Studio: TLA Releasing
Director: Yudai Yamaguchi, Junichi Yamamoto
Writer: Junya Kato, Yudai Yamaguchi, Yukihiko Yamaguchi, Junichi Yamamoto
Producer: Yukihiko Yamaguchi, Chikako Nakabayashi, Manabu Shinoda
Stars: Issei Takahashi, Aoba Kawai, Kenichi Kawasaki, Taro Suwa, Shoichiro Masumoto, Ayano Yamamoto, Tohru Tezuka
Alien parasites of unknown origin transform human hosts into robot/creature hybrids that battle each other to the death.
You could make a game show out of people watching “Meatball Machine” and challenging contestants to be first to describe what the plot is. The problem is that it would be almost an hour before anybody buzzed in with a guess.
Good luck getting a grip on the movie in its earliest moments. Frantically framed shots sometimes center on nothing of particular import. Edits often cut hectically or abruptly fade with no real rhyme or reason.
I’d take out a red pen to mark up the film for looking like it was shot on videotape in one hell of a hurry by someone with a head fueled more by caffeine and cocaine than sensible cinema knowledge. Except the joke might be on me because the slapdash style of slaughter and silliness is all part of the project’s persistent punk rock attitude.
Since almost anything goes when describing the movie, “Meatball Machine” is a furious frenzy of “Turbo Kid” (review here) meets Troma mixing the maniac musicians of GWAR with the tiny terrors of Full Moon’s “Puppet Master” in full-size form. It’s essentially only one kaiju and giant robot away from being a kitchen sink stew of everything amazing and absurdist about nutty Japanese pop culture stuffed into one midnight movie. I can’t imagine its target audience, whoever that is, would want it any other way.
This is the spot where a standard summary should go, but I have nearly no idea where to start, end, or what to even put in between. The story, such as there is one, concerns alien parasites of unknown origin that transform human hosts into “necroborgs,” monstrous mutations with robot parts and organic appendages that fight each other to the death.
Forget common sense questions such as how and why. The only other thing you need to know is there is a warped romance at the center involving a lonely woman and lonelier man tragically forced to fight one another in hideous hybrid form.
Actually, that’s not the only other thing you need to know. I don’t know why I said that. Blame the movie for rewiring my mind with a confounding barrage of “wha huhs?” and WTFs.
Sample a smattering of select setups listed in random order below. This is the teeter-totter of personal taste boundaries determining whether you’re likely to respond to “Meatball Machine” with a “hell yeah” or a “hell no.”
· A power drill tears into an eyeball like it is a soft-boiled egg.
· A transvestite beats a man outside of a porno theater for turning down an unsolicited handjob.
· A woman is nearly date-raped by an aggressive coworker.
· That same woman is tentacle-raped by creature tendrils that turn her into a necroborg through sexual assault.
· Masturbation. Suicide. Barf. Exploding heads. Exploding children. If it’s disgusting or confrontational, but wild or weird, “Meatball Machine” goes for it.
“Meatball Machine” is a 90-minute remake of a 70-minute version from 1999. I have to believe that shorter length was probably just fine since the final half hour of this 2005 edition is mostly an endless extravaganza of graphic gore. Yet once again, I defer to the idea that those who go gaga for a goopy splatterfest that functions better as a special effects demo reel than it does as a feature film probably have no problem with an overstayed welcome for excessive red rain and chunky body part showers.
Is “Meatball Machine” a quality-made motion picture with narrative merit? Not on your life. Is it a tentacles-to-the-wall acid trip of alien body horror, monster on monster mayhem, and more blood than the Red Cross sees donated in a year? Most definitely.
Using a scale of normalcy, the only fair way to rate something so out of its gourd is with a middle-splitting 50/100. Odds are even that could be 50 points too high or fifty points too low. With “Meatball Machine,” there’s nearly no way of knowing anything for certain.
NOTE: The film's Japanese title is "Mitoboru mashin."
Review Score: 50