Saturday, June 27, 2009

a slightly long-winded review of Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl

While I’d hate to break the massive combo of friend drawings I’ve been posting this month, I’ve had an incredibly busy and fun week, which was launched by a surprise interview at an incredibly awesome satirical news publication that I sent my resume to. Whether or not I get the job is a shot in the dark, but at least I got to see the inner workings of the website for one of my all time favorite sources of humor. Plus the place was a few blocks away from Little Italy so I got to chow down on some delicious Italian food and pastries as well as the mass of obscure Japanese video game t-shirts at the Uniqlo store in SoHo.

Apart from that, I went back into New York City the following day to watch Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl at the IFC Center’s New York Asian Film Festival. This is the latest film from Yoshihiro Nishimura who directed Tokyo Gore Police which I saw at the very same film festival the previous year. While the film was made on a significantly smaller budget than Tokyo Gore Police (the director said it was $350,000 but the translator seemed to be having difficulty, so I’m lead to believe it was more along the lines of $3.5 million, or about a third that of Gore Police), this one definitely had more of a plot than straight out social satire.

What set the screening of Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl apart from Tokyo Gore Police was the fact that this was the worldwide premiere of the film and the two directors, as well as a few of the special effects and CG artists were present at the screening and were available for a Q and A before and after the screening. I know Subway Cinema will put a video of the interview up on YouTube and I’ll embed it as soon as it becomes available.

The screening was completely sold out several days before it was scheduled and the line at the IFC Center went all the way to their second floor 45 minutes before the movie began. The crowd consisted of fan boys and man-children of all shapes and sizes (me included). The most interesting thing I observed was a kid around 10 years old who took his mom to the screening, in line he was telling his mother about the toothed vagina in Tokyo Gore Police, referring to it as “alligator legs”, his mother was either really cool or she has no clue what she was getting in to.

Before the screening started, in the New York Asian Film Festival tradition they started with a DVD raffle. While last time they included a lot of obscure Japanese and Korean horror films, this time it was mostly just porno films and an incredibly out of place hospital drama called Vital. Granted, all the porno films had justifiably over the top titles including Grope Train 6, Sex Machine and Naked Rashomon (established humorously as “you’ve all seen Akira Kurosawa’s classic film, but have you seen the naked version?”). All these films were introduced by a overly enthusiastic fast-talking man in a pink Salmon suit, I really wish I could find him on YouTube as whatever I write here will never do him justice. (UPDATE! FOUND THE VIDEO)

Yoshihiro Nishimura gave a brief introduction to the film telling the audience that if they were fans of Tokyo Gore Police that they might be disappointed because this is actually a romantic comedy…set in a high school…with splatter; Following that he said that him and his co-director did not share a brother or “gay couple” relationship like the Cohens or the Wachowskis but instead fought like cats and dogs “or rather vampires and frankensteins” throughout the entire filming. The curator then asked him to explain the ganguro fashion trend in Japan, and then a few minutes and a too soon Michael Jackson joke later, the screening began.

As for the movie itself, it was definitely a lot more refined than his last film Tokyo Gore Police and offered a lot more intentional (or shall I say less satirical) humor making it more into some weird hybrid of an ‘80s John Hughes teen comedy and a low-budget splatter picture from Troma. The plot revolved around a love-triangle at valentine’s day after a boy ate a chocolate containing the severed finger from a foreign exchange girl that had a crush on him. After eating the finger, he turned into a half vampire and the girl who was a full vampire; wanted him to ingest more of her blood to become a full vampire…or she’d kill him. Meanwhile his current girlfriend investigates the relationship and is ultimately killed and then turns into a hyper Frankenstein monster that was engineered from her mad scientist of a father. The plot was non-sense and more a vehicle for the film’s ridiculous humor to come out.

Much in vein of Tokyo Gore Police’s fake advertisements ever present throughout the movie, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl featured several subplots that were only loosely connected to the actual plot. This included a sexy school nurse, janitor and vice principal who where all psychopathic killer scientists of sorts planning a super human experiment (or Frankenstein in this world) composed of body parts from minor characters in the film. Meanwhile, we’re treated to the Chinese director of The Grudge teach a Chinese class while cursing the English adaption of the movie, an Olympic sport afterschool style wrist cutting league and a quasi-racially insensitive Ganguro girl meet-up. It was all great fun leading to a legitimately entertaining final battle between the vampire and Frankenstein girls respectively; All of the this was accentuated by an energetic and catchy J-Pop soundtrack to turn all the offensiveness into boyish charm.

After the screening the directors and his crew of special effects artists leapt on stage to answer a few questions. I’m fairly certain this video will appear online but apparently this was the first time the co-director has seen the completed film and was “surprised to know that he made a movie that was actually, good”. I was able to land a question about breaking into the Japanese gore film scene, which he replied in saying just “find work” and that he was able to assemble a crew of gore hounds by meeting people working on various independent films and for special effects projects.

The last few tidbits they revealed at the Q and A session were that they were working on some short films set in the Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl universe to pad out the special features on the DVD and that there will be new shorts on the special double-dip release of Tokyo Gore Police. He also said that his next film will involve high school girls running over zombies with cars and it will be at the New York Asian Film Festival the following year. I’m already stoked.

There was an after party immediately following the screening but I didn’t actually go to it. It was getting late and I was unsure of the train schedule, plus me and my friends didn’t park a car at the train station and I didn’t want to bother my parents too much if it got any later. However, the movie experience was absolutely awesome and unforgettable and way worth the $13.50 price of admission.

…besides hack Hollywood directors like Michael Bay could learn a thing or two from these low-budget splatter films, they’re able to keep spectacle exciting without throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at the screen. Its also worth noting that both Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl will arrive on Netflix streaming (oh yes, there will be streaming...) in the coming weeks. I recommend you check them out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 3

ah, yes, the third part of the Facebook friends project, if its anything like movie trilogies this edition will undoubtedly be a letdown. Unless its like the Star Wars prequel trilogy, then that means this one would be sort of decent in a weird way...

While its true I've drawn an April Yim, in the past she asked for another one in the comments section of my Facebook album and I kind of felt like drawing her in the style of this series anyway.

As someone who hung out a lot in her room working on 3D Animation major stuff with her roommate Vikki (forthcoming, and by that I mean probably in the forth update), I kind of awkwardly learned the rules of the room. Much like Fight Club, there were definitely some rules for the room but most people can't remember far past the first two. The first being take off your shoes on the way in. While I'm unsure of the second rule, I'm pretty sure it was the same as the first; either that or no Asian Gore movies.

If I haven't mentioned it before, both April and Vikki were incredibly awesome company for the second half of Sophomore year and were always down for Philly Cheese Steaks or trips to China Town, IHOP and various Zoo related things. Oh and Castle Crashers, you can't forget about that one.

Ah yes, Eugene Armencha, while he doesn't actually live on campus at Pratt, he's been in practically most my hard classes Sophomore Year. With that being said just about every time Maya caused me to debate lighting my hair on fire (which happened quite frequently) he'd be online with a solution that worked just about every time. Apart from Maya his skills in AfterEffects are insane, he made a fake trailer for his Final in Digital Tech Workshop class (the final was an open assignment, and the class was mostly just Photoshop 101) which looks VERY close to a real movie which is phenomenal considering he did it on no budget at all. Watch it, seriously....

He likes Kubrick films and absurdist humor too, so we get along really well. Plus he's the only person I know of who I can discuss the merits of man boobs for two hours after getting an incredibly weird critique in Storyboarding class (for ahwhile Cloverfeld was morbidly obese and I gave him jiggly breasts, actually, maybe that was just asking for a weird critique in retrospect). I'm also way looking forward to his Whale Nipples III movie that he's working on this summer, I'm pretty sure it will melt my face off.

David Garcia is pretty much the only person from High School that I still routinely hang out with between breaks back home in college. I've known hims since middle school and he's probably responsible for most of the weird links I have on Twitter, StumbleUpon and on my YouTube favorites. I chat with him on AIM a lot and he's one of the few non-Adam Warner related people that wouldn't mind watching horrible movies with me and he's going to go in to NYC with me to watch the oh so awesome looking Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and the Tokyo Gore Night at the IFC center. Oh, and I also watched Shakespeare on the Sound with him a few times, I guess that's going on right now, I should probably go.

Kevin Teeter was another one of those people on Facebook that I've chatted with long before I've actually come into Pratt. He was Robin for Halloween once, I believe and that takes serious guts...but he pulled it off quite nicely.

Ah yes, Adam Warner and Anthony Tello, I know these guys quite well. Last year, pretty much every time I wasn't hanging out with April and Vikki, I'd be watching a bad horror movie or playing Lego Star Wars, Peggle or Lumines with Adam Warner, who'd often have a Ben and Jerry's pint on hand. He's a writing major at Pratt and he has a very epic DVD collection which contains MANY classics from the IMDb top 250 alongside quite a few from the bottom 100, he has fantastic tastes and despite his recent vegetarianism, I went to a few of the more fastfood-y places on Myrtle with him (see Crown Fried for more information).

As a result of the constant hanging out, he also wound up being the subject in a lot of my Video Editing projects. If you've been following this blog you'd notice he was the star of that zombie movie I did a month or so back. Anthony Tello was an architecture major at Pratt for my first year there but ultimately left to pursue a career in music. After Freshman year I've met up with him several times when he was visiting Pratt and from time to time I'd discuss whatever the latest Pixar movie is with him on AIM. I'm pretty sure I'll see more of him next year as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 2

The series continues this week, here is the latest batch of drawings, comments, etc.

Connie is a Graphic Design major at Pratt, I met her because she was one of the few other people in my year that had Miyazaki's rather awesome "My Neighbor Totoro" listed under their favorite movies. She'll be rooming with my friends April and Vikki next year both of whom I hung out with every day a month or so into last semester, so she can look forward to my food fiascos this coming fall ^_^

This is Dan, he was my roommate when I did a summer program for animation and video editing at NYU back in High School. He tried to get me to watch the Lord of the Rings films there, I still haven't gotten around to doing that today...oops. He is currently studying computer animation over at RIT and has seen WALL-E in theaters thrice I believe.

Sam was another person I met long before I came to Pratt through AIM and Facebook. He's a Crit. Vis. major and a huge fan of Sierra Grille, he's also a lot taller in person...

Loris is one of my classmates in 3D animation at Pratt virtually in all my classes last year and probably the next one. He comes from France but doesn't have an accent, he's way into architectural modeling and 3D special effects, as well as graffiti. He has an active account on Xbox Live too, that's pretty awesome.

and lastly here's Eggie. I knew him mostly senior year of High School where he was in my art and sociology classes. At the time he was going into the Marines and was a life guard at the YMCA. Glad he made it out fine, especially considering the climate in Iraq a couple of years ago.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 1

Outside of Pratt, without any deadlines and the neon glow of an underplayed Xbox 360 its difficult for me to stay motivated without the gun of getting a bad grade held to my head. While I'd like to start a few Maya character design tutorials sometime, I also want to get more comfortable drawing in the more hand drawn, less digital looking style. I'll do one or two a day for the next couple of weeks, I'll post them here every couple of days. Here's the first batch...

That's Adam, he was my roommate first year of Pratt and I'll room with him again this coming school year. He's a way cool guy and pretty much the only person that could sarcastically sit through both Epic Movie and Date Movie back-to-back on HBO with me. He also digs anime and every show that every 90's kid without cable grew up with (which is cool, because I ALSO never had Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network until I was about 12).

This is Tom...or Kane...I'm actually not sure what to call him anymore, but he was really awesome and I hung out with him quite a lot first year of Pratt. He was the kind of guy who wouldn't mind going to Times Square and eating at Applebees, very spontaneous but in the best way possible. He also had a cool custom built computer with an LED display that read "BAMF" and was quite awesome at Guitar Hero III. He indirectly got me to start this project when he asked me to draw him in the style of my online avatar, sure thing ;)

This is Amanda and Katie Oh riding on an iPhone in space, getting chased by acclaimed independent movie director David Lynch. I've known both Katie and Amanda through Facebook about a half a year before I came to Pratt both are pretty swell people. Amanda is a ginormous fan of David Lynch, and David Lynch is not a huge fan of iPhones apparently

I have a ton of requests on Facebook, Let's see how long I can keep this going ^_^