Friday, July 30, 2021

Roots Search: Shokushin buttai X (1986)

... aka: ルーツ・サーチ 食心物体X
... aka: Alien, el dibujo animado (Alien, the Cartoon)
... aka: Criatura del espacio (Space Creature)
... aka: Roots Search
... aka: Roots Search: Heart-Eating Object X
... aka: Roots Search: X, the Throbbing Thing

Directed by:
Hisashi Sugai

At the Tolmeckius ESP Research Center (it's a space station), scientist / commander Marcus and his two man crew - blondie Scott and bulky Norman - are experimenting on a fourth crew member; a powerful, huge-eyed psychic named Moira, who's having a recurring bad dream that may not just be a nightmare but instead a premonition of things to come. A large "warpship" called Green Planet, which is forbidden in the sector the scientists are currently traveling in, shows up on their radar. Attempts at communication don't work so they take another smaller ship to the spacecraft, board it and discover a few horrifying things. The corridors are spattered in blood and most of the former crew have been reduced to skeletons. There is, however, one unconscious survivor; second officer Buzz, whom they promptly take aboard their ship. Further exploration of the Green Planet uncovers something else: An alien being that appears to be dead. Not to take an unnecessary chances, Commander Marcus immediately orders it to be shot into space.

Soon after, Marcus is visited by a mind-reading, shape-shifting, vagina-fang-mouthed supernatural being that announces it's going to kill him. It then reveals that it knows a dark secret from his past (he betrayed / framer a former project director, which led him to suicide) and next thing Marcus knows he's being impaled to the ceiling by a large shard of metal. Moira and Scott find the mutilated body but when Buzz awakens, they assure him everything is A-OK. Unfortunately it's not for Norman, who's attacked next. He remembers back to a time when he and a soldier buddy were fighting some giant tentacles monsters called "mordi" and he failed to save his friend's life. Norman ends up with smoke rolling out of his mouth and eye sockets but somehow manages to survive, while the alien promises "I will kill you inside of two hours!"

Scott, who's pissed that Moira is clearly finding herself attracted to Buzz and not him, wanders off and has an encounter with a naked former lover who slit her wrists in the bathtub after he called things off with her. Meanwhile, Norman's old army buddy shows up to lead him to his doom inside an airlock, which makes his body explode. The alien takes multiple other forms, like a pink tentacled monster, a giant brain and some spider-looking thing, calls itself a "messenger from God" and claims it's there to destroy humanity for indulging in malice, greed, lust, evil and other sinful behavior. However, since it's also a master at manipulation, it may very well be lying, something the ambiguous non-ending kind of fails to clear up.

So, about that ending (psst, you may want to skip this paragraph for spoiler purposes)... After the ship explodes, our heroes (who first have a hilarious pink-tinged romantic fantasy frolicking around naked in a field while a fetus floats through space) end up (I think?) on the insides of the creature. It's filled with pulsating organs, veiny webs, tunnels and long-dead corpses, with a color palette that looks hand selected by your average 7-year-old girl. Moira thinks they may actually be in either heaven or hell, and they possibly are, or whatever an afterlife equivalent of either may actually be. This is all left entirely up in the air. However, this entire last scene is a pretty blatant rip-off of the finale of Fulci's The Beyond of all things! In that, a couple spend the film fighting zombies and end up blinded and in hell for their troubles. Here, a couple spend the film fighting an alien, one is blinded and they end up in a hell-like place for their troubles.

This was one of many 80s ALIEN-inspired OVA (original video animation i.e. anime made specifically for the home video market) and it's one of the most hated titles amongst anime fans that I've come across. Viewers criticize the derivative / unoriginal story line, the cheap animation, the pacing, the bland characters and many other subpar aspects of the film. Though I agree with them to an extent, this is still fairly entertaining and has a few interesting ideas.

In addition to multiple VHS and VCD releases in Asia, there were English-subtitled VHS releases from Columbia Video and U. S. Manga Corps Video, as well as an English-subtitled laserdisc release from Image Entertainment in 1993. Spanish-language versions were also released under several different titles.

Chi no sangeki (1984)

... aka: 血の惨劇
... aka: Blood Tragedy
... aka: Scourge of Blood

Directed by:
Shozin Fukui

An early short (either his first ever or at least the first one that's currently available) from the director of later weird flicks like 964 Pinocchio (1991) and Rubber's Lover (1996). So what do we get crammed into just 3 minutes? Well, I suppose quite a bit stylistically but next to nothing otherwise.

A young man is walking along the riverbank by himself. Another man, dressed like a punk rocker with messy hair and black leather jacket, walks toward him. As the two near each other, the punker pulls out a switchblade and then the man starts running for his life. During the chase that ensues, the man falls down, almost gets stabbed, gets back up, runs, falls again, starts rolling around on the ground with the attacker, gets the knife away from the punk, stabs him in the leg and then the relentless punker pulls it out and finally stabs the other guy to death as blood shoots all over the camera lens. The punk then smiles, laughs and merrily runs away like he just won the lottery. It's amateurishly photographed, flash-edited like a music video and scored with a noisy, tuneless Japanese punk song. This probably would have been great as some kind of promotional video for the band whose music featured or something for them to show in the background as they performed, and may, in fact, actually been used as such at one time.

Fukui also made the short GERORISUTO, which was filmed in 1986 but not released until 1990 and basically just consists of a girl acting weird and then puking a lot, and the 33-minute cyberpunk film Caterpillar (1988).

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