With a special edition Blu-ray coming soon—April 12th, 2021—I thought I would take another look at the techno/splatterpunk and body horror film from Japanese directors Yudai Yamaguchi and Junichi Yamamoto, 2005’s Meatball Machine!
Capable of making bio-mechanical weapons out of human flesh, alien parasites grotesquely invade the Earth, turning their hosts into maniacal killers who seek and destroy each other to the bloody death! And yes, it’s also a human love story, even though the budding romantics are infested with slimy, tumor-like globules.
So… what would happen if you mixed Ichi the Killer and The Guyver in a blender and threw in a splash of David Cronenberg and Power Rangers? Meatball Machine is the answer for that. The film has a ton of creative energy on display, showing a lot of creative homages to all of the above sources. There’s a bunch of goopy, gory effects and lunacy to the action. So that shows that, mechanically, the film is strong, right? How about the titular meat and the heart behind it?
Well, yes and no. The film peppers in some creative ideas, like a mad scientist hunting other Necroborgs—as the film describes the mutilated and possessed people controlled by the alien parasites—to feed his daughter, and the actual motives of the alien’s masters are revealed in the ending. Going through the film’s plot, it’s almost an even split on quality. The first act is confused in intentional. It’s slow paced and serves mainly to reinforce that the protagonist, Yoji, is painfully lonely and mopey and that he is surrounded by constantly horny adults whose sex drives range from “a bit too open about it” to “should definitely be on a list and/or in jail,” along with the occasional sight of the mad scientist. Once the Machine meets Meat(ball?) around the second act, things get livelier. An actual love story plot forms between the protagonist couple getting infected by the parasites, and a backstory and motivation appears for the mad scientist. I got really into it again at this point, but getting there, on this re-watch, was hard. It felt rather slow and one note. Glad I stuck with it for the weird, hyperviolent cartoon energy and fun (if lower budgeted for a feature) effects and creature design.
The film is receiving a really coolly designed and loaded with bonus features I can’t wait to check out Blu-ray release on April 12th. You can find more information on it and still preorder at the Terracotta website here!