Zeiram (DVD)

Zeiram DVD (click for larger image)Starring Yuko Moriyama, Kunihiro Ida, Yukijiro Hotaru

Director Keita Amemiya

Distributed by Tokyo Shock

Genetic engineering never seems to go well in the motion picture industry. Just a few weeks ago we reviewed UKM and found out that it was a bad idea to let a genetically engineered supersolider run loose in an empty building. The ill logic was not the fact that he was violent, but that the movie as a whole was a poorly executed snoozer. Now let’s take a similar idea and add in space aliens, bounty hunters, and wacky electricians. What you get from this combination is a little film from Japan called Zeiram.

Zeiram is first and foremost a science fiction movie. The most gore and violence the audience witnesses comes in the form of a black and white intro where the indestructible alien Zeiram takes out a patrol of gun toting soldiers. One poor schmuck gets a tentacle through the face, and others just get impaled. This sequence delivers about as much intensity and fun as Ben Stein’s fish commercials. After our first two-fisted foray, the entire affair gets about as far from the horror genre as possible. If you deal with this as just being a sci-fi flick, then you should find Zeiram to actually be a fun little film.

Zeiram DVD (click for larger image)The story of Zeiram is as basic as many of the anime cartoons that inspired it. Badass alien is going to fuck up earth, badass bounty hunter is sent to kill said alien, a couple of humans get stuck in the middle, and hilarity ensues. Seen it before in animated form? Probably. Seen it before in low budget live action? Probably not … unless you somehow caught the Double Dragon movie in the ‘90s. If that is the case, then I suggest you start up a donation site because no one should ever have to suffer through that videogame adaptation.

The action of Zeiram hits the spot just below the satisfactory level. It’s hard to get quality action out of fighting a guy in a rubber suit unless the other fighter is in his own rubber suit and goes by the name ofGodzilla. The action scenes contain their own specks of charm simply because the bounty hunter Iria (Yuko Moriyama) looks so cute, if not constipated, while trying to take the whole thing seriously. Pretty much everything seen in Zeiram can be enjoyed with just one episode of “Power Rangers” except the audience usually doesn’t get to see a gooey monster with droopy tits.

This film’s strong points are in the most unconventional of places: humor and special effects. The comic relief comes in the form of two bumbling electricians who get caught up in the midst of the action. One even has a fight with a phallic-looking tentacle, which helps the movie cover one more branch of anime: Hentai. Zeiram doesn’t come off as cheap when the special effects start flashing. Though they are never stunning, they are watchable and at times amusing in their strangeness. If only Zeiram had gone one step further by adding in the ultra violence of classics like Riki-Oh. As it stands, I would fully expect this adventure to end up on MST3K if the series is ever resurrected.

Zeiram DVD (click for larger image)Hey, at least Tokyo Shock actually put in some special features this time. This reviewer was amazed. It was almost a cause for celebration after the total lack of respect the DVD of Zee-Oui: The Man Eater got. The U.S. and Japanese promo trailers for the film do nothing but show how one should not make a trailer. The American trailer has a quick voice-over intro, then random clips that make the film look like more of a mess than anything else. Screw those features right in their dirty asses, and move on to the last one on the list.

The making-of featurette also doubles as an interview of director Keita Amemiya and actress Yuko Moriyama. This piece is certainly no cheerleading promo but an actual look at what went into bringing Zeiram to the screen. There is plenty of behind-the-scenes footage with snippets of the interview thrown in. It may not be in-depth or lengthy, but at least we got something.

In all honesty it may be a wiser decision to just get a couple of cheap anime movies than sitting through Zeiram. You’d probably get more action and possibly a more laughable English language track. However, if you’ve been looking for the original version of this film with the native dialect intact, then this is the DVD for you. For those of you who have rubber suit fetishes, you are also in luck especially if you like E.T. or at least an inbred version of him. Anyone out there have any mental floss I could borrow? Thanks, I’ll wait.

Special Features
Japanese promo trailer
U.S. promo trailer
“Making-of” with interviews of director Keita Amemiya and star Yuko Moriyama
Original Japanese and English dubbing


2 1/2 out of 5

Special Features:

3 out of 5

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Mike Phalin

Mike Phalin is a contributing writer, reality television star and engineer.

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