“Helldriver” is another preposterous splatter film by the master of the genre, Yoshihiro Nishimura, this time engaging on zombies.
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The “story” unfolds as follows: Taku and his sister Rikka are a couple of roaming sadistic murderers who eventually decide to kill her abandoned husband. During the act, his daughter Kika arrives and attacks the couple. Subsequently, a meteorite falls on Rikka, releasing a toxic gas that transforms every resident of northern Japan into a zombie, and her into their queen. Some years later, the country is split in half by a wall that separates the healthy population of the south part from the zombies in the north. The government hires Kika, who is now a skilled zombie killer, to lead a team of outlaws to the north, to kill the zombie queen.
Not to forget, the only way for someone to kill a zombie is to cut a kind of Y-shaped appendage situated on their head. Furthermore, this appendage, when made into powder, becomes a very addictive drug. And I will stop here now.
Nishimura, as usual, incorporates as much absurdity as possible in the film, starting with the movie’s titles that appear after almost half an hour has passed. Furthermore, the zombie boxer, the guards with the peculiar helmets, and a fighting scene involving a kind of pole dancing are only a few of the irrational scenes and notions appearing here. Apart from these, his usual tendencies are also present: constant bloodbaths, surreal humor, impressive battles and a rudimentary effort for social remark, specifically concerning drugs and racism.
The technical aspect is quite impressive for a splatter. With him doing his own editing, the film retains a frantic pace, that mostly looks like a collage of his preposterous ideas than an actual movie. Shu G. Momose’s cinematography manages to follow on these crazy ideas and the 6 members of the visual effects team manage to make them into reality. Both tasks could be perceived as colossal. The 7 special make up effects artists have done a spectacular job under his supervision, as is the case with Minori Niizaki who is responsible for the costume designs.
Yumiko Hara plays Kika and Eihi Shiina, who has become Nishimura’s regular, Rikka. Expectantly, talking about acting in a splatter film is futile, to say the least, since the actors just exist to provide a background to the violence and the special effects. Shiina’s presence, though, is as cult as always.
“Helldriver” is a film addressed to very few, but fans of Nishimura and slapstick splatter are bound to enjoy it.