To those not familiar with the work of Japanese Director Noboru Iguchi, a film about man-eating sushi may seem like the most absurd of all movie premises. However when one takes into consideration the fact that one of Iguchi’s last Fantastic Fest offerings revolved around evil “toilet” zombies (Zombie Ass)… well, perhaps killer tuna doesn’t sound that ridiculous after all.
The story follows Keiko, our young and deadly protagonist (played by martial arts master Rina Takeda) who runs away from home in order to escape the rigorous training doled out by her indignantly haughty father, who is both a sushi chef and martial arts master. Devoid of a money and in need of a roof over her head, she decides to take up refuge in a conspicuous country inn known primarily for its gorgeous waitresses and supposed top notch sushi offerings.
Almost instantly Keiko becomes a point of ridicule both by the inn’s wait staff and their high dollar clientele, a group of pharmaceutical businessmen who could just as easily be mistaken for Yakuza (not that there really is a difference). However for Keiko and the rest of the inn’s occupants, this is all just the tip of the iceberg. You see, a disgruntled former employee of Komatsu Pharmaceuticals has entered the picture, and his serum, which turns every day seafood into hideous flesh eating monsters, is about to plunge their world into chaos, and reverse their position on the pecking order.
By now you are probably aware that this is likely not the type of movie you would want to take your folks to. Dead Sushi’s perverse and immature comedic meanderings are most definitely not for everyone. But if you can cast aside your need for a coherent plot, and transport yourself to a day when you still thought toilet humor was insanely funny, well then you’ll find Dead Sushi to be one hell of a fun ride. I mean the film has everything you could possibly want from flying squid, to knife fighting vixens, and even a talking Tamago sushi companion by the name of “Eggy”. Oh and don’t forget the accompanying soundtrack which sounds like an eerie mix of The Aquabats and a Final Fantasy boss fight. What’s not to love here?
Many times you’ll hear actors talk about how their favorite Directors are the ones who create a “playground” for them. When you watch an Iguchi film, or even meet the man in person, you become very aware that he instead is just creating an ideal playground for himself, and all his friends are invited. He’s a lot like that kid from Blank Check. Somehow he has come into a little bit of money, and is content to spend it indulging just about any childish whim that pops into his mind. However in this version, the role previously occupied by Sinbad, will now be played by consistent collaborator Yoshihiro Nishimura, whose outlandishly over the top special effects have become requisite staples of many of Iguchi’s films. For all its absurdity Dead Sushi is truly a film made by a bunch of like-minded Japanese Lost Boys who are all just trying to have fun and make each other laugh, and it shows. Iguchi loves to make his actors and his audiences squirm, and they love him all the more for it.
Do not be fooled by this film’s exceedingly low budget. This is still the same man who last year won Fantastic Fest’s Director Award for his epic karate robot film, Karate-Robo Zaborgar, a film which was exceedingly superior to any Michael Bay production, and only cost a tiny fraction of one. Hidden beneath the surface of this man’s ridiculous comedic prose lays an auteur. His style reflects a passion for Anime, Manga, and ridiculous 70’s TV shows, and is executed on a budget that is still significantly lower than those of many student films coming out of USC these days. Sure, it’s not as good as some of his most recent offerings, but it’ll at least help you to work out some of those unused muscles in your cheeks! For people like me, it’s also yet just another reason to avoid seafood altogether!