Monday, 28 October 2013

Zombie Hunter Rika (Rika: Zombie Killer) - review

2008 (Japan)

Low budget, crass, nonsensical Japanese exploitative zombie comedies are a bit of an acquired taste and I'll happily admit, having now watched all three of the nihombie high-school girl vs zombie bad taste flicks that it's one I've yet to truly acquire. I'll concede there are more than likely cultural reasons to why I haven't found the incoherent excessively stupid narratives engaging, laughed along with the juvenile humour or particularly felt comfortable with the awkwardly forced and dangerously close to age inappropriate nudity, but I'm starting to think maybe it might actually be them, not me, who's at fault, and the truth is simply that they're just pretty crap. I'm being a bit disingenuous; I didn't actually mind Naoyuki Tomomatsu's Zombie Self-Defence Force, pitched as it was at being as totally bat-shit crazy as it possibly could get away with. It understood perfectly what to do with no money and a ridiculous premise and story, knowing to never bow to common-sense or restraint at the expense of getting another cheap laugh from an endless supply of the audaciously stupid. It was still culpable of all the complaints I mentioned earlier and is undeniably crap but it knew it and knew played along with it.

On paper director Ken'ichi Fujiwara's Zombie Hunter Rika has it pitched right. School girl Rika (Lisa Kudô) is playing hooky to visit her master surgeon and expert samurai grandpa, there's an outbreak of green skinned flesh eating foot shufflers and the severed arm of a legendary American zombie-hunter is conveniently found just when our fair skinned heroine inadvertently loses her own. Add three moronic stooges that have somehow survived the onslaught, a conspiracy theory that blames the whole thing of a covert government program to euthanize the elderly, a cognisant zombie who arrives on the scene offering help and a rat-like zombie boss who makes not one blind bit of sense for existing and we have all the stupid, implausible and contrived we've come to expect.

So why doesn't it work this time? Two reasons. One, is that there is actually an attempt to present all of the above in something other than a non-serious way. Two and more importantly, what should have been audaciously over the top and in your face actually comes across flat and insipid like all involved just couldn't shake off just what amateur b-movie drivel it all was. The acting is limp and lifeless, the dialogue lazy and the story gives up any attempt at retaining a modicum of coherence or natural pacing all too readily. Fleeing the zombie horde with help from Tomoya, a man purporting to be her grandfather's wife's brother, the trio arrive to find a sad old man riddled with dementia, a gaggle of young maids desperate to compare breast size and an awful lot of conversation completely devoid any mention of the fact the whole town is now fucking zombiefied. I can handle a bit of laziness but it's like no one cared at all by what was being said.

The zombies, I'll hold my hands up, aren't actually too bad; though I'm really using the term loosely. They're clearly the result of minimal time and money but, at least they have a uniform look to their shuffling around groaning and ponderous attacks on anyone unaffected. There's the usual Japanese quirky embellishments, with one zombie holding his crotch as if aroused, one driving a car and the excessive use of a questioning 'meha?' groan, but I'll leave these as observations as I don't think it's really worth any attempt at a semi-intelligent critique. Also where would be if there wasn't some token completely out of place and mind-bafflingly insane magic and mayhem, and a good old fashioned big boss fight with the excuse to throw in some average looking CG. A speaking, mask wearing cognisant revenent with a hokey eye and some strange CG death beam from his belly has the former covered; Grorian a dual sword wielding samurai who on defeat explodes into dust and somehow holds to the key to fixing all the wrongs that have been wrought and curing all infected or killed, covers the latter. There's no rhyme or reason to any of it and while not necessarily a bad thing; I mean look at Chanbara Beauty and Zombie-Defence Force which were equally audaciously stupid, here the action, effects and fighting is so lacklustre, bland and lacking in style, finesse and belief, it can’t rise to appear as anything other than as poor and amateur as it is.

Zombie Hunter Rika is so pedestrian and mediocre it took me three sittings to get through it as I kept thinking of things I'd rather be doing like taking out the bins or tidying the cutlery drawer. There were a fair few interesting and uncomfortable moments of gore, lots of blood and there's plenty of flesh-eating, but I'm scrambling for many positive things to say. An amateur script that felt like it was being made up as it went along, dry lacklustre acting performances from people who genuinely looked like they didn't want to be there, and shot capture and direction that looked cheap and harried as if Ed Wood with his one take what-ever happens approach was in charge; it's bad film. A chore I'd not recommend others endure, 2/10.



  1. Attack Girls Swim Team is easily the worst of the three, if only for how it made me feel REALLY sleazy for having watched it, haha!

    I found Defense Force to be heads and shoulders above the other two, which, as you stated, ain't saying much.

    But seriously, how funny is the fake rubber arm they put on Rika? Hilarious.

    1. Swim Team has something seriously wrong with it; even when looked at in terms of the high school girl exploitative zombie horror genre it occupies, which says a lot.

      I'm just relieved I'm all Japanese'd out atm, and I feel I deserve a break; well, at least until I pick up Zombie Toilet and Big Tits Zombie... oh my...