Helldriver (2010)

HelldriverStarring Eihi Shiina, Yumiko Hara

Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

Yoshihiro Nishimura is absolutely, 100% certified flying-rodent-fecal-matter INSANE. And God bless him for it.

The director of Tokyo Gore Police and the amazing Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl is back with another foray into disturbing wonder with Helldriver.

Helldriver is a zombie movie. Nishimura-san always wanted to make a zombie movie. He finally made one, and of course he decided to make it unlike any other zombie movie he’d ever seen.

Boy, he can cross that item off his bucket list.

I’m going to attempt to describe the basic plot. If you have recently ingested any psychoactive drugs, legal or illegal, I strongly suggest browsing to another page. Just the description of this film may cause severe chemical damage to your brain.

Kika (Yumiko Hara) was a simple schoolgirl with a disabled father and a devoted mother (Eihi Shiina of Audition fame). Oh, wait…no, her mother is a criminal who is engaged in a deeply wrong relationship with her insane brother, Kika’s uncle. She comes home from school one day to find dear old Uncle tearing flesh off Dad’s useless legs and turning it into meat patties for dinner. There’s a struggle of sorts, and the trio wind up outside after dad’s been set afire by mom.

One space starfish, stolen heart, and zombie-creating spore-plague later, people are sprouting growths from their foreheads (that happen to mirror the stems on the melons grown in the province that the film was shot in) and eating the living.

The northern half of Japan is walled off and abandoned to the undead. However, the stem-growths on the heads of the zombies can be ground up and turned into an addictive drug…that blows up its addicts, as the compound is very unstable.

The now-cyborg Kika and her chainsaw sword get mixed up with some folks farming the growths for money and winds up brought in by the government to find the source of the outbreak: her mother, now some sort of zombie queen. Joining forces with a wandering cowboy, they travel through the contaminated northern lands to bring down mommy dearest once and for all and end the zombie threat.

Have you ever seen a guy get in a swordfight with a truck? Not IN a truck, WITH a truck.

How about an artillery barrage of undead severed heads?

Those are two of the more sedate images you’ll see in Helldriver. Nishimura goes for broke in Helldriver, delivering bizarre imagery and fountains of gore that go beyond any of his previous films. While Helldriver may lack some of the narrative of Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl, it makes up for it in undiluted zombie action. The film barely pauses to take a breath between epic action sequences.

This is the kind of movie you should watch with a crowd, because you’re all going to be shouting, laughing, and cheering your way through the madness. Each segment of the film builds and one-ups the previous chunk, guaranteeing the perfect party movie to play for people who have no idea what they’re getting into.

My only complaint is that the insanity is so thick and over-the-top that by the finale (set on a giant body made of zombie body parts powered by rockets…yeah) you’re almost a little numb.

That complaint is as minor as they come, however. Nishimura-san’s brand of madness might not be your particular cup of psychadelic mushroom tea, but most horror fans should dig the hell out of it. I know I did.

4 1/2 out of 5

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Mr. Dark

A man of mystery. An enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a low-carb whole grain tortilla. A guy who writes about spooky stuff.