There are movies so good that by the time the credits roll, you’ve already whipped out your cellphone and texted everyone you know that they absolutely have to watch it. And then there are movies so bad, they border on the hilarious and become cult classics (sometimes with dedicated midnight screenings full of fans gleefully chucking various silverware at screens). Monster Killer is not quite cult classic material, but it’s not too far off either.
Directed by Takanori Tsujimoto and produced by veteran Asian action star Yasuaki Kurata, Monster Killer is a campy horror-influenced action film. The film follows two detectives—one a cynical veteran hell-bent on revenge, and the other a young, idealistic straight shooter—as they try to catch a serial killer whose calling card is the decapitated heads of his victims. As the detectives follow the killer’s trail, they find that what they’re dealing with involves the supernatural and is somehow tied to a young woman and her invalid mother.
Fast-paced and bloody, Monster Killer is your typical B-horror movie fare. The acting is overdone, and the characters are bland stock types from various crime procedurals. The tone of the film is set early on; in the opening sequence, the killer captures a young man and literally folds him like a pretzel before stuffing him into a suitcase. However, the first third of the movie then seems to zigzag from B-movie camp to serious attempts at a suspense thriller—tonal whiplash, if you will. Around the halfway-mark, the movie throws all semblance of ‘seriousness’ out the window and it’s here that the film begins to build up a nice rhythm of bloody, over-the-top action sequences. While the fight scenes in Monster Killer aren’t particularly jaw dropping, they are entertaining with a couple of memorable scenes (bones popping out of arm sockets anyone?)
From the cheesy midi-music to the copious amounts of squirting blood, Monster Killer is one of those films where you turn off your brain and just have fun. The film’s plot is basically there to give context to the action sequences—think too hard and you’re setting yourself up for a miserable time. For all its faults, it’d be easy to write off Monster Killer into the hordes of terrible horror films that seem to be flooding theaters these days. But for some reason, there’s a definite charm to Monster Killer; the actors—Kurata in particular—seem to be having fun and their enthusiasm translates onto the screen. All in all, if you’ve got some spare time and enjoy B-films, you could do much worse than Monster Killer.