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Movie Review: Genocyber

Genocyber

Released: 1994
Genre: Anime / Science Fiction / Horror
IMDB Rating: 6.3 / 10

Down here in the southern hemisphere we’re either experiencing the harshest winter ever or I’m getting old enough that my knees can tell me when it’s going to rain. Something about this made my brain decide that the day would best be spent in bed with a flapjack stack, a well-made pot of tea, and some horrifyingly gory and graphic anime. I must admit, despite some reservations, that my brain’s idea was a solid one – the flapjack stack was amazing, the pot of tea was satisfyingly soothing, and Genocyber taught me that I haven’t become entirely desensitised to that particularly Japanese blend of body mutilation.

Next gen VR systems look intense.

Next gen VR systems look intense.

The Plot

As with the other anime I’ve reviewed Genocyber is divided into five episodes spanning three story arcs – I’ll break the plot down by the story arcs.

Episode 1: A New Life Form

In the 21st century mankind dares to dream of a Utopian world racked by violence: as the world’s developing nations prepare to form a single united government, Kenneth Reed, with funding from the Japanese Kuryu Group, is working to create the Genocyber, the world’s ultimate weapon. He will do this by harnessing the Vajra (psychic) energy of sisters Elaine and Diana and melding them together, thus forming the Genocyber.

The problem is that the initial experiment only called for one child to be born, and the disruption to their Vajra at the time of birth resulted in Elaine being born feral and Diana being born with virtually no muscle control in her body. When Elaine, imbued with more Vajra than the designers could ever have imagined, manages to escape Kenneth sends Diana in a very fetching mechanical suit all around Hong Kong to find her and bring her back. At the same time a gang of cybernetically-enhanced government agents are also looking for Elaine, and aren’t scared to leave a trail of corpses in their wake if it means getting the job done.

When Elaine merges with Diana to protect herself, and thus becomes the Genocyber, Hong Kong is in for a literal hell ride as the beast fights to defend itself.

Episodes 2 and 3: Vajranoid Attack & Global War

Shortly after the events of the first episode the great and well-known nation of Karain has decided that it doesn’t need to be part of the United Nations or the new world government and decides to go rogue and attack its neighbour. Sadly a routine bombing of a small beach goes horribly wrong when a helicopter fleet blows the ever-loving shit out of Elaine’s friends while the group was innocently frolicking.

Elaine, shocked from the attack and exhausted from blowing up helicopters, is taken aboard the Alexandria, a US supercarrier en route to Karain to bring peace to the region by force. The supercarrier, having received images of the Genocyber blowing up helicopters with no apparent motive, asks the Kuryu Group for assistance if they come across the monster. Kuryu’s response: the Vajranoid. While you could be forgiven for thinking that this name denotes some kind of giant murderous vagina, the Vajranoid is actually an automaton imbued with Vajra energy that can meld with any piece of machinery it comes into contact with, making it the perfect war machine.

Unfortunately the Vajranoid identifies Elaine as a hostile target and sets out to kill her. Elaine, not one to be outdone, knows virtually nothing other than how to fight back. When the Vajranoid, under the instruction of its insane creator Dr Sakomizu, absorbs all the souls of those on board the Alexandria to bolster its own power, even the Genocyber is going to have a bit of a time bringing the situation under control.

Now relax and count back slowly from 10.

Now relax and count back slowly from 10.

Episodes 4 and 5: Legend of Ark de Grande City (Parts 1 & 2)

Set 300 years after the previous three episodes, Ark de Grande City is one of the last surviving cities in the world following centuries of destruction across the globe by the Genocyber. Diana eventually managed to convince Elaine that their power was too much for this world, and the Genocyber essentially went into a prolonged hibernation.

Ark de Grande City is the ultimate realisation of the violent Utopia dreamed of in the first episode – clean, efficient, safe, and ruled with an iron fist by a mayor who (quite literally) crushes any dissent or minor infringement that threatens the stability and order of the city. Of course, as is true in all similar situations, a group will rise up to fight its oppressors. The rebels in Ark de Grande City are a Christian sect who believe the Genocyber to be God and its centuries of destruction to be God’s wrath on mankind for their sins. They discovered the husk of the Genocyber’s body when Elaine and Diana pulled their combined consciousness from it and keep it in their Church deep beneath Ark de Grande City.

Things take a turn for the worse when Ryu and Mel, a young couple on the run from Ark de Grande’s authorities, fall through the roof of the Church into the room with the Genocyber’s body. Through a convoluted series of events Diana begins to call Mel ‘big sister’; Mel, wanting revenge on Ark de Grande for its treatment of her and Ryu, merges her consciousness with Diana and Elaine, creating an enormous and even more violent version of the Genocyber to reign terror down on one of man’s final bastions of civilisation.

Mel would forever regret the things she did for a Klondike bar.

Mel would forever regret the things she did for a Klondike bar.

The Visuals

As I become more and more of an expert in this field, I feel that I can say with confidence that this particular set of episodes was suitably animated. The only thing I didn’t like was in the first episode where the animation was superimposed over real-life photographs; neither the animation or the photography have aged well enough for this to look good in 2016, but it’s a minor gripe and it only happened in the first episode.

Of course it’s the little things that really matter when you’re watching this sort of thing – when a character’s skull and spine are being ripped out through their heads you want your own spine to twitch a little bit; when a character’s hand is split in two to reveal a secret mini-chainsaw, you want your own hand to tingle a little bit (that uncomfortable, slightly itching tingle between the fingers – you know the one); and when a child’s head is blown to pink mist you really want to feel the need to reach for a tissue to wipe the spray off your face. Genocyber offers you all this and so much more!

It's called fashion, mother.

It’s called fashion, mother.

The Feelings

Moderately disgusted.

What Genocyber taught me was that it’s not that I’ve become desensitised to on-screen violence, it’s just that there are certain types of violence that creep me out more than others. Unlike the Urotsukidōji OVAs Genocyber doesn’t abound in sexual violence, and it’s that type of violence that makes my skin crawl. Also unlike the Urotsukidōji OVAs the violence in Genocyber isn’t constant, but rather delivered in short controlled bursts – when it happens it’s quite horrific, but there’s enough time between the various instances to allow your nerves time to recenter themselves before they have to have another go at it.

All in all Genocyber is by no means the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, despite all that I’d heard about it, but it’s disgusting enough that if you like splatter anime you’ll have a good time with it. Despite it also being the master of the anticlimax, where the end of each story arc really falls terrifically flat, the rest of the story leading up to that is quite competent and reasonably easy to follow.

My Final Rating: 6 / 10
Buy Genocyber at Amazon.com

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Posted by on July 7, 2016 in Movie Review

 

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Movie Review: Urotsukidōji IV: Inferno Road

Urotsukidoji IV

Released: 1995
Genre: Anime / Horror
IMDB Rating: 5.7 / 10

The road to hell, as some would have you believe, is paved with good intentions. Having concluded my viewing of Urotsukidōji part four (armed with parasol, wet wipes and some Dettol to be on the safe side) I must argue that the road to hell is actually paved with semen and the sundered flesh of the innocent, with my morbid curiosity providing all the heavy machinery necessary to get us there.

I was very wary going into this, firstly because Return of the Overfiend had made my skin crawl and secondly because, from what I’d read online, Inferno Road is meant to be the most shocking and distasteful of the entire franchise. Now it’s absolutely true that Inferno Road is completely shocking and distasteful, but to my… um… I suppose “relief” will have to do here… it’s shocking and distasteful in the same way as the original Legend of the Overfiend. It’s a niche little title that won’t be to everyone’s taste, but at this point my standards are so low the fact that it didn’t have any incest-not-incest in it was enough to keep me going.

Just your average 10-year-old's birthday orgy.

Just your average 10-year-old’s birthday orgy.

The Plot

Thankfully this one was a lot easier to follow than its predecessor.

Picking up right where Return of the Overfiend left us, Buju, Himi (the Lord of Chaos) and the rest of the gang are on their way to Osaka to see the Overfiend, either to stop his deadly rampage or to help him with his deadly rampage – I don’t really have clarity on this point. Along the way Buju, Himi and old man Gashim get separated from the rest of the group and land up in a mysterious city blanketed in a very ominous bank of fog and ruled over by some even more ominous children. Unperturbed by the kids’ incredible psychic capabilities our little gang follows them back to their home for a little rest and respite before continuing with their arduous journey.

And nothing will give you the rest you need quite like an orgy comprised of the children’s parents, watched over and organised by the children themselves. Heading up this group of insanely powerful and malicious hell spawn are brothers Ellus and Phallus. While adulthood brings with it the apparent promise of enormous breasts, unending amounts of testosterone and the inability to feel pain during intercourse, for these kids it also means an end to their psychic abilities, and the brothers just won’t have that. To retain their youth they need to kill Himi and drink her blood; given that she’s more or less developed PTSD from witnessing the never-ending orgies and Buju’s too busy taking part in the never-ending orgies to be of any use the brothers may just be in with a shot to pull off their nefarious plan.

This story arc takes up the majority of the first two episodes (“The Secret Garden” and “The Long Road to God”) of this part of the OVA. It doesn’t add to the overall plot of the Overfiend and his plans in any great way, but it’s disturbingly entertaining nevertheless.

Well here's a kind of renewable energy the government doesn't want you to know about...

Well here’s a kind of renewable energy the government doesn’t want you to know about…

The third episode (The End of the Journey) picks up after Buju and co. manage to get out of the city of hell children and resume their journey to Osaka. Since most of the path to Osaka has been turned into a godless wasteland from a junkie’s worst acid trip they decide that air travel will be the best way to get there, and commandeer a Hell Worm to get them airborne. A Hell Worm’s a little like an Overlord from Starcraft except instead of listening to the Overmind it lives on the life essence and vaginal juices of abducted women.

Of course a trip to Osaka in an squirt-powered flesh balloon wouldn’t be complete without some kind of epic battle going down. Amano, our beloved anti-hero, has been floating around since we first came upon the evil children but hasn’t been doing awfully much. Now it’s his time to shine! Since Münchhausen II just cannot give it a fucking rest he decides to magically/sexually share his powers with Yoenki, the sister of Suikakujū from Legend of the Overfiend. Yoenki’s mad as hell at Amano for killing her brother, so the two of them have to duke it out while Buju and Gashim try to escape from a demon in the middle of the Hell Worm, Münchhausen II tries to abduct Himi in order to kill the Overfiend, and Himi battles with that very difficult time in every young woman’s life – her first period.

Reading over that it doesn’t sound like it makes a whole lotta sense, but if you watch it it’s done in such a way that you just might buy it.

Fashion at the 2055 Royal Wedding!

Fashion at the 2055 Royal Wedding!

The Visuals

Whatever Return of the Overfiend lacked, Inferno Road makes up for it. This entry just looked a lot more polished and put together, with the animation having a little more life to it than in previous installments.

And that’s just as well, because you can’t enjoy the sheer visceral horror that is Inferno Road without a little spit and polish. Without said spit and polish you wouldn’t be able to fully partake in the sensory assault of penis tails, penis appendages, penis tubes, penis tentacles and occasionally, when you least expect it, a regular human penis. And the less said about that one vagina that can warp space and time around it the better…

It’s a far cry from HD but for the early- to mid- 90s it’s about as close as your going to get.

She's overcome with the vapours.

She’s overcome with the vapours.

The Feelings

Mildly concerned that I contracted a strain of demonic gonorrhea, but reasonably entertained anyway.

I’m certain that Inferno Road should have left me feeling queasy and with a need to scrub my skin until it turned bright red before I felt clean again. The problem is that, between the four installments of this franchise and the terrible books I subject myself to, I think I’ve become so completely desensitised that nothing that happened in this approximately two-hour adventure could hurt me.

On an academic level I can tell you that what was flashing before my eyes was nothing but filth and general queefage, but like with a crying baby at midnight my mind chose to block it out and keep going. Stripped of that emotional impact what you’re left with is a heavily inappropriate story that, despite its overall weirdness, has a decent plot and characters that are more than just 2D sex dolls.

My Final Rating: 5 / 10
Buy Urotsukidōji IV: Inferno Road at Amazon.com

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Movie Review

 

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Movie Review: Funny Man

Funny Man

Released: 1994
Genre: Comedy / Horror
IMDB Rating: 4.6 / 10

Oh, the 90s. It was a glorious time where all the clothes were too baggy, cellphones were the size of a reasonable backpack, and (as this movie testifies to) a teenage girl could easily be mistaken for a man in his mid-40s. This is the era that birthed Funny Man. Combine that with the fact that it’s a British production and you know you’re in for a helluva ride. A somewhat uneven, disjointed and unnecessarily off-the-fourth-wall ride, but a ride nonetheless.

It all starts off innocently enough with a little 70s-style voodoo...

It all started off innocently enough with a little 70s-style voodoo…

The Plot

It’s a story as old as time itself. In a world dominated by so much palm print it could only have been stolen from the set of The Golden Girls once the show wrapped, Max Taylor finds himself gambling with people who might not seem the friendliest, but who would undoubtedly come in handy if you ever needed to hide the bodies of the family you just murdered. In this gambling game that escalated rather quickly, Max went from making some decent cash to winning a rather lavish mansion in an undisclosed part of Britain. He decides to move his family in as soon as possible, upon which he and his wife partake in a cocaine binge that single-handedly kept the Columbian economy afloat for several fiscal periods.

But life can’t just be all opulence and cocaine binges. These old houses always have something wrong with them – a leaky pipe, creaky floors, a porthole to a demonic jester’s village, you know? Every day problems. Forgetting to lay bait stations for the jester as one would for a cockroach infestation, the Funny Man goes on a rampage through the house, killing Max’s wife and two kids and leaving Max alone with nothing more than a slippery slide loaded with yet more cocaine and a one-way ticket to madness.

Not one to be left out of all the family fun, Max’s brother (whose name I didn’t catch throughout the movie’s entire duration) is coming to spend some quality time with his kin. He arrives with a rather miscreant bunch of people, including a would-be member of The Supremes and Velma Dinkley after she fell on hard times. Pseudo-Supreme has a bad feeling about the place and, after injecting heroin into her hand in an attempt to commune with the spirits and partaking in a bout of rather fierce yodelling, sets out to banish the Funny Man to the hell from whence he came. Along the way the group will reminisce over lost opportunities, duck hunts that went awry, and experience all that Club Sexy, the Brigadoon of strip clubs, has to offer.

...and then someone gets stabbed with a shoe...

…but then someone got stabbed with a shoe…

The Visuals

It was the 90s, so you have to be prepared to let some things slide. I imagine that, in its day, this movie looked spectacular. Well, perhaps ‘spectacular’ is too strong a word, but it would certainly have been more than passable. Everything you see is a little bit shiny and a little bit too plastic to completely buy in to what you’re watching, but that does provide the movie with a slightly camp feel that’s a delight all in its own. On the upside, because it’s from the 90s, you aren’t inundated with unnecessary CG, and when something blows up it really blows up, so it does have that in its favour.

What does become more than a little annoying is the Funny Man constantly talking to the camera. I’m all for a little off-the-fourth-wall action and a movie having a bit of fun at its own expense, but it happens so much in this film that it becomes quite jarring and makes the already-implausible action seem that little bit more disjointed.

That aside, and allowing for the rather campy aesthetic, points have to be given for the sheer outlandish ways that the Funny Man does away with his victims. From a mad soccer goalie to the use of a car battery far outside what its warranty will cover to a murder most foul at the end of a stripper heel, Funny Man certainly does have its fun moments.

...and it all just got a bit weird from there.

…and it all just got a bit weird from there.

The Feelings

Whelming. Neither under- nor over-, just whelming. It may not be an accepted English word, but I do believe it to be an entirely valid emotion. This movie had so many things going for it, and about 60% of the time it manages to pull it off. It’s the other 40% of the time that it becomes problematic. It doesn’t do anything terribly wrong, it just doesn’t always get it entirely right either.

The other problem is the story line. Now, as one who revels in atrociously made horror and sci-fi films I’d be the first to admit that you don’t need a strong story to make a decently (and unintentionally) funny film, but there has to at least be a semblance of a plot that the movie can hold on to. If Funny Man had one, then I must have missed it. It just felt that we moved from one ridiculous murder to the next without any real purpose. Not that the murders weren’t entertaining in and of themselves, but I never really got the sense of what it was all in aid of, which makes the end product mildly amusing but ultimately pointless.

To finish off, I’ll put it this way: I wouldn’t rush out to buy Funny Man just on its own, but if you were planning a light marathon of quirky horror films then this would be a good one to insert in the middle of the festivities to allow yourself a little breather.

My Final Rating: 5 / 10
Buy the Movie at Amazon.com:
Funny Man

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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Movie Review

 

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Game Review: Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3

Wario Land_Cover

Original Release: May 13, 1994
Original Platform: Game Boy
Virtual Console Release: February 16, 2012
Price: £3.60

I must confess going into this review that this game holds a very special place in my heart. Back when I was but a wee lad who had successfully whined enough at his mother to buy him the original Game Boy (what a glorious brick of a machine it was), this was the first game I got for it.

Whilst I imagine virtually everyone who has ever played a video game has, at some point, played something starring Mario in his constant attempts to prevent Princess Peach from being kidnapped, playing as Wario is a decidedly different kettle of fish. As a kid I remember actually feeling quite naughty playing this game, as virtuous attempts to save the damsel in distress are chucked out the window in favour of pure, unadulterated greed. It appeals to me even more now as an adult as I would gladly run around an island beating up anthropomorphic ducks if it meant earning a fortune and buying my own castle. Couple that with the fact that this game, in my opinion, started one of the best platforming franchises in gaming and you have a winner on your hands!

Wario Land_LoadThe Plot

Poor Wario. After a valiant struggle against Mario at the end of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (itself a very good game, and the reason for the ‘Super Mario Land’ title tacked on at the end of this game) Wario was ejected from the castle he stole from his nemesis and now has nowhere to live.

Like any good bad guy, however, you just can’t keep his rotund figure down for long, and Wario has an ingenious plan to get back at Mario: BUY AN EVEN BIGGER CASTLE! But he’s not going to earn the funds to do that by getting a regular 9 to 5 and resorting to efficient financial planning, oh no. Instead, Wario decides to steal an enormous statue of Princess Peach from Captain Syrup and the Brown Sugar Pirates, currently residing on Kitchen Island. Along the way he will also beat up anything he comes into contact with and steal any treasure that happens to be left lying around the island (now that, my friends, is an example of poor financial planning). Not being the most friendly chap out there he doesn’t have any friends to call on for help, but he does make the most out of some smashing hats, and that’ll get him quite far in his adventure.

Wario Land_Little Wario

The Gameplay

Wario Land has its roots in the Game Boy Mario games, as well as the larger body of Mario games on the systems of the time, and takes its cues from them, so none of the initial controls should be very difficult to master. Kitchen Island acts as the overworld which is then divided into seven worlds with multiple stages each. Each world comes with its obligatory boss who needs to be defeated before you can move on to the next world. Before that you will need to collect at least 10 coins in most of the stages in order to progress to the next one (you gotta spend money to make money, after all). It is vitally important to collect as much loot as you can in each stage, however, as the end of each stage presents you with mini games that you can play to increase your total coin stash. The more cash you have amassed at the end of the game will ultimately decide what kind of new lodging Wario gets to buy himself – after several play throughs I’ve never managed to get him anything bigger than a habitable tree trunk, but here’s hoping you can do better by him that I could.

So far as controlling Wario goes it’s all fairly simple. He walks, creeps, crawls and jumps like Mario does. The primary difference is that, unlike Mario, Wario jumping on a foe won’t kill them, but rather stun them. Most enemies can be stunned and then picked up and thrown and other enemies, making for a decidedly more brutish romp through the Mushroom Kingdom than Mario could ever hope to give you. The only flaw in Wario’s design is that he doesn’t so much jump as he floats. No man as corpulent as he is should be allowed to defy the laws of gravity in such a wanton manner. It’s by no means game breaking, and once you have gotten used to it it’s easy enough to judge where he’s going to land, but in a game that is otherwise masterfully crafted it does stand out like a bit of a sore thumb.

While Mario has his array of mushrooms, flowers, and feathers to aid him in his transformations, Wario has his aforementioned collection of stylish hats. These different hats, donned by finding different pots hidden throughout the game’s stages, allow for 3 different transformations: Bull Wario (who can shoulder charge and take out objects and enemies with greater ease), Dragon Wario (who can spit fire out of the hat’s nostrils) and Jet Wario (who can fly for short distances – although it should be noted that the author of this review in no way endorses flight that would put your neck under that much strain). Being hit by an enemy will transform him into Mini Wario, who isn’t nearly as useless as Mini Mario, and can trot into otherwise hard to reach places.

Wario Land_Jet Hat

The Feelings

How this game makes you feel ultimately depends on how dude-broish you are in your day-to-day gaming jaunts. If, like myself, there isn’t a strand of it in you you’ll probably revel in getting to be the would-be villain out for nothing but self-gain and fabulous-hat-wearing. If you like to smash beer cans against your head and chest bump because you managed to get through a stage, then you’re going to find this a bit trickier, but only because it’s difficult to hold a handheld gaming device AND smash a can against your head at the same time. Go for chest bumping, it’ll be easier.

Whatever your preference, this is a finely crafted game that goes above and beyond what you would expect from both a platformer and a Game Boy game. If you have some spare change floating around in your pocket I strongly suggest downloading this little guy and giving him a go. You haven’t lived until you’ve proudly walked through an enemy-infested beach billowing fire from your head.

My Final Rating: 8 / 10

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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Game Review

 

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