Review: Meatball Machine

July 18, 2009 at 9:19 pm by  

Craving a Japanese horror, sci-fi love story? Who isn’t? Well Yûdai Yamaguchi and Jun’ichi Yamamoto’s Meatball Machine should stifle those cravings, even if its just for a little bit. It’s quite splatastic, involving alien parasites who use human bodies as their own personal battle stations, turning their hosts into bio-mechanical messes called Necroborgs. If you are one of the unlucky individuals who has one of these aliens enter your body, you find yourself completely at the mercy of your invader as you are forced to track down other Necroborg’s and engage in battles to the bloody death. The weapons used vary, but in every case these weapons are built out of you – the alien using advanced technology to transform your flesh into a variety of weapons.

In Meatball Machine, we meet a shy loner Yoji (Issei Takahashi), who has a crush on the equally shy, Sachiko (Aoba Kawai). When not getting his ass kicked by tranvestites, the reserved Yoji spends most of his free time at work staring at Sachiko as she hangs up laundry nearby, or at home jacking off thinking about her, never able to muster up enough courage to tell Sachiko how he feels. But things change for Yoji when he is able to stop Sachiko from being raped, even though this ended with Yoji getting yet another ass-kicking. But Yoji does use the oppurtunity to lay down the moves on Sachiko and tell her how he feels. To his surprise, he learns that Sachiko feels the same way about him. But poor Yoji’s happiness will not last long.

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In what could be considered a first date disaster, Yoji finally gets a little lip action from Sachiko, he gets to watch in horror as Sachiko is violated and then assimilated by a parasite – turned into a Necroborg before his eyes. The rest of the film details Yoji hunting for Sachiko in an attempt to help free her from the parasite that is controlling her, leading to a guilt-ridden Yoji becoming a Necroborg himself, engaging in a battle to the death with the girl he loves.

I have heard of this film over the last couple years and finally got a chance to watch it. One of my main reasons for waiting so long was simply because the majority of the reviews were lukewarm at best and some reviewers pointing out that Meatball Machine rips off some other well-known films. But after finally checking it out you can count me in as one of the people who enjoyed it. Seriously, Meatball Machine enters as one of the more entertaining B-Movies I have watched in a while. The effects in the movie are solid, from the low-budget,  John Carpenter‘s The Thing-ish style transformations of the humans, to the well-crafted NecroBorgs. While the Necroborg getups are obviously foam, making the Necroborg’s look like possible GWAR members, you can tell that a lot of time and detail was put into creating them.

Meatball Machine has has a slew of splattery effects that included head splitting, kiddie splatting, eye drilling, and buckets of blood. Even the parasites themselves were done to great effect and during the battles between the Necroborgs, showning the parasite operating a human host from the inside like a man sitting inside. These scenes of the parasite and the internal operations of the Necroborg are decent, the mixture of the mechanical working alongside the biological with scenes of moving mechanical apparatus surrounded by blood and tissue done well.

If I were to find any fault with the film, it would simply be that the first 3\4 of the movie is used to set up the obvious final confrontation between our two lovers-turned-Necroborg. A confrontation that goes on just a tad too long and never quite pays off. That’s not to say the final battle is bad, as these parasites know how to turn human flesh into some pretty nasty weaponry such as saw blades, swords, organic blood-missiles  and even a gut cannon, but it was still a bit underwhelming. I don’t know if this is intentional, or if I am just picking up on some cultural differences, but I also couldn’t help but notice that there seems to be an underlying message in the film warning the viewer the dangers of showing your emotions. But who gives a shit about all of that when you have alien parasites turning unwilling humans into a Borg designed by David Cronenberg?

Budget restraints keep the entire set in an industrial area, which add to the steam-punk vibe of the film, but it’s put to good use as well as waving away a minor plot problem regarding these Necroborgs being able to wander around unnoticed. Hopefully a sequel will come out one day as the ending, which consists of a conversation between two parasites (yes, it is just as silly as it sounds), definitely sets things up for one. Be sure to check out all of the extras on the DVD, they do a lot to explain some of the backstory of the two main characters, as well as the parasite\Necroborg relationship.

Let me know if you have seen this. If you have, let me know what you thought. If you have not seen this, and are a fan of low-budget, B-Movie splatter, you really should track this one down, grab a friend or two and give it a shot. Watch the opening sequence where you’ll see part of a transformation, two Necroborg’s fighting and a head cleaved in two – all under 3 minutes. Afterwards, you will know if this is some of the silliest shit you will never watch, or some of the silliest shit you cannot wait to get your hands on. I was in the latter category. But I’m sure you guessed that already.


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