Mutant Girls SquadOverview -
Rin (Yumi Sugimoto, Engine Squadron Go-onger) has always felt like an outcast among her classmates and peers, and as she's about to turn sixteen, she finds out why - while her mother (Maiko Ito, Shall We Dance?) is human, her dad (Kanji Tsuda, Audition) is a Hiruko, a race of mutant creatures whose bodies transform themselves in strange ways and can sprout weapons at will. Defense Minister Koshimizu (Naoto Takenaka, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence) has launched a crusade to eliminate the Hirukos in the name of public safety, but Rin's father tells her of an underground Hiruko alliance who are fighting for their right to survive, and after the death of her parents, Rin makes her way to a training camp for young Hirukos. Rin, who now has long blades where her fingers used to be, teams up with fellow teenage warriors Rei (Yûko Takayama, Rescue Wings), Yoshie (Suzuka Morita, Samurai Squadron Shinkenger), Sachie (Cay Izumi, Tokyo Gore Police), and Chiako (Naoi Nagano, RoboGeisha), all of whom have unique bodily weapons of their own, as they set out to take down Koshimizu.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Despite opening with a blood-drenched battle where we see some dude's head sliced cleanly down the center, the point where you'll decide if 'Mutant Girls Squad' is the movie for you doesn't actually happen until a little later. In flashback, one of the girls, bullied and humiliated by others in school, celebrates her 16th birthday with her loving parents. Dad stands before his daughter and says he has one more surprise for her. But instead of a wrapped present with a great big bow on top, he unbuttons his shirt and unzips his pants to reveal the most disgusting pair of nipples imaginable. When we look down at his pants, we see the same throbbing protrusion that looks like the worst case of hemorrhoids ever, but which he quickly explains is not his penis.
The shock from seeing such a repulsive perversion is meant to induce laughter, so if you're not busting a gut, then perhaps you should look elsewhere because things only get worse from there. Immediately after dad's indecent exposure, mom's head explodes and the girl, Rin (Yumi Sugimoto), is forced to fight a small band of samurai-clad men with dildo-shaped masks on their noses, which are hilariously used as guns. With her Krueger-like hand, Rin takes out her rage on unsuspecting shoppers nearby, slaughtering and decapitating everyone in fountains of blood. One glorious battle pits the grief-stricken Rin against a pair of married pastry chefs, whose wife is used like nunchaku but uproariously carved into the shape of French bread.
If, on the other hand, you take delight in such freakish oddities of the imagination, then you're more likely to continue watching as Rin joins a team of other mutants, called Hiruko. In an abandoned warehouse and while wearing an iron mask on her head, Rin is introduced to some of the strangest characters around, like one girl with a chainsaw in her arse and another whose face simply turns red. Our young heroine quickly makes friends with Yoshie (Suzuka Morita), the tentacle-armed nurse, but can't seem to get along with Rei (Yuko Takayama), whose superpowers amount to sprouting mussels on her arms and face. The ragtag group is led by the soft-spoken transvestite samurai Kisaragi (Tak Sakaguchi), obsessed with replacing the human race with the Hiruko clan.
If you're still reading, then clearly you must have some small interest in watching 'Mutant Girls Squad' . . . or it could perhaps be a sign you're in need of some clinical help. As for me, I just had my yearly checkup, and I'm certifiably beyond repair, perfectly adept for enjoying Japan's darkly disturbing alternative to the 'X-Men' film franchise. There are no dudes in colorful spandex or speedos that can control metallic objects or some grumpy ex-soldier with razor-sharp claws named after a wild animal. These are real freaks in the truest form. Some of the girls are actually sort of lame — don't expect to see action figures of the girl with swords protruding from her breasts anytime soon — but most in the gang are utterly bizarre creatures of the grossest nature. Again, girl with chainsaw arse.
If you're familiar with the amoral, over-the-top style of graphic, splatter horror coming out of Japan as of late — think 'Meatball Machine,' 'The Machine Girl' or 'Tokyo Gore Police' — then you know what to reasonably expect from 'Mutant Girls Squad.' Two of the three directors, Yoshihiro Nishimura and Tak Sakaguchi, are already well-known for this still-growing subgenre. The third director, Noboru Iguchi, comes from the world of adult video but has more recently placed his focused on making more movies like this one. They each contributed their own approach to the production and made one truly weird horror feature of pure visually-orgasmic ultra-violence. The movie revels in its gory nonsense with tongue-in-cheek humor which pokes fun at itself as well as the genre, making for a disturbing good time if you can stomach shock with laughter.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Well Go USA Entertainment brings 'Mutant Girls Squad' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack inside a blue eco-lite keepcase. The first is a Region Free, BD25 disc while the second is a DVD-9 copy of the movie. At startup, viewers are forced to watch a series of trailers for movies in the distributor's catalog. Afterwards, it switches to a normal main menu window with full-motion clips and the J-pop musical score playing in the background.
'Mutants Girls Squad' unleashes the freaks on Blu-ray with a passable but generally average 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1). Part of what makes the video unsatisfying is the way it was shot, on HD digital cameras. The whole thing feels cheap with a sterile soap-opera effect and the occasional instances of mosquito noise. Aside from the low-cost CG effects, the transfer alternates considerably between noticeably sharp and detailed to soft and mediocre. Contrast and brightness levels fall flat for a majority of the runtime with lackluster blacks and murky shadows, which dull the image and make the presentation pretty boring to watch. The only genuine positives comes the fairly bright colors with reds and blues stealing the show.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is about as bland and lifeless as the video itself, often sounding as if recorded through the camera's onboard mic. The dialogue of characters is clear and intelligible, but also very plain with several instances of reverb being somewhat of a nuisance. The rest of the soundstage feels artificial with a few off-screen effects trying to expand the imaging to no genuine avail, and the mid-range is generally limited and falls flat though it never distorts. It's particularly noticeable when the many J-pop tunes fail to impress or fill the room with excitement. Bass, on the other hand, is pretty healthy and adequate with several punchy moments towards the end. There's no rear activity to speak of, which is a real shame given the amount of action seen on screen.
Supplements are light and mildly interesting.
- Making-of (1080i/60, 29 min) — Lots of BTS footage and interviews make up this straightforward short piece with some decent reveals of the special-effects works.
- Opening Day (1080i/60, 28 min) — Recorded during the movie's premiere, the Q&A session with cast & crew is amusing and worth a watch.
- Interviews (1080i/60) — A collection of six interviews that can be watched separately with the directors and the three main cast members.
- Short Film (HD, 17 min) — Titled "Yoshie Zero," the movie gives a bit of history and background on the Yoshie and Kisaragi characters.
Directors Yoshihiro Nishimura, Noboru Iguchi and Tak Sakaguchi deliver a disgustingly weird spectacle of gore and splatter in 'Mutants Girls Squad.' Working as some kind of answer to the 'X-Men' franchise, the low-budget horror flick comes with a tongue-in-cheek humor about the growing subgenre. The Blu-ray arrives with a somewhat disappointing but still passable audio and video presentation. Bonus material is also a bit average but interesting nonetheless, making the package worth the price for fans of this new style of horror.
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