Section23 Films // 2009 // 76 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 30th, 2009
They're looking for a few dead men.
Another entry into Switchblade's Japanese zombie offering -- previously comprised of Attack Girls' Swim Team Versus The Undead and Zombie Hunter Rika -- Zombie Self Defense Force is the least sleazy, yet, ironically, goriest of the bunch.
The film opens with a weirdo monologue about the United States and war and how awful the fire-bomb campaign against Tokyo was, as well as the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then it's onto a UFO that crash-lands on mainland Japan and radiates a virus that resurrects the dead, who then proceed to rampage and devour civilians, turning them into zombies.
Fortunately, the Japanese Self-Defense Force was training in a nearby forest at the time and promptly brings the fight to the undead marauders. Along the way, they team up with an eclectic group of survivors, and this unique anti-zombie unit proceeds to get coated in fake blood for about an hour or so.
This is low-budget splatter entertainment at its lowest budget and splattiest. If that's what you're in the mood for -- 76 minutes of goopy practical effects, some awful CGI spots, and barely any plot -- then Zombie Self-Defense Force might be for you. I can't imagine who else it would be for.
Since this movie is all about the bloodshed, I suppose I should just concentrate on that. Here's the straight dope: I can't recall a movie that has so utterly soaked its cast members in red fluid and tossed out a shocking amount of fake brains and intestines since Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. There have been plenty of exercises in gore that have crossed my DVD player over the years, but few surpass Zombie Self-Defense Force in terms of kiloliters of Karo syrup spilled. Heads explode, guts are spilled, gallons of blood spew out in geysers, eyeballs pop out of sockets, skin is peeled from legs and torsos and necks, bodies are impaled, and I can't even count the number of extras who vomited up gross liquid.
Although this gooey mayhem is on par with the heavy-hitters in terms of quantity, the difference in quality is stark. Some (okay, most) of these gags are gobsmackingly cheap. That eyeballs-hanging-out-of-the-socket bit? Looks like they affixed a pair of Magic-Marker-colored ping pong balls to the dude's face with wall putty. The decapitated head? Two words: paper mache. There are some decent flourishes: the blood geysers are impressive in their volume, the throat and leg flayings are convincing, and the fake guts are nice and slimy.
And then there's the baby. I brought up Dead Alive for a reason. See, like that film, there's a zombie baby in this one, though it's not nearly as well-executed. Essentially, the diabolical steamer is an inarticulate puppet with a mouth that moves stiffly while being thrown around by stage hands to mimic movement. Then again, it is a zombie baby, so AWESOME!
The disc: a full-frame (read: fake) widescreen, 2.0 Japanese stereo track (with English subtitles), and no extras.
More Japanese zombie slaughtering action. Less nudie and more violent than its brethren.
Not guilty, but only because it doesn't try to be anything more than it is.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Section23 Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 76 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Video: The Trailer