Killer, but neither was it that much fun to watch; all recycled tropes, fountains of CGI blood and the big boss fight at the end.
Bear in mind, though, that I’m not a gorehound. Connoisseurs of the genre will likely see more in the film than I did, and I’m guessing it’ll be just right for those who want more from the teams behind The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police — co-director Yoshihiro Nishimura did the effects for both films and wrote and directed the latter as well, and he’s very much in demand. There’s certainly a lot of effects work here, and much of it of it is more old-school make-up and prosthetics than CGI. The bright, zany feel of the film perhaps make these look a little less impressive than they would be in a darker horror film.
All in all, Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl is exactly what it says on the tin. If you’re after a madcap monsterfest interspersed with highschool romance of an evening, this might be just the ticket.