Today I watched Yudai Yamaguchi’s Meatball Machine (2005)
This film follows Yoji, a young factory worker with no social skill whatsoever. he bumbles through life until he is assaulted by a crossdresser and finds a strange bio-mechanoid pod in the trash, which he cannot identify and stashes in his closet. Later the other workers at his factory are having a party, Yoji does not attend of course, but he does see them on the street sexually abusing the girl Yoji has a crush on. He stands up for her and is beaten up for his troubles, but the aggressors do back eventually back off and leave them. When the two make their way back to Yoji’s house though, the pod opens up and attacks the girl, taking over her body and turning it into a cyborg monstrosity. From there the film devolves into a barrage of insanity and gore as these strange alien parasites take control and go about engaging in blood drenched combat.
While this film offers a treasure trove of madcap, gory humour, it begins with a totally gormless protagonist in Yoji, who is frankly pretty hard to watch. He is pretty much devoid of any personality outside of his hikikomori and that makes him rather insufferable as there is nothing to humanize how pathetic he is. Aside from this, what the film has going for it is the immense creativity of the special effects department. The monster designs are all incredible and the film goes all out to present it’s opera of arterial spray. That creativity helps elevate this from a simple gore film, it’s more like a live action cartoon, one of those old hyper violent animes but with a more self aware, tongue in cheek sense of humour. This knowing wink and nod really help save the film from it’s hopeless protagonist.
If you want gore but want it delivered in a mind bending and bizarre manner then this is a film for you. It presents it’s special effects and visual madness with a really smart self awareness, it doesn’t satirize itself, it just knows how ridiculous it is. Despite all of this, that protagonist really does drag the film down. It’s a character archetype that seems not uncommon in Japan and I really do not understand it. This is a film that gets into the whole power fantasy thing, but if the base character who is to be elevated is so low; it makes me wonder what the creators think of their fans. But even with that this is a pretty damn entertaining flick and totally worth a watch. 4/5