Tag Archives: takashi miike

Yakuza Apocalypse


“Taste of my blood. And walk as a Yakuza vampire.”

So yeah, after all these Oscar-bait movies we’ve been, err, treated to lately, what I needed for a bit of a break was a decent palette cleanser. Something truly stupid that I didn’t have to concentrate on and could switch off and enjoy for a bit. A good silly film.

I should have been careful what I wished for.

The latest cinematic entry from legendary director Takashi Miike – the nutter behind classics like Audition and Ichi the Killer – has found its way into a whole three cinemas in the country (or VOD in a butt load of other territories) so I headed off to find myself a little indie picture house to get myself a piece of the latest bit of Miike craziness.

Akira Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara) is a young member of the local Yakuza, still learning the ropes and finding his place in the world. A turf war with a rival gang leads to his boss being killed in the street and his head being twisted off and left for Kageyama to retrieve. But while apologising to the disembodied head, it comes back to life and insists that he drink blood from the manky, torn apart neck of the old gang leader. Before Akira has a chance to question the dead head, it leaps from his hands and takes a bite from his neck, turning the man into a vampire!

Stay with me…

Kageyama’s instant transformation from man to vampire and his bloodlust mean that once he gets up off his arse, he’s heading around and biting the throats of anyone he can find and turning them into… wait for it… Yakuza vampires! Yep. Yakuza Vampires! Insanity ensues as the town fills with vampires horribly fast and as each one believes they are also a part of the Yakuza, they chase down other Yakuza to kill too!

Now, those of you that haven’t seen a Takashi Miike film before, I should tell you now that the guy is twisted! You’ll never read a synopsis of one of his films and have an idea of what you’re letting yourself in for; this is most true with his very bizarre definition of the word “Comedy”! In reality, Yakuza Apocalypse is two hours of the goofy director’s brain spewed across the screen in many and varied wonderful colours. Starting off very straight and almost serious, Yakuza Apocalypse quickly descends into bat-shit crazy territory as a weird dude dressed up like a cowboy priest, including spurs on his damn boots, takes out the boss with his partner, an unnamed bloke who would just look like a tourist in his glasses, high waisted jeans and plaid shirt if it wasn’t for the fact that you can easily spot The Raid‘s Yayan Ruhian under those glasses.

Talking heads quickly appear to be the most sane thing to be coming from the screen as we are treated to a room filled with men chained to tables all knitting scarves as their captor – for reasons best known to himself – walks around in massive wooden sandals stomping on the sewing circle’s feet. Kageyama is taught how to be a vampire via an old man with pre-prepared chalk boards and blank pieces of paper; and brains exploding out of people’s ears like a giant zit being popped!

But the ultimate moment of what-the-fuckery, the dude in a giant furry frog suit, wandering around karate chopping the shit out of the Yakuza! No explanation, no dialogue; just some dodgy mind controlling eyes, some time with a baseball bat and a shit load of Karate! To explain the frog further would ruin him, but suffice to say that by the time he’s explained, you know what’s coming, but that doesn’t stop it from being completely ridiculous and chuckle inducing.

Yakuza Apocalypse makes no apologies for what it is. It is a completely bonkers horror comedy that is horrendously bloody, but equally as funny. The comedy bounces brazenly between hilarious and eyebrow raising weirdness and while it’s not the greatest flick you’re going to watch, it’s got more moments that’ll leave you going “what the FUCK?” than any other film I’ve seen recently. Would I say you must watch it? No, absolutely not. But I would say that it’s worth taking a look at if the idea of furries beating the shit out of vampire yakuza is one that makes you smile.

It’s that kind of weird-funny that you get when you are deliriously tired and find everything just absolutely hilarious. I wasn’t sure what I was letting myself in for; Takashi is definitely a bit of an acquired taste and I much prefer his darker films; but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Yakuza Apocalypse.

Film4 FrightFest 2015 Preview

It’s that time again where give the batteries in our torches a quick shake to get them working, brush the cobwebs out of the cellar doorway and gingerly tip-toe through the darkness and tap-tap-tap on the lid to the coffin where we keep Mike Shawcross. Come on, Mike. Time to wake up, drink the blood of a few buxom-virgins and tell us what you’ll personally be seeing at this year’s FrightFest, following yesterday’s announcement from Film4.

by Mike Shawcross (@Shawky1969)

Another year, another FrightFest and the UK’s première genre festival continues to grow and grow. In its 16th year it continues to impress with what looks to be an incredible line up, another screen and more parties. There does seem an aspect to bring the FrightFest community together with a few more social events. The Duke Mitchell Club was fantastic fun last year and one event I will be visiting this year. We have a Karaoke party as well (not for me!)

As for the films, so many I want to see, so many I’m going to have to miss out on… bigger festival more choice, bigger headache. Over the last few years the Discovery screens have shown the breakout films, the gems people talk about for weeks to come. The Borderlands was last year’s big discovery film; I wonder what will it be this year?

turbo kidOpening night brings monster wasps with Stung, post-apocalyptic sci-fi Turbo Kid and Irish witch-horror Cherry Tree; although personally I think Turbo Kid stands out here. Friday on the main screen and highlights look like We Are Still Here, a ghost story with vengeful spirits [which Paul Field recently raved about on the Failed Critics Podcast]. James Wan delivers more horror as producer on Demonic. I do like his work so will be staying in my seat for this one. Hellions looks interesting, starring Chloe Rose as she attempts to survive from trick-or-treaters from Hell on Halloween night. In the discovery screen 1 – Aaaaaaaah! from Steve Oram looks worth a watch, starring Toyah Willcox. Horror-comedy Bloodsucking Bastards is another one I’ll be checking out. DS 2 (Discovery Screen 2) we have III, a Russian film blending religious iconography with a violent disease, which I’ve been interested in for a while, and Final Girl, which sounds fun with Abigail Breslin as a lethal assassin hunting down a gang of murderers preying on young females! Creature-feature The Sand I may be staying off the beach for…

I’ve told you there is far too much choice! In DS 3 on Friday Zombie Fright Club could be great fun! Martial arts and zombies? Of course I’m IN! Body looks a possible selection as well as three girls break into the wrong mansion. As for the Eugene McGing’s haunted house mystery thriller The Unfolding…? I’ll wait to see what people think of that one first!

Into Saturday then and Shut In might be worth the early morning watch, starring Macaulay’s brother Rory Culkin. Bait is Dominc Brunt’s (you know Paddy from Emmerdale) second feature as a director; a true-life crime thriller starring Victoria Smurfit. Frankenstein has a strong cast with Carrie-Ann Moss, Danny Huston, Tony Todd and Xavier Samuel, directed by Bernard Rose (Candyman) and I fancy this one. Black magic goes awry in Deathgasm which sounds fun and, depending on if I get in, the Film4 screen is perfect for late night horror. If you like documentaries then there is Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD in DS1. I tend to miss them as I prefer feature films, but I’ve heard extremely good things about this documentary. The Hallow sounds like a must see film; a success at Sundance and directed by Corin Hardy (who will direct The Crow reboot), set in Ireland this horror film is full of demonic monsters in the woods. I’d love to see the zom-rom-com Night of the Living Deb, featuring Ray Wise, but it will clash with Deathgasm… choices, choices, choices! DS2 shows Another Me, starring Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) stalked by a doppelgänger, which looks good. DS 3 screens a few retro showings and the Duke Mitchell events!

Sunday and, after the success of The Babadook, Inner Demons must be worth a visit. I’ve seen these kinds of films before at FrightFest, but a Christmas horror story surprisingly doesn’t really seem out of place in August and is another to consider.over your dead body

I can’t resist a Takashi Miike film, so looks like I’ll be in the DS 1 first thing for Over Your Dead Body. More end of the world drama in These Final Hours and Summer Camp (from the team behind [REC]) may be worth viewing. Think I’ll miss high-school reunion slasher Most Likely to Die. Over in DS 2 more retro screenings with Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, cult fantasy film Hawk The Slayer and 80’s classic Hellraiser…. All of which I’ll miss! April Mullen has a second film at FrightFest after showing 88 in Glasgow earlier this year. I liked action-thriller 88, so on that basis alone I may look at Farhope Tower, even though not much more information has been released about this yet.

Monday is the toughest day of the festival! The twisted comedy about a sarcastic ex-girlfriend coming back from the dead, Nina Forever, looks interesting – as does the UK première of Emelie. And then we have one of my highlights – Tales of Halloween, the closing film and an anthology film, with directors Adam Gierasch, Axelle Carolyn, Neil Marshall and Lucky McKee joining in the fun. Big film to end on.

DS1 presents Paul Hyett’s Howl (which I saw a trailer for in Glasgow) and sees a group trapped on a train overnight with an unknown create – and I think I’m going to give it a go. The Lazarus Effect in DS 2 has a decent cast with Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplas and Sarah Bolger (who is also in Emelie) and sounds like a modern day Flatliners. In DS 3, Banjo (from FrightFest regular Liam Regan) is showing, starring Laurence R. Harvey and Dan Palmer – this will be on my list!

This year there will be 3 short showcases. I have to mention these as (and unashamedly plugged) I have worked on three films which have been sent for selection, so I may be in a couple of these showcases!!!!

Overall a hugely impressive line-up. You can listen to me and the rest of the Failed Critics on the podcast [to be released on 3rd September] as I uncover the best and worst of the festival for 2015!

Film4 FrightFest will be held in London on 27th – 31st August 2015 and you can find more details on their website. Tickets go on sale at noon tomorrow.