e-mail:Smokey X. Digger
Junk: Dead Soul Hunting
1999, Dir. Atsushi Muroga
Is it wrong to be attracted to a zombie? Have you ever had to ask yourself that?
You see, the Japanese are onto something great here with Junk. A group of your standard decayed, shuffling zombies led by a beautiful naked woman zombie who kicks serious ass, even after being cut in half. Friends, it doesn't get any better than this.
Well actually, it does. Junk is pretty weak in the scripting department and the plot is full of holes. But the zombie action is pretty rockin' and pretty well done. Heavily influenced by Lucio Fulci (of Zombie fame); brains are blown out, guts are munched, characters are boring and stupid, but did I mention the brains? I also picked up some Tarantino influence and even some Run Lola, Run type stuff which did spice up the proceedings a bit.
Junk is modeled after the Tarantino / Robert Rodriguez flick From Dusk Till Dawn in that we start out with some gangster / criminal type stuff and then get into serious undead mayhem. Our four amateur thieves are Jun, the leader; Kabu, his right hand man; Saki, the female in charge of driving the getaway toaster van (which I wouldn't guess would be the optimum vehicle in such a situation); and Akira, because Japanese film law dictates there must be at least one Akira in every movie. To a pounding techno beat they hold up a jewelery store in order to sell their booty to the improbably named Ramon, the local mob boss. Here's where the Dusk influence really shines. We find our mobsters in a dark bar with some roadhouse music that becomes a theme later in the film. They are dressed as Seth and Richie from Dusk; black jackets with white shirts. Ramon is clearly modeled after Clooney's Seth character, albeit crossed with The Penguin with a mane of silver hair. Even Clooney's tattoo can be seen poking out of Ramon's sleeve.
While all this is going on, some American military types (played with appropriate stupidity and arrogance for this type of film) are questioning one Dr. Nakata about the goings on at a secret laboratory housed in a large deserted factory. The Doc and his partner had been working on a chemical called DNX that guess what! Brings the dead to life, exactly. In the credits sequence we saw the partner bringing back the afore mentioned beautiful naked woman, who promptly takes a chunk out of his neck. Now it seems they have a bit of an outbreak on their hands which must be taken care of with the utmost secrecy. So they decide to blow the place up. No one's gonna ask any questions about that, right?
So the thieves contact Ramon to find out where they should meet. If you don't know the answer as soon as the question comes up you need more practice. The thieves get there first and we get a little character development (very little). Jun hears a noise and wanders off, falling victim to a perfectly executed cliche, that being the one of "strange noise turning out to be just a harmless kitty, sigh of relief, immediately grabbed by monster / killer, through a wall if at all possible". His accomplices find him being nibbled upon, they bug out and run away, only to find Ramon and his cronies. The bad guys of course scoff at the notion of zombies until Jun shows up and bites one of them. Japanese skin is crunchy! From here on in its familar territory for zombie enthusiasts.
IN CLOSING: For enthusiasts, Junk is definitely a fun ride. Zombie effects and mayhem are pretty nauseating, making the plot holes fairly easy to ignore. The action kicks in early and stays at a pretty intense pitch, mixing gunplay with gutplay to keep it interesting. There are direct references to Fulci which are kinda fun to pick out (if like me you have nothing better to do with your afternoons) and the references to From Dusk Till Dawn are entertaining, but are ultimately the only thing that drags this movie down. While Dusk and Junk are both cut from the same cloth, Dusk is infinitely better written. Junk could have been a completely amazing movie if the writing was tightened up a bit and the characters had a bit more depth to them. I mean Christ, even in Japan there's gotta be thousands of struggling screenwriters who could contribute to a script such as this. Maybe if all these dipshit film school writers would stop trying to write something about "the human condition" and other such silliness that guess what, Godard and Bergman already did all that shit six million times better than you ever will, and start writing about important things like guts and zombies, we could have another zombie classic on our hands. Now I'm pissed off, I'm gonna go watch Junk again.
See someone do a better job than me: Teleport City
Wanna buy Junk? Check out Henshin Video. Tell them Iniquity Films by way of Teleport City sent you!