Helldriver (2010) Review

Helldriver Reviewby Colleen Wanglund, MoreHorror.com

Released in the United States by WellgoUSA in November, the new HELLDRIVER DVD/Blu-ray is chock full of low-budget zombie goodness. Originally released theatrically by Sushi Typhoon, bastard child of Japan’s Nikkatsu Corporation, HELLDRIVER takes a unique and funny look at the zombie apocalypse.

An alien life form has turned the world’s worst mother into the queen bitch of zombies and proceeds to spew a dark ash into the skies over Northern Japan. The country has been split in two with a wall built to protect Southern Japan from being overrun by hungry zombies. With the north reduced to an apocalyptic wasteland the south has become overcrowded by survivors and food and living space is at a premium. The current administration wants to wipe out the zombies and take back the country, so they send a “volunteer” group on a suicide mission to locate the queen so she and her zombie minions can be destroyed. Among this group of mercenaries is Kika, the zombie queen’s daughter, who now has a mechanical heart and a bad-ass chainsaw katana.

The ragtag group of misfits, including a dude who runs an orphanage for children whose parents have become zombies, and a boy who wants to find his missing sister, venture beyond the wall to complete their mission. What follows is a road/revenge flick of epic low-budget zombie proportions.

At its heart HELLDRIVER is social and political satire. The county’s political and military factions debate publically over what to do about the current crisis. People protest in the streets over the question of who or what the zombies are….after all, they were alive once. They are family members and friends. The movie is directed by Japanese Special Effects guru Yoshihira Nishimura, who created some unique and beautiful zombies.

HELLDRIVER is a modern splatter comedy with a few sinister surprised that are truly creepy.

The cast is amazing, boasting Japanese horror actress Eihi Shiina (AUDITION 1999) as the twisted and sadistic zombie queen. Kentaro Kishi does a fantastic turn as the comically sinister brother and Yumiko Hara plays Kika, the damaged heroine who wants her revenge for years of abuse at the hands of her mother and uncle. Sushi Typhoon and the people involved are doing some very cool things in the Japanese horror movie industry. To quote director Iguchi Noboru, “In Japan, we’re pissing off a lot of people with them [movies]. That’s Sushi Typhoon!”

In addition to HELLDRIVER, the WellgoUSA disc includes some awesome extras….and Lord knows I love extras! There is the twenty-minute “Sushi Typhoon Invades Tokyo” documenting Sushi Typhoon’s home opener, if you will. It includes some really fun interviews with Nishimura and Noboru, as well as Eihi Shiina, Yumiko Hara, producer Yoshinori Chiba, directors Tak Sakaguchi and Yudai Yamaguchi, and actors Ken Kishi and Demo Tanaka (who are hilarious), among others. The featurette was directed and filmed by Norman England, who is also responsible for HELLDRIVER’s subtitling as well as still photography.

There are also three shorts that are spinoffs of the original movie’s story. “Helldriver Dokata” takes place one hundred days later and is about a lonely zombie who begins hitting golf balls with messages on them to find friends. It’s a rather depressing story with some fight scenes that I thought came up a bit short. “Catch Me if You Can” is about two women at an evacuation center—one who cannot walk and her childhood friend. A man and some zombies come between them in this off-beat short that was better than “Helldriver Dokata” but whose special effects I found sorely lacking. Finally “Bailout!”, the longest at just under twenty minutes is a brilliant story about what survivors stuck behind the wall do to stay alive. It’s creepy, unexpected and disturbing and I actually think this would make an awesome full-length feature all on its own. “Bailout!” is written, directed and edited by artist Yoshiki Takahashi, who also did the visual effects and titling. And he is the bad-ass artist behind the cool poster art for Sushi Typhoon’s movies.

If splatter/horror/comedy is your thing, then this disc is a must-get for your movie collection. I highly recommend it.

Comments

Submitted by KAREN (not verified) on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 03:14

KAREN's picture

Somehow your reviews could make me want to see anything ! :)

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