Over the last two decades or so Asian horror films have come to the fore of the horror genre, offering intelligent plotting, smart characterisation and incredibly atmospheric and disturbing moments. The Machine Girl has absolutely none of the above in it. Anyone looking to be genuinely scared is going to leave disappointed, and the script is pretty weak as well, indeed it’s quite embarrassing in places.
That all said, The Machine Girl’s an incredibly fun film. It knows what it wants to do, and does it well – and that is to cover the screen in as much gore as possible within it’s 93 minute running time. A volcano’s worth of blood must have been used, as every limb that’s cut off, every body that’s sliced in two, and every head that explodes pisses out blood in a way that’s never been seen before on this level. And I’ve watched a lot of OTT horror films in my time for some unknown but probably disturbing reason.
The plot’s wafer thin – Ami’s brother is bullied, and then killed by a ninja Yazuka gang, and so she seeks revenge on those responsible, but it doesn’t really matter what’s going on. All of this is just an excuse for the director to come up with a great selection of wonderful, if bizarre, fight scenes. Half way through Ami’s captured and has her arm chopped off, but soon rescued and handily given a machine gun arm as a replacement, and then the final half hour is one blood splattered scene after the next. There’s a lot of absurdity to be found here as well, so if you want to see scenes which involve people being ripped apart by a woman wearing a bra with large conical drills attached, an appearance from the “Super Mourner Gang”, a man being forced to eat sushi topped off with severed fingers, and a flying guillotine which decapitates folks with ease, you’ve come to the right place. You might also want to seek psychiatric help, but hey, who doesn’t in this day and age?
Director Noboru Iguchi went on to direct the slightly tacky Mutant Girls Squad, and had been known for the odd pornographic film before this, but thankfully bar one misjudged scene it’s not exploitative of it’s female cast, with the emphasis on death and destruction rather than anything else. He also created a short film spin off entitled Shyness Machine Girl, which sees Ami’s best friend back from the dead (as God kindly gives her a second chance) along with many of the villains from the first film. The concept’s cute in that whenever she gets bashful she turns murderous, but it’s unfortunately not very good, containing a training montage with way too many pointlessly lurid crotch shots, and scenes where a machine gun emerges from the heroine’s backside, so it’s probably worth pretending it never existed.
Make no mistake, The Machine Girl is a low budget film with a patchy script and occasionally dodgy cgi, and if you don’t like ridiculously gory films than you’ll probably hate it more than anything you’ve seen – yes, even Love, Actually – but for fans of the genre it’s a must see.