Friday, June 27, 2008

REVIEW: Junk - Atsushi Muroga (2000)

Reviewed by Chris MaGee

The basic laws of life and death have been tampered with at a Top Secret U.S. military facility in Okinawa. Scienstists have developed a chemical agent called DNX with invaluable military applications. DNX brings humans back from the dead, but there's only one problem, they don't come back as humans, but as monsters, or to be more specific, flesh eating zombies! After a horrific attack by the test subjects on the doctors working in the facility the decision is made to lock down the base and bring in Dr. Nakada (Yuji Kishimoto), the scientist who helped develop DNX, to put an end to this abomination once and for all. But wait! There's more!

As the military tries to put their zombie pandora back in its box a jewelery store is being cleaned out by a crew of masked thiefs. It's the classic screnario, "Don't make a move and no one gets hurt," but you know and I know that things aren't going to go down that way. One woman is brave, or stupid, and attacks one of the robbers with a pair of scissors, and that's all it takes for the bullets to start flying. With an injured man and a robbery being escalated to murder the crew led by the gorgeous Saki (Kaori Shimamura) take what jewels they have and agree to meet their yakuza contacts at the appointed rendevous point. Where's that you may ask? Where do you think? That's right, an out of the way abandoned military base... zombie central! And as the byline to the movie says "Everbody fights," but mostly to survive.

Now at this point you'll have to excuse the pulpy language in this review, but there isn't really any other way that you can describe Atsushi Muroga's 2000 B-grade zombie flick "Junk" than by channeling your inner Monster Chiller Horror Theatre. Despite the fact that the zombie movie genre has made real progress from the campy "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Tombs of the Blind Dead" to the terrifying "28 Days Later" and Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead" "Junk" lands firmly in the not-so-great movie category, with our undead baddies chasing after both Saki and Dr. Nakada at a pace that would frustrate snails. Sure there's enough blood spurting, viscera and of course gratuitous nudity, displayed by the buxom and remarkably well preserved "smart zombie" Kyôko, to satisfy any fan of the Japanese extreme horror genre, but all the gore is leavened by some truly terrible acting, the only real frights in "Junk" coming from the abysmal English dialogue delivered by Dr. Nakada and his U.S. military counterparts.

Is "Junk" a worthy candidate for the waning J-Horror phenomena? I'd have to say no. Can it stand side by side with such classics as Masaki Kobayashi's "Kwaidan? Hell no, but it can keep a group of you and your friends laughing for its 83 minute running time, providing you've got a case of beer and a couple of joints to pass around.

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