Anime Reporter tentatively tastes the latest work to come from cult Japanese film director Noboru Iguchi, ( of The Machine Girl, Robo-Geisha and Zombie Ass notoriety); Dead Sushi (-“The Sushi Bites Back!”).
Keiko, played by Rina Takeda (High Kick Girl, Karate Girl), is a young runaway sushi chef in training who is forced to confront the source of her fears in a way she never expected. When Yamada, a disgraced ex-employee of a pharmaceutical company, seeks revenge on those who betrayed him, the hotel resort Keiko works at is overrun by a delicious but deadly plague. Yamada uses a specially designed serum to reanimate sushi, creating an army of monsters that will stop at nothing to devour every last person within the resort. With her knowledge of sushi and her martial arts training, Keiko is the only hope for survival against this most unlikely of threats.
Although this is her first leading role in a comedy movie, Takeda portrays a likeable enough protagonist. A black belt in karate, she has displayed impressive martial arts abilities in the past, but spends most of this movie attacking computer generated sushi rolls. There are some fight scenes against other people, though these are little more than excuses for physical humour, (one scene in particular containing no fewer than 12 crotch strikes with corresponding bug eyed grimaces) with over the top acting from the supporting cast and poor cinematography often making it impossible to take the action seriously,
Given Iguchi’s earlier career in the adult film industries and the content of such films as Zombie Ass (“Toilet of the Dead”) and his contribution to the ABC’s of Death (F is for Fart), Dead Sushi is surprisingly free of bodily functions or toilet humour with just a handful of adult moments making it anything other than a children’s horror movie.
The special effects for the killer sushi rolls are quite mediocre with regard to CGI, but there is some rather impressive use of puppetry, which, mixed with the sinister laughing and muttering of the sushi rolls is instantly reminiscent of the Gremlins movies. (In fact Iguchi actually references Joe Dante and the Gremlins movies as an influence during the bonus Making Of segment of the Dead Sushi DVD). Each particular type of sushi roll takes on its own distinctive appearance, often displaying different deadly powers and abilities, creating a semblance of personality for each piece of sushi. The makeup effects for some of the more unusual injuries which take place during the film are bizarre but realistic enough for the film’s purposes, though realism should be far from a priority for anyone watching this film.
Viewers are asked to suspend disbelief more than a few times as the plot twists and turns with reckless abandon. In truth, anything from an ancient curse to a ghost fish would create a more plausible device for this movie, with scientific reasoning being tossed aside instantly after it is hailed as the origin for zombie sushi rolls. There is definite humour and personality throughout this movie, though there is little opportunity to care whether or not everyone dies in it. Aside from Keiko, only one human, Sawada, the kindly old gardener, has any likeable traits. Eggy, an egg sushi roll is easily the most likeable character throughout the entire film.
Dead Sushi is very difficult to evaluate as a movie, for a person who grows up seeing this movie, it could easily become something seen as a classic, but taken anew as a horror film, it falls quite flat. This movie can very easily be an enjoyable, even hilarious way to spend an evening, assuming that it’s viewed by a room containing nobody who takes it too seriously. There are definite moments where it sails quite neatly into the “so stupid, it’s genius” arena and without doubt it will find its fanbase. Anyone looking to be genuinely terrified should perhaps look elsewhere, but those seeking an evening of harmless but dark humour where the brain can take a backseat, need look no further.
Dead Sushi is currently available on DVD and Blu ray.
Special Effects: 5.5
59% “Dead Sushi might not be to everyone’s tastes, but for some, it might just hit the spot.”