Following the well-received ‘Strange Days,’ director Yasushi Koshizaka set his sights on a new entry in the J-sploitation genre to continue his status of the ‘Warden of J-sploitation’ nickname that has been bestowed upon him. Taking up a new look at the alien abduction genre, he now presents his new film ‘Kankin wakusei amêba,’ or known internationally as “Planet of Amoebas” at the Japan Film Fest Hamburg.
While driving home from her day, Rei Mizuki (Nanami Kawakami) witnesses a woman lying in the street covered in a strange goo and warning of a threat from space before she passes. Relaying the information to the authorities, she learns of the real nature of the incident and how several other strange disappearances around the city are related to the events she reported. After talking to her friend Chiba (Hiroki Ando) about the situation, he begins looking into the reported cases of women disappearing only to himself disappear during the ensuing investigation. Turning to her sister Ami (Rina Hatsusaki) to help process the situation, they find themselves the target of strange alien-like amoebas looking to abduct women in order to procreate with them and must team up with the Defense Ministry investigating the events in order to stop the creatures from taking over the Earth.
For the most part, ‘Planet of Amoebas’ wasn’t too bad and did have some positive aspects. One of the better features here is the investigation and build-up in the first half regarding the strange incident Rei witnesses. With the reliance on the determination to resolve the properties of the strange liquid that covers the woman’s body and how it affects their reproductive state, there’s a rather strong starting point to get into the later half here. As well, with the whole plotline featuring the alien ships in the skies over the city but unable to be seen with the technology present due to their cloaking methods and taking women to be impregnated with their own kind adds a special sense of space horror to the equation. With the abduction sequence and eventual capture by the authorities where everything gets revealed about the alien beings mission to come to Earth that’s revealed in this sequence, there’s quite a lot to like here with this setup.
Also rather enjoyable is the exploitation elements brought on through this storyline by writers Ryota Takahashi and director Koshizaka. Given that the aliens are after human women, the scenes showing the girls getting abducted by the liquid blob-like aliens are rather nicely accomplished, offering glimpses yet never allowing for a full-on look at them. Those are saved for the rape scenes onboard their ship where the chained-up women are subjected to continuous sequences of the gooey aliens crawling over their naked, undulated bodies in a simulation of their impregnation. Once back on Earth and the creatures are able to get free from Ami’s body, there’s some fun to be had with the amorphous blob overrunning and swallowing the various workers in the facility for some solid action scenes. Given that there’s plenty of nudity here with the raped women and the general concept of the creatures coming to Earth in order to procreate, there’s some fun to be had with these elements.
There are some problems with ‘Amoebas.’ The film’s biggest problem is the amount of padding in such a short running time, featuring several plotlines that don’t need to be there. There’s little reason to include the testing of the surveillance equipment or the backstory involving Rei standing up for Ami at school, threatening the bullies in the flashback, as scenes like these are wholly unnecessary. Neither of them tells much about the incidents at large or give us extra character development, and with such a short running time it’s really not needed to have them in here to pad out the running time. All they do is simply keep all the abduction scenes and investigations into the incident to bare minimum requirements in the film. As well, the effects are somewhat shoddy and clearly resemble a person covered in a strange pink tarp with CGI enhancements over the screen which can take some viewers out of the film, but that’s still a part of the genre and really doesn’t affect this much.
Featuring a few small issues that don’t have too much bearing on the film overall, ‘Planet of Amoebas’ comes off far more fun than expected and serves as a wholly watchable genre effort. Give this one a chance if you’re into those kinds of low-budget exploitation features or are curious about this kind of film, while those that don’t appreciate that genre or would be put off by the flaws should heed caution.