Psycho Gothic Lolita Review: Showcasing Film’s Greatest Umbrella

What makes us as film consumers care about a work? Does it have to do with the various buzz-words marketers employ? Does the title in question have a favored director or main lead in it to draw the consumers’ eye? Does the name alone allow this title to stand apart from its less cool sounding competition? Tonight that last question will be answered, after I review a movie that could be picked up by name alone, 2010’s own Psycho Gothic Lolita.

Psycho Gothic Lolita was directed by Go Ohara, who has only directed a film called Geisha vs Ninja. He seems to work more as an action coordinator, having worked on such titles as Oneechanbara: The Movie and Devil May Cry 3. Cult special effects master and director Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police and Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl) took part in this film as well, providing talent and adding a special touch to Psycho Gothic Lolita.

The year is 20XX in what oddly still looks like modern-day Tokyo. A sign for The Tokyo Gothic shines brightly with its succubus looking logo. The film cuts to a bouncer eating spaghetti and smoking at the same time (for what I feel to have been an almost fetish like long four minutes). We see the inhabitants partaking in various acts of inflicting pain. A woman by the name of The Gambler is shown working a game with opposing gangs. But her time is up when a figure in a black dress shows up to confront her. A fight breaks out and The Gambler is killed.

Psycho Gothic Lolita is about a woman named Yuki (played by famous Gravure Idol Rina Akiyama) and her struggle for revenge against the five people who murdered her mother. Killing The Gambler was only the start of her plan. With the help of her wheelchair-bound father (in both the maternal and religious use of the word), she spends the rest of the film taking her revenge one person at a time.

I think that the biggest draw for this film is the inclusion of Yoshihiro Nishimura’s special effects team. When someone loses an arm, that distinct recognizable amount of
pumped blood shoots out in comedic fashion. He uses practical effects, giving his work the same attraction that films like Dead Alive and The Thing had back in their day. It is just a pleasure to just see how creative he can be.

Psycho Gothic Lolita stands out from other gore-centric films by trying to be more action driven; a credit to Go Ohara’s start as a stunt double and general action director. Psycho Gothic Lolita’s fight sequences get pretty intricate. I found myself constantly rewinding to try to figure out the motion. One of the problems is that the camera was placed at times to not show contact. In addition, the entire time I was wondering if perhaps Rina Akiyama was doing this all on her own (although, the costume she wore and the way she had her hair might have made it easier for a stunt double to take over).

Pros: When shot right, the choreography looks really nice. Yuki’s outfit is perhaps the center piece of the entire film. Its distinct design was one of the aspects that originally drew me into watching. Rina Akiyama is the perfect fit for this role. Yuki’s umbrella/spear/gun might just be one of the coolest fictional weapons that I would consider fit for practical use.

Cons: Yuki’s flash backs to her mother’s murder are drawn out to the point of being obnoxious. Those scenes will forever give me terrible flashes of annoyance whenever I see pure white sets and lighting.  What was most disappointing about this film was Yoshiro Nishimura’s involvement; his team seemed to be at their most base level (blood geysers and skeleton effects). They brought nothing new to the table and some of the scenes needed to be edited for time. I could swear that Koh Nakagawa (who composes a lot of these types Nishimura films) made part of the soundtrack; I bring this up because I am starting to feel that his work is over used in these films.  

I looked forward to Media Blasters’ release of Psycho Gothic Lolita for what seemed like forever. I waited patiently even after it was delayed; yet when I finally watched it I felt let down. It just was not all there, it had things that I loved but was dragged down horribly by others. Unless you are a hardcore Yoshihiro Nishimura fan (or just a gore fan in general), I cannot suggest this film without first suggesting you watch one of his better examples in the genre. Psycho Gothic Lolita has style, but cannot back it up with enough competence.

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