Ready for the annual splattergore film from Japan? Nishimura’s latest is Helldriver, a film in which the film’s title screen doesn’t appear until a 40 minutes into the proceedings. Nishimura currently is editing the international version of Hell Driver, as distinguished from the original version, which had its “unofficial world premiere” at Fantastic Fest in the U.S., and its “official world premiere” at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain. Like the original version, however, the “international version” may well have both an unofficial world premiere and an official world premiere, meaning that Hell Driver may well end up having four (4) so-called “world premieres”! Which version I say in Texas? I couldn’t tell ya, but whichever version I saw, I can tell you Yoshihiro Nishimura shows no shame with Helldriver.
The plot goes a little something like this: Kika, a high school girl with a chainsaw, recruited by the government enters a zombie infected zone, along with a small group of companions to take out the zombie queen. That’s about it, and about all you need. After a meteor blasts a gaping hole in Rikka’s chest, she tears the still-beating heart from her daughter’s chest and grafts it into her own body… eventually being taken over by a starfish-shaped alien in the meteor, and used to spread a mysterious ash that turns everyone who inhales it into mindless flesh-eating zombies. Following with the well known Japanese tradition of telling the story with a bunch of flashbacks and flash-forwards, it contains lots of irregular tempo and several flashes of very very intense action with astounding sound. And despite this it never feels as contrived as it clearly is. This is sterling stuff, a fast, tough, romp that hardly puts a foot wrong and the sort of film that leads inevitably to moans about the decline of the Japanese film industry.
The road is fraught with a thriving zombie culture and I know many people out there that eat this stuff up. It is most definitely an acquired taste, but if these types of films are your cup of tea, this is one of the better offerings. I mean, believe it or not, the gore isn’t the only thing going for it. Case in point, the directors effort into the screenplay’s mechanics, in which a story is not what one remembers a Yoshihiro Nishimura movie for. Which is kinda interesting considering these films are primarily made for foreign markets, with domestic distribution on secondary priority.
Anywho, no complaints as hopefully both versions will be made available on DVD and Blu-ray. A deep cinematic experience, admittedly, isn’t what most people go to zombie movies for, but this just might be the closest you’ll ever get. Thumbs up and another one to add to your horror collection! All in all, Helldriver is a gorey time to be had. It is fun, entertaining, and most importantly…absurd! Every year I always wonder where this brand of splatter can possibly go next and every year, Nishimura proves me wrong.