Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buried Masterpiece: Versus

Well, we've mentioned earlier that we would throw up buried treasures on the site or on our podcast whenever they came up and since it looks like it will be a little while before we actually get another podcast recorded and posted, I figured I'd go ahead and toss this one up there. And yes, not only is it a buried treasure, it's a buried freaking masterpiece.

Alright, let me give you just a little bit of background on this find: last week yours truly and the other hosts of the Ani-Dictators ran over to a used entertainment shop (CDs, books, games, movies, the works) and I stumbled across the kickass cover that you see as the picture for this post, without the director's cut and all that mess, so I asked Sam, our big foreign film guy, if he'd ever heard of it. He said that he hadn't but I was like, 'It's only three bucks for a VHS, why not?' and picked it up.

So for the rest of the week I was too busy with work and other things that are much less important and just now got around to dusting off and hooking up the old VCR. I tossed the movie in and after a little bit of fanagling with the cords I got it to work. All I can say is, 'Wow.'

The movie opens with a scene of a person getting cleaved in half and then a samurai fighting a score of zombies before he gets sliced in half as well. After seeing the cover of the tape, it was a little unexpected that it would start off in the 1500s, but I wasn't too worried. I mean if an opening like that doesn't draw you in, you clearly are not a man. Anyway, I sat down and got comfortable with a little grin on my face, knowing that this would be a great film.

Well, it's the story of two prisoners who escape from a prison compound and wind up in the middle of a demonic portal to the netherealm or somesuch, what really matters is that whoever dies in this forest comes back as a zombie, and not just any zombie, an uberstrong and kickass zombie that can use guns and knives and such. Looks like a handful doesn't it?

That's not even the start.

Not only is our hero, the escapee, facing the many zombies that are running amok in the forest, but he also has to face a gang of total badasses that he just happened to really piss off at the beginning of the movie because he killed one of their members and ran off with a girl the kidnapped. Confusing, yeah I know, but it gets better, I promise.

So anyway, you've got about a half dozen badasses running around in a forest, chasing down another badass who's protecting a girl, with uberzombies trying to kill them all off. Yeah, so if you can't tell, you're in for one hell of a great action movie. Not only is this the basic premise for the first hour, but you also get to watch it shot with a guerilla cam that slides from doubletime to slow motion more than 300, and what's better is it's all filmed on what I believe to be an old Super8, giving it a very 80s independent film look.

All of this is a plus for me, but if you're still not convinced let me add this: I believe that this movie was filmed as just an experiment in sheer badassness. Seriously, everyone in this movie, and I mean everyone, is a total badass capable of giving even Chuck Norris a run for his money. And when these guys start trying to kill each other, it's amazing. Blood everywhere, splattered all over everyone's face that no one bothers to wipe off, massively oversized guns, insane gore, psycho characters, and a whole lot of screaming. There isn't much that this film could've done better, and on the cheap budget that I'm sure it was on, it's was amazing.

The biggest problem I had with this movie was trying to decide whether or not it's trying to be serious, I figured out a little past midway through that it really wasn't trying all that hard to be serious and at that point, the movie got a whole hell of a lot better. There are several moments when you're sort of like, 'Did that guy seriously just do that?' And the answer is yes, the answer is always yes.

Take for example, 'Did that guy just pull that dead guy who was barbed wired to a tree down just so he could take his leather jacket?' The answer, 'Yes, because every badass main character needs a leather jacket and there's only so many ways a person in a forest could obtain one. So yes, he did just pull that dead guy from the tree just for the jacket.'

If that doesn't make you want to see this, I don't know what will.

I will tell you this though, about midway through the plot takes a major change that you sort of don't see coming, not that it's a bad thing or anything like that, you just don't really see it coming. And the ending is rather open but apparently they're in the process of making the sequel as we speak so all I've got to say is, 'Rock on and keep 'em coming.'

Fans of the super gory and manly will fall in love with this film twenty minutes in, fans of Go Nagai will fall in love with this film fifteen minutes in, fans of Japanese cult cinema will have already fallen in love with this film when it first came out. So yes you hotblooded Go Nagai fans and you people who preordered Machine Girl, you need to check this one out.

Basically, I'm saying that no matter who you are, espiecially if you agree with our opinions on the podcast, you need to see this film, or at least put it on your list so that when you walk into an FYE and see the Director's Cut of it on the shelf you'll be able to say, 'Hey, that movie's supposedly totally badass, I think I'll pick it up.'

You won't be disappointed.
9.5 out of 10.