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Film Review: Zombie Self Defense Force (2006)

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A flying saucer crashes on our planet and the radiation turns dead people into hungry zombies. Which is quite a problem for the gangsters who have to get rid of a corpse that just won’t die again, or the hotel owner who wants to kill his former lover, since she blackmails him. “Zombie Self-Defense Force” is a gory, very gory comedy with a couple of good jokes, but in the end not professional enough especially in the camera and lights department to deserve the comparison with “Shaun of the Dead” in the tag-line. It never looks better than straight-to-video. I liked some characters, such as the killer baby with “Ghoulies” teeth (and the same anarchic attitude!), the hairdresser zombie who still has vague memories of her former job (similar to “Land of the Dead”), even the totally over-the-top “protect me, please” silly schoolgirl. “Zombie Self-Defense Force” demonstrates the Japanese zombie fighting style touch: when you have no more bullets, continue with the samurai sword! So, this is a cheap no-brainer, but if you don’t expect more than that, fun to watch.


Just when I thought I was gonna have to stick through another Asian wet girl film comes Zombie Self Defense Force. Strange enough the film begins with a sort of monologue about how Japan has always supported others rather than form there own self defense force. With Hiroshima, Nagasaki and others mentioned…. number counts in millions of Japanese deaths are rattled off in an almost anti US war protest speech. Perhaps a need for the filmmaker or maybe supposed to be a lead in of sorts …however all that really matters is that you are on a ride for some crazy Asian Zombie visuals coming.

I have mixed feelings on the film but the strongest aspect is hands down a rather unique and absurd show of visuals. Zombie killings yes…we have them all and more. You name it…blood spurting, biting, brains dropping, arms ripping, finger chomping and umbilical cord swinging. In films of this style we have learned that when it comes to crazy and whacked out, Asian clearly tops the cake in over the top visuals. This film is no exception with really strong props and over extended gore situations. The problem I had with the film was that there really wasn’t much of a plot in place beyond that.

They establish the stories of 3 sets of individuals. An army recon team, a photo shoot in progress for a local pop star and a cheating husband being informed from his lover about a unexpected pregnancy.

Now with that in mind, on one clear sky day comes a UFO that flies about while each of the groups discuss the validity in what they just witnessed. The UFO prop is done pretty poorly that ia not much more thrilling than say watching a Saturday morning variety show. Though lucky for us, the ufo is only a origin and not the finale.

The craft crashes and explodes releasing what we assume to be a air born virus that animates the dead. Beyond that what more do we really need to know? Dead folks and recent dead folks come back to life doing what zombies do digging into humans for breakfast on gross proportions. The film has a unique flavor for gore scenes though. A beheading produces spouts of white spraying puss, a shot to the head just doesn’t spatter but punches out a chunk which drops to the floor and then splatters the brain piece all in a rather slow sequence. It’s comedic in its absurdity but as far as lines go is not a great comedy.

The pregnant woman who we were introduced to of course dies off while her demon offspring proceeds to attack the recon team. Umbilical cord in hand, the little devil bops around the room in a capacity that would even make “Chucky” seem tame. Our prima-donna pop star named Miss Hitomi is left to deal with the undead mostly on her own. By far the prettiest face on the screen, she steals the show with a numbskull line as 2 zombies approach her…”Ill do ya both if you let me go”.

You’ll easily recognize homages to US zombies as the narrators proclaims that “Romero is a god”. The influence may be there but the style is something of its own accord. Simple face makeup is enhanced with pieces flesh that hang off and a lean towards old and moldy than aged and crunchy.

The star of the show is clearly the gore though and not much else. I’m sure lovers of this genre and Asian crazy style will applaud many of the rather clever effects work scenes. And if you were wondering…yes there are alot. The feeble story gets to grow a bit old which lacks the dynamics that is seen in other films of this nature. I’d probably list the roles and actor credits in this review but the IMDB listing lacks the proper role to actor match up. Oh Well, I think viewers will get by.

One of the other trends I’ve noticed is the need for a hero to appear. This sort of thing would kill any US version as being silly but not to Asian horror. Yuri, one of the recon team members is told that by biting into her molar it will create a “super warrior”. This last act of the movie reminds you again what to expect from Asian horror at times. In this case a bunch of loony martial arts fights sped up in the camera and maximized with plenty of cheese to prompt you ask simply “why”.

The shots might make it if it weren’t for the FX 101 overlays of lightning and explosions. And we were doing so fine up to now….
Oh well, if you happen to fast forward thru the ending, I really don’t blame you as you could ge the same results watching reruns of “Johnny Socko and the robot”.

I’ve come to start a trend on my own which is to keep track of directors who produce these kind of films. In this case it’s Naoyuki Tomomatsu who has his share of titles. The most recent which I’m looking forward to is his 2009 feature called “Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl” . Other previous films include the highly regard 2001 “Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies” and the 1997 “Eat the Schoolgirl “. All these titles will sooner or later enter my viewing circle in a quest for more Asian absurdity.

Zombie Self Defense Force (2006)

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