In the 2006 spoken word/one man show film This Filthy World, John Waters talks about a host of things relating to his upbringing, film making process, influences, passions and a lot of very off-color but funny stories. It is absolutely worth watching more than once. One thing that stuck with me was when he spoke about his parents seeing screenings of his films and their reactions. He describes his mother who, when she cannot think of anything positive to say about something, says ‘where they find the energy, I just do not know’. This is how I feel about Noboru Iguchi’s Dead Sushi. I admire the vision executed and the work ethic and the gonzo sensibilities but in the end, it doesn’t 100% come together as a completed film.
That is not to say it isn’t enjoyable in parts. It is. But on the whole, the collection of nauseating gross-out gags, horrid CGI blood spatter, disjointed script and truly screwy dialogue does not a completed movie make. I would say its most appropriate application is in the background of a party or get together of some kind. Dead Sushi will certainly give you completely random shots that will entertain the passive glancer which, I think, might be part of its purpose. At least I hope so. In the making-of featurette, Iguchi says ‘it is a film about people disrespecting food and the food exacting its revenge.’ Fair enough.
The story (as it were) surrounds a girl (Rina Takeda – High Kick Girl) who sets out on her own after not living up to the expectations of her sushi chef father and instead pursuing a job as a house girl at an inn/restaurant. ((Now, I think it is important to mention, most of what I can describe plot wise is, at best, a guess. The basics are easy enough to grasp but beyond that, your guess is as good as mine)). At the same time she starts her new job, a group of corporate people show up at the inn (chosen because of their quality sushi) for meetings and merriment. An altercation involving a homeless guy outside the inn with a young couple brings into focus that these corporate types might be bad news and turn out to actually be biological engineering madmen who are looking to profit from a serum that resurrects dead tissue. The homeless guy from outside the inn brings in sushi modified with the serum he once helped create (which happens to turn the once dead tissue into monstrous, ravenous creatures) and all hell breaks loose.
“When someone disrespects a sushi chef, the next course he serves is death!”
From this point, trying to describe the plot or what all happens in terms of the homeless guy, the corporate types, our hero girl, the innkeepers and how it all fits together would be useless. It all just sort of happens, sometimes for an understandable reason (homeless guy wants revenge), mostly for completely screwy reasons (house mother decides to entertain guests with an unprompted ‘robot dance’ for one example) but it all just sort of happens. The resurrected sushi take a number of approaches, attacking and biting, growing blades, using flamethrowers (in a very amusing ‘seared salmon sushi’ joke) and doing all manner of damage to the patrons, giggling maniacally all the while. Our hero girl must band with the old janitor at the inn (with a back story of his own that also makes no damned sense) to battle the creatures and keep them from getting outside.
In an inspired bit of Lloyd Kaufman-esque lunacy, the sushi start mating and creating large flying swarms of tiny, bloodthirsty sushi who…well, I think you get the idea. It is nuts. More often than not, it is a fun kind of nuts but it is in the complete randomness of it that I found myself getting bored. I hate saying it in the face of all this creative, deadly sushi abandon, but without some linear story that matters, it is all just sight gags and weirdness and fight sequences and not a lot more than that. Worth a glance sure, but not a dedicated viewing. I do, however, recommend that if you do decide to sit down and take the film in, switch between subtitles and the dubbing track. Each provide their own charm.