Writers: Atsushi Muroga, JB Baker, Kuzuki Youko, Terao Emiko
Producer: Kurosu Isao
Cast: Nobuyuki Asano, Osamu Ebara, Kaori Shimamura
Year of release: 1999
Reviewed from: UK DVD (Artsmagic)
Junk is a slice of low-budget zombie nonsense which is fast-paced and fun and contains some of the worst acting you’ll ever see. It has some clever bits, some clicheed bits and some very cheesy zombie make-up, but it all whizzes along at such a rate that it’s impossible to dislike.
Our opening scene sees Dr Kinderman (Richard Jones) and his assistant Sharon (credited on-screen as Debolar Joy Vinall, listed in most sources as Debra J Binarl) testing a drug called DBX that can reanimate the dead. Dr K injects the goop into a nude, female corpse, who to nobody’s surprise sits up and bites a lump out of his neck.
Our main protagonists are a quartet of aspiring crooks whom we meet as they rob a jewellery store. They are brash leader Jun (Nobuyuki Asano), man-hating Saki (Kaori Shimamura: Moon Angel), cowardly Akira (Osamu Ebara: Score) who gets stabbed in the foot, and making-up-the-numbers Kabu (Keishi Shigemura). With their haul of necklaces, they head for an empty factory to rendezvous with their employer, yakuza Ramon (a cracking performance by Tate Gouta).
But of course, this ‘empty factory’ is actually the industrial complex where Kinderman and his Japanese colleagues, in collaboration with the US military, were carrying out secret reanimation experiments, and it isn’t long before our gang run into a bunch of zombies (including Kinderman) and Jun is rather messily killed. Outside, they find Ramon and three goons who laugh at their tales of zombies, take the jewels without paying and then shoot Kabu. At which point a zombified Jun appears and chows down on one of the goons. After this, we’re into a free-for-all gangsters-vs-zombies chase’n’fight with Ramon and his other two goons eventually succumbing, but not before their automatic weaponry has shattered containers of DBX, spilling the contents all over some neatly stored corpses...
Into this mess come Sgt Davis (Patric/Patrick Jones) and Dr Takashi Nikada (Yuuji Kishimoto: Mechanical Violator Hikaida) who have been assigned to deal with the situation by Col. McGriff (Mark C Morehouse, not Moorehouse as credited on many sources). An attempt to remotely set the factory’s self-destruct system(!) failed when the three-minute countdown was replaced by the message ‘I Love You - K’ and a tinny, electronic rendering of ‘My Darling Clementine’, which strangely unnerves Dr Nikada.
The countdown was stopped by Nude Dead Girl Zombie from scene one, who looks very much alive, unlike the pasty-faced, rapidly decomposing, shambling hulks that now populate the building (including of course Jun, Ramon and the others). She turns out to be especially troublesome, togged up in a rubber mini-dress and thigh boots (which I guess she just, um, found somewhere). She has superhuman strength and agility, a tendency to turn her hair white to look scarier, and even chopping her in half doesn’t stop her. None of which makes a lot of sense but at least imparts some originality to a film which otherwise could have been made in Italy 20 years ago.
The Japanese acting is okay, but the American acting is truly terrible; in particular, Morehouse is staggeringly, hilariously bad. That’s because these aren’t actors at all, not even amateur ones: Morehouse, Jones and all the other Americans, including several of the zombies, actually are US marines stationed in Okinawa. And whereas Jones (who looks a bit like Ryan Stiles) is just a poor actor, speaking his lines in a flat monotone as he stares blankly ahead, Morehouse is that most awful thing - a bad actor who thinks he can act. Every word is misemphasised, every sentence broken halfway through, as he recites by rote what is frankly piss-poor dialogue anyway. Jesus, he’s bad!
Despite the presence of three Japanese writers and one American, the script here really isn’t up to much, though that doesn’t really matter with undead hoopla of this calibre. The zombie make-up and gore effects are cheap and cheerful, the photography and direction not bad.
Curiously, despite the fact that about a third of this film’s dialogue is in English (subtitled in Japanese), Artsmagic have chosen to subtitle the whole thing, laying English subs over the Japanese ones for these scenes. While that might be useful sometimes for Kishimoto, who speaks English with a very thick accent, it’s just puzzling for the American ‘actors’.
Evil Dead Trap and Uzumaki; the Junk trailer is in much worse shape than the film, but does include different dialogue and a shot from at least one unused scene. There are also a couple of dozen or so stills, Japanese video sleeves for a couple of Muroga’s other, very obscure films (his best known movie is Score) and the Japanese video sleeve for Junk with - very nice idea, this - translation of all the various text thereon. Oh, and bio-filmographies for the director and principal cast, courtesy of Yours Truly.
Junk is cheap, trashy, undemanding, very silly zombie/yakuza fun - I mean, who puts a self-destruct system in a factory? - and Mark C Morehouse has no idea how entertaining he really is...
MJS rating: C+
13th October 2006