Review: Meatball Machine (2005)
I'm not going to say this is a 'good' movie, but I am going to say I loved it as it brought back so many memories of my exploration of Japanese tokusatsu films during the 90's. I immediately started flashing back to stuff like Zieram I & II, Mechanical Violator Hakaider (I am def gonna rewatch this for a review soon), Moon Over Tao, and plenty of others. This film is also definitely influenced by Tetsuo: The Iron Man, so this was just a weird and violent romp through memory lane.
MM is a splatterpunk B-movie that's equal parts Kamen Rider in its hokey and fun action fights and some 1990's Peter Jackson (think Brain Dead, Bad Taste) in it's splatterifick dark humor body horror. Amidst the schlock and copious amounts of gore and questionable tentacle placement there's what I would call an 'almost romance' that's also a nihilistic downward spiral to remind you that humanity just kinda sucks. And along the way you get some adorably disgusting muppets, so all-in-all a pretty great package.
The story follows Yōji, a quiet, awkward, and lonely factory worker who is falling for his coworker Sachiko. While we're drifting through that story there are numerous violent murders as a strange parasitic life form jumps from victim to victim with plenty of tentacles flailing.
So many tentacles.
We're also treated to some great (and terrible) fight scenes between monsters as the parasites turn humans into the equivalent of flesh Gundams. They're referred to as NecroBorgs, and as the parasyte clamps down to a person this mirthful little muppet guy grows inside them and pilots them around to fight other NecroBorgs for the sole purpose of sport (and to eat each other, for shits and giggles).
Eventually a dormant parasyte ends up in Yōji's possession, he finally gets a date with Sachiko, and of course she gets possessed and turned into a NecroBorg.
Yōji meets a father and daughter who have had dealings with the NecroBorgs and through a sequence of events Yōji becomes partially possessed as he was able to kill the parasyte mid way through his transformation. Yōji proceeds to hunt down Sachiko in the desperate hope of saving her, and pretty much the rest of the movie is one big showdown. Including one of my favorite parts where the Sachiko NecroBorg takes a slimy co-worker, wraps him up in metal, and then proceeds to use him as a weapon in the battle.
It just embraces its hokiness and runs with it, I love it so much you guys.
The plot isn't especially rich, but you're not really here for the plot. I'm not going to warn you away due to the violence because really, once I said splatterpunk and you saw the trailer at the start of the review you should have had an idea of this was your jam or not. I will mention that they do have one bad tentacle moment but I almost have to applaud them for their reserve as it was over and done with in few seconds. Trust me, when you're dealing with a bad Japanese B-movie, that's an incredible amount of restraint.
One of the aspects I really enjoyed throughout was the design element of the aliens, the NecroBorgs, and even just the scene transitions. Seriously, I just thought the giant metal doors that popped up from time to time as scene transitions were delightful.
If you're in the mood for a ridiculously over the top smorgasbord of violence and fake blood squirting all over the place, then you'll probably enjoy Meatball Machine. Just go in knowing what it is and appreciate it for the camp and charm of the production as the creators were obviously just going crazy with their weird ideas. And then get ready to meet back here next week as I review the sequel Meatball Machine: Kodoku because that film.....that film is definitely something else.