If you haven’t already checked out a Japanese splatter film, you’re missing out. In fact, this is a pretty good a place to start, considering it is one of the more plot driven of the lot. Although, as with any truly great movie, the plot is mostly there to string a bunch of awesomely ludicrous action and effects sequences together – and boy, this one has that in spades. I always wonder how movies of this genre can top the action, and more particularly the kill shots, of those before them, yet they always deliver. Mutant Girls Squad was co-directed by genre masters Noboru Iguchi, Tak Sakaguchi, and Yoshihiro Nishimura, across three acts. The trio work cleverly to blend their over the top, referential styles. They serve up some of the finest cartoon-style action out there, complete with face slicings, explosions, and my personal favourite, chopping someone into French bread. I won’t say too much more, however, because it’ll ruin the fun. That is, after all, what these films are about – the spectacle of surprise and nonsensical violence.
Written by Iguchi, creator of The Machine Girl (another cracker in this vein), the film has a similar set up but refreshingly takes a different, irreverent path to reach its climax. That is probably a pun if you’ve seen the movie. Protagonist Rin, played with an impressive range of emotion by Yumi Sugimoto, is an unpopular high school girl who discovers a mutant power on her 16th birthday. It turns out she is part Hiruko, a once powerful clan of mutants. From there she goes on a rampage against superstitious villagers who want to slay her to bring good luck to their mall. As you do. Confused and scared, she is taken in, more like kidnapped, by a squad of proud Hiruko. The ‘girls squad’ in question is led by Mr Kisaragi, a cross dressing samurai played by co-director Sakaguchi, who was also fight choreographer on the film. Here Rin meets other, more bizarre and hilarious mutants, and is trained in preparation for an inevitable war between Hiruko and the mutant-hating government. In a bit of tongue-in-cheek social commentary, the genocidal government figures are quite humorously portrayed as hideous, lecherous, and inept. The actors do well to hold on to some shred of normalcy with their characters too – it even gets a tad emotional in parts – although most keep it suitably over the top to prevent the ridiculous action getting bogged down by anything really serious.
What Mutant Girls Squad does take seriously is style. On occasion, hyper-colourful elements break up the pastiche horror form, and there’s a surprising amount of variety in sets for such a low-budget production. The movie is tightly edited and populated by off-kilter shots and a smattering of green screen. It sets a pretty relentless pace from the get go, as the girls plough through soldiers and civilians alike in this slaughter fiesta. The fight scenes live up to the expectations of the genre, and pioneer Nishimura’s make-up and effects are creepily superb as always. Although, what else should we expect from someone who worked on Tokyo Gore Police and Suicide Club? The mutant girls allow him to really shine, creating both hilarious and impressive “powers,” from cosplay nurses to arse chainsaws. Yep. All three directors bring their unconventional talents here and, bar some slight style and flavour changes, each act gels together nicely. It’s even hard to pick a favourite fight scene, with each one as bizarrely impressive as the last – although it is hard to go past the french bread. Yeah, just watch it.
In a nutshell this movie is ridiculously funny, filled with outrageous action, following an irreverent plot that develops just enough to keep you in the zone. After all, a true exploitation film like this can’t take itself too seriously. I would go so far as to say it is one of the better films in the genre, and I’m quite a fan of the ones I’ve come across. The culmination of each director’s talents make for a slick production that plays to its strengths and makes for fun viewing. Seriously, there is some ridiculously wacky action on offer that will make any lover of gore and excess grin from ear to ear.