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Review © Mandi Apple, 2005.

Directed by Naoyuki Tomomatsu, 2001, 79 minutes, starring Natsuki Kato, Tomoka Hayashi, Hinako Saeki, Norman England, Toshinori Omi, Youji Tanaka and Yasutaka Tsutsui.

Directed by Naoyuki Tomomatsu, more notable in the pink film genre than the horror one for his previous releases such as Eat The Schoolgirl: Osaka Telephone Club, and based on a novel by Kenji Otsuki, Stacy seeks to reinvent the hackneyed zombie genre as evidenced by such horrible dreck as Junk and inject a little extra life into the old corpse ;-)

The movie is absolutely chock-full of references to other well-known and beloved flicks such as the Evil Dead trilogy - the delectable Hinako Saeki (veteran of horror movies such as Uzumaki, Eko Eko Azarak III and Rasen) dressed as in a bunny costume to advertise a zombie-dismembering chainsaw known as the 'Bruce Campbell's Right Hand 2', anyone? ;-)), George Romero (the repeat kill troops sanctioned by the UN being known as the 'Romero Troops'), and, bizarrely, Charlie's Angels (as promoted by the 'Drew Illegal Repeat Kill Troop', named after Drew Barrymore), which only adds to the overall daftness. You do get the sense that Tomomatsu is having a bit of a sly giggle with the plot.

One of the criticisms which is often levelled at Stacy is that it's pretentious twaddle, attempting to deliver some kind of deep and meaningful message after the style of something far more serious and adult, such as the astonishing and beautiful Suicide Circle. Personally I cannot believe even for a single solitary second that the 'social commentary' contained within the film is anything other than a giant mickey-take on the part of Tomomatsu - I get the feeling he had to have his tongue surgically removed from the inside of his cheek after making the movie. For me it's just not plausible that on one hand Tomomatsu delivers schoolgirl zombies with exploding eyeballs covered in Butterfly Twinkle Powder, and on the other a serious and ponderous exploration of an inexplicable Armageddon and impending doom for the entire planet ;-)

That said: is the mawkish attempt at poignancy throughout the final segment of the movie a signifier of Tomomatsu attempting to change voice from trash to morality tale rather too late in the day, or is it, as I suspect, even more tongue-in-cheek than before? If it's the former, it's severely misguided (which, admittedly, would not be implausible, given the entire piece is a bit on the misguided side), and if it's the latter, it's plain confusing and not very effective. Either way, it spoils the fun a smidge - if you're trying to make a comedic zombie trash splatterflick, the best thing to do is to leave the paper-thin pseudo-psychology behind and, say, put in some more scenes of cool blood-drenched zombie kogals in sailor fuku chomping fresh human flesh instead ;-)

(If you do actually want a serious and ponderous exploration of an inexplicable Armageddon of young girls in their prime of life, check Junji Ito's masterly short story, Dying Young, from his manga collection Flesh-Colored Horror, which explores the subject in depth, to chilling effect - but don't look for anything similar here, whatever you do, because you'll only be disappointed.)

Surprisingly, Stacy looks rather stylish and glossy, despite its obvious budget restraints. Whilst the gore and guts look fairly rubbery and leave a lot to be desired, it's still a whole lot better than some other zombie movie makeup (I'm looking very hard here at you, Junk and Wild Zero, perpetrators of the odd notion that all zombies are blue in colour ;-)) and has more in common visually with true gore horror like Kichiku dai enkai than those two trash movies. However, the use of what is clearly a pickled onion on a string in place of a prosthetic eyeball is a bit risible, to put it mildly ;-D

In the other aesthetic respects of the movie, the acting isn't much to write home about – the performances are as featherweight as a title like this might ordinarily deliver – and the music is limited to a rather odd plinky-plonky supermarket muzak piano phrase or two à la Richard Clayderman. But neither of them are offensively poor enough to warrant much complaining – they're simply there.

Synopsis

In the parallel-universe year 2001, an inexplicable global phenomenon is causing girls aged between 15-17 years old to not merely die of unknown causes, but to become immediately reanimated and reappear as shuffling zombies known as 'Stacies'. Just before they die, however, they begin to display some thoroughly odd behaviour due to a state known as 'Near Death Happiness' (or indeed NDH for short). This includes: wandering around like a grinning moron, being entranced by fluffy kittens and/or tinkling windchimes, and otherwise acting like a twat monged off their face on E.

Once the poor dear has popped her clogs and become a Stacy, something very strange happens to her skin: it becomes coated in a mysterious and dangerous blue, sparkly, glowing substance known as "Butterfly Twinkle Powder" (or, of course, BTP for short ;-)) Worse still, it transpires that you can't kill a Stacy in time-honoured Resident Evil zombie-fragging tradition with a gunshot to the head. Oh no no, that's far too simple. To properly do away with one, you need to 'repeat kill' it - by dissecting it into exactly 165 pieces.

The UN are recruiting specialist troops of repeat killers to deal with the ever-increasing Stacy population - and not only that, but they're talking of making it compulsory for young men as a kind of National Service, which scares the poop out of anyone within that bracket. There are only three groups of people who are legally entitled to repeat kill a Stacy: the Romero troops, families and boyfriends. Anyone else performing a repeat kill is breaking the terms of the newly-implemented Stacy Law and automatically signs their own death warrant.

So is this really the beginning of worldwide apocalypse? With the population of the planet dwindling due to young girls becoming Stacies - not to mention the people they off before they get offed themselves - the World Health Organisation in conjunction with internationally-renowned scientists is frantically trying to not merely come up with an explanation for the phenomenon, but a solution for it.

In a small puppet theatre workshop, there are two puppeteers, Matsui and Shibukawa (Toshinori Omi), who are of age to be recruited into a Romero Troop. However, one day Shibukawa meets a young girl named Eiko (Natsuki Kato), who is grinning her head off and twiddling a glass wind chime, which can only bode ill. Of course, she is suffering with a bad case of NDH and reckons she has about a week to live - and asks her new friend Shibukawa to repeat kill her when her time comes. But it develops into a highly unlikely romance: will Shibukawa be able to repeat kill his new love when her time comes?

However, thanks to the Romero Troops being so overworked they are virtually incommunicado, there are lots of illegal vigilante groups springing up all over, including a group of three glamorous girls, the 'Drew Illegal Repeat Kill Troops', dressed up to the nines, clearly wanting to carve out a name as superheroes fighting the forces of evil, in it for the money and fame.

Meanwhile, back in his lab, Doctor Inugami, who first announced the phenomenon, is conducting experiments on Stacies, trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. He's worked out that the sparkly Butterfly Twinkle Powder has something to do with the murderous intent of Stacies needing to feed - but will he be able to come up with a solution to the problem before it's too late?

Stacy is pure, stupid, mindless Fun with a capital F-*ck me what a mess ;-) There's nothing deep, meaningful or even purposeful about this movie, which makes it unpalatable for some, particularly po-faced critics whose idea of a good night out involves chess, chin-stroking and a pint of real ale in some way. Not everyone wants their grey matter to be challenged by a movie, and not everyone wants to watch challenging, thoughtful movies all the time. One small criticism would be though that the middle section of the movie gets a bit tedious: there are only so many long, drawn-out shots of meandering, shuffling girl zombies making their extre-e-e-emely slow way down corridors that you can deliver before you really need a bit of plot development of some kind to move things along.

If you want to give your overworked brain a quick holiday, grab some beer and crisps, put your feet up and enjoy Stacy for the entire sum of what it is: a really childish, crappy, dumb, badly-made, entertaining and funny piece of rubbish zombie trash. Simultaneously sublime and ridiculous.

Snowblood Apple Rating for this film:

Entertainment Value: 7/10
Chills: 0/10
Violence: 11/10
Laughs: 5/10
Sex: 0/10
Bruce Campbell's Right Hand 2: only 1400 Yen, get 'em while they're hot!
Sexy Chainsaw Bunny Girls: 1
Exploding Zombies: 397 or thereabouts ;-)
Pickled Onions: 1, on a string
Litres of Tomato Ketchup: a convoy of giant tankers

Films in a Similar Style: Junk, Wild Zero, Bio-Zombie, Versus, Evil Dead

*** Good splattery rubbishy fun ***

Stacy Wallpaper
please note: the actual paper does not have the Snowblood Apple logo on it.

You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600] [1024x768]
Wallpaper credit: Alex Apple, 2005

Snowblood Apple Filmographies

Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Natsuki Kato
Toshinori Omi
Tomoka Hayashi

Links

http://www.horrordvdtalk.com/reviews/Stacy/Stacy.htm - a review of the Synapse Films release, including an overview on the disc quality, a review of the movie itself and an separate review of the extras, with lots of pictures
http://www.vicecentral.com/movies/movies.php?p=103 - Fritz the Cat at Vice Central enjoyed the movie too...
http://www.teleport-city.com/movies/reviews/r-s/stacy.html - ...however, Teleport City hated it. Oddly, I can't fault their reasoning ;-)
http://www.buried.com/cgi-bin/reviews/viewreviews.cgi?category=20&id=1063060379 - short, concise and very succinct paragraph at Buried.com
http://www.dvdmaniacs.net/Reviews/Q-T/stacy.html - well-presented review with technical specs at DVDManiacs

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