izabrana dela

izabrana dela

субота, 07. фебруар 2009.

NEZULLA THE RAT MONSTER

NEZULLA THE RAT MONSTER

Country :

Japan

Year:

2002

Genre:

Horror/SF

Format:

DVD

Running Time:

1H 30

Distributor:

Media Blasters (Tokyo Shock)

Date reviewed:

04/16/07

Producer:

Tomonori Nahimoto

Director:

Kanta Tagawa

Cast:

Daisuke Ryu, Yoshiyuki Kubota, Mika Katsumura, Ayumi Tokitou

Story: Under orders from the US army, a company conducted tests involving anti-bacteriological weapons. During their experimentation, a rat became infected with mysterious bacteria, mutating into a hideous rat monster. No one in the movie actually calls it Nezulla, but its name comes from 'nezumi' (Japanese: 'rat'), so the literal English translation should be: Ratzilla. Anyway, as the result of this incident, the testing was aborted, the lab was shut down and abandoned. The whole thing is wisely thrown under the carpet in the hope that no one would notice an epidemic of plague-like, vomit-inducing disease, or a giant (well, seven feet tall) Ratzilla munching on teenagers with nothing better to do than walk slowly down the abandoned corridors of the ex-military facility in the middle of the night. As a result, there is an outbreak 'of epic proportions', as the DVD sleeve claims (there are twenty extras in one scene! –I must add). In order to cover up, or solve the matter, five or six soldiers are sent there, armed only with fire-wood. In the claustrophobic environment, lots of male bonding ensues.

Review: NEZULLA THE RAT MONSTER was made in 2002. I was wondering why this film is presented to us only now, five years later, but then it hit me: this is the title that actually inspired the much-praised THE HOST. After the latter became so successful, the audience is now invited to enjoy the original.

Let's see: one monster vs. the rest of mankind (represented by a city) – check! Genetic mutation as the cause – check! Fear of epidemic contagion (and the resulting quarantine) – check! Americans as the root of all evil – check! Less emphasis on monster action than on human emotions and drama – check! Lame, anti-climactic ending – check! A self-sacrifice for the sake of monster destruction – check! And so on. These similarities are too many to be called accidental. I can see a lawsuit coming, and rightly so! THE HOST is obviously a blatant rip-off of NEZULLA THE RAT MONSTER! Remember, folks: you heard it here first.

But, one has to admit, THE HOST mostly improved on those elements above (and then some). First of all, the monster itself is nothing but a man in the rubber suit. Remember that old joke about the monster-movies from the fifties, where you could spot the zipper on the creature's back? Well, half a century later, it's still valid. In some scenes a keen-eyed viewer can easily spot the dividing line between the 'rat-torso' and 'rat-legs' parts of the costume. Ultra-low budget prevented the makers from using any animatronics or hidraulics even for the monster's head: instead, his face has only two movements: 1) the eyes can blink (wow!), and 2) the rubber-jaws can stretch from 'wide' to 'slightly wider'. CGI was also, apparently, beyond their scope, at least concerning the monster. It's present in the shape of two poorly rendered helicopters, and a 'big' explosion at the end which would look too cheap in some sixties GODZILLA flick.

While Nezulla's design is quite decent, its low-budget execution leaves A LOT to be desired. One would expect the makers to compensate for that by using copious amounts of spurting red liquid, oozing goo and chewed-off body parts. Ehh, no such luck. Apparently, the budget was too low even for a load of ketchup. This must be the dryest monster-horror I've ever seen. All of the killings are off-screen.

"Well, maybe they were not going for the jugular: maybe they wanted a more action-oriented film?" I hear you say. Maybe. But the monster-action in this film is rare (confined to a total of less than 5 minutes), and when it takes place, it's so laughable you'd rather think they were aiming for comedy. The monster spends most of the time in one of these three activities: 1) waiting (and waiting... and waiting...); 2) hissing and assuming 'menacing' poses in front of the characters, politely waiting for them to deliver their inane dialogue; and 3) fist-fighting with the main guys and throwing them around (instead of using its huge teeth, talons or at least the barbed tail). Talk about wasted potentials.

"OK, so they went political: the whole movie is not a fanboy wet-dream of gore and horror, but a layered attack on the growing American imperialism and its careless attitude toward the rest of the world, right?" I hear you ask. You wish, says I! There are a couple of lines in the beginning that seem to be anti-American, but they are cliched and largely forgotten later on. The film is so confused about its politics (if any), that it's never quite clear how come that Japanese-looking characters have American names, and claim to be American soldiers.

"In that case," I can hear another wise-guy, "they must've realized that what the world needs is a warm, human story full of suppressed emotions which rise to the surface in the midst of harshest circumstances, thus affirming humanity of its well-developed characters." Well, I guess that's one way of saying: "We didn't have enough money for monster, gore, or even decent sets, so we'll have actors sit around and talk endlessly about their boring past". The dialogues are text-book examples of character exposition: you don't have to observe these people at all since they TELL you more than you'd possibly want to know in something called NEZULLA THE RAT MONSTER. It's more like: MOUTH-FULLA: THE ENDLESS-TALK MONSTER! With a tag-line. "It will bore you to tears!" Some of those tears could, actually, be produced by laughing, especially when the two main guys start a lenghty male-bonding, confessing their feelings, sharing family photos, cigarettes and the like. You haven't seen anything like this, at least not in what's advertised as a monster-movie!

If taken seriously, this poor excuse for a movie fails on almost every conceivable level. Next to it, another gaint-rat monster-movie, Stephen King's THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT (with Brad Dourif as the rat-catcher) is a truly grand-scale horror of epic proportions. However, there's one use that it's great for. It's a perfect viewing material for an evening with your drinking buddies: this is one of those archetypal 'so-bad-it's-a-laugh-riot' movies, and as such, it is a mandatory viewing for all those who can find pleasure wallowing in trash (you know who you are!). If, on the other hand, you want to watch this sober and alone... think again.

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