Now in its sixth year the Sydney Underground Film Festival has firmly laid claim to the weird and wonderful world of movies on the festival circuit. In doing so it has provided Australian audiences with access to a unique, colourful and bizarre celluloid landscape that wouldn’t ordinarily see the light of day.
Thank God they do, because films like Tokyo Vampire Hotel fits the criteria perfectly, offering a diverse and delightful skew on the tried genre of vampirism, which is so refreshing to see.
Japanese director Sion Sono provides a theatrical cut to his 9 part miniseries for the festival, with a rich and striking pallet that sometimes feels like it is dripping off the screen.
The characters are instantly iconic and ooze charisma, from the magnanimous Yamada to the sword-wielding K, the latter cutting a familiar figure in Japanese folk mythology and on occasion triggers images of Lady Snowblood to the mind’s eye.
K’s character complements the old and new world of vampire legend, hailing from the Dracula dynasty and charged with locating and protecting soon-to-be 22 year old Manami from rival vampire clan, the Corvins.
Manami becomes the core focus for the warring families as they vie for her pure blood and become victors once and for all.
It’s obvious that this film originated in broken down segments with the pace and energy peppering the narrative at a cracking pace, and constantly pushing the viewer onto the next scenario. The soundtrack also helps to fire the action along thanks to math-rock act Tricot’s catchy upbeat anthems. To Sono’s credit he does this seamlessly and with each instance he up’s the ante and trebles the crazy much to the delight of this reviewer.
The result has us see some beautiful images and strange scenarios from total annihilation by a sugary sweet assassin, armed with crazy dialogue and an endless supply of ammo and arsenal to take out an entire café; to massive gunfights and explosions on the streets of Tokyo; and full-on gore, mayhem, and bloody carnage, as vampires and mortals rip each other to shreds.
It’s a glorious sight to behold and leaves you wanting more from the world that Sono has created on-screen.
Tokyo Vampire Hotel has cult viewing written all over it and deserves a global audience. Go see the theatrical cut while you can.
– Saul Muerte
FRIDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER – 10.30PM