Fantasia 2014 exclusive: Photos and director comments on “ZOMBIE TV”
Undoubtedly, when George A. Romero dished up the first modern zombie film, the last thing he expected was for its premise to spread around the world like an unchecked pandemic. One nation hit hard recently has been Japan, where undead films are on the rise, and one of the latest and certainly the most twisted is ZOMBIE TV, an omnibus of living-dead stories making its Canadian premiere this Saturday, July 19 at Montreal’s Fantasia festival.
The concept for ZOMBIE TV comes from the fertile imagination of TOKYO GORE POLICE and HELLDRIVER’s Yoshihiro Nishimura (1st photo below), who produced and co-directed. The movie attempts to answer the burning question, “What would it have been like if Monty Python had made an episode about zombies?” Like the classic works of Britain’s bad boys, the tales in ZOMBIE TV range in style and length. Some intertwine while others stand alone; some offer satirical observations on society while others are absurd takes on the undead condition with no deeper meaning. And some, in true Nishimura style, are simply there to offend those who can’t take a joke. Directorial duties were shared by Nishimura and newcomers Naoya Tashiro and Maelie Makuno.
“There are a lot of things about zombies that have yet to be answered,” Nishimura tells Fango. “For one thing, what evolutionary process occurred that allows them to run like they do nowadays? In Japan, where we have this whole idol culture, I wondered if zombies too might have their own followers. I’ve also pondered what the outcome would be if you were to pit a zombie against a cannibal. ZOMBIE TV addresses these and many other heretofore unanswered questions.”
The “Zombie vs Cannibal” segment is probably the closest of the lot to being full-on Nishimura. Setting out to be as politically incorrect as possible, it features a musclebound ghoul cast into the ring against an African cannibal prince, replete with blackface, afro wig and a bone through the nose. If that isn’t enough, this guy enters the ring with his most cherished possession—a busted vinyl umbrella he picked up off the street. Narrating the bout: Nishimura himself.
Tashiro helmed a pair of segments, and the 26-year-old admits, “To be honest, I’m a bit of a zombie geek. In fact, my college graduation project was a film titled HIGH SCHOOL GIRL OF THE DEAD! I’ve done a number of independent films, but this is my first time working with a professional crew and cast. I worked extra hard to create something I wouldn’t be ashamed of later. By the way, the naked female zombie in ‘How to Undead Sex’ is Iona, my then-fiancée and now wife. I still remember the subtle expressions on the crew’s face, like they didn’t know what to make of the situation.”
Other segments in ZOMBIE TV feature a lonely man hiding out from the walking dead for decades, a zombie aerobics instructional video, an animated creature called Fleshman who goes around sacrificing his meat in order to keep the hungry undead satisfied, and “Zombie Walker,” a parody of the endless parade of Japanese TV shows dedicated to introducing local shops. This last segment features a lethargic, geriatric ghoul with denture issues, a definite demerit when it comes to eating human flesh.
“Basically, ZOMBIE TV is nothing more than something for you to laugh at with friends,” Nishimura says in conclusion. “And when you watch it, make sure you have a lot of beer on hand too. A lot.”