I’m going to go out on a limb here and make the following assumption – either you’re reading this review because you love Japanese extremist “horror” and have had this little doozy on your radar for a little while now, or you saw the title Dead Sushi and were so utterly perplexed and curious you clicked my review with no knowledge of what you’re about to hear described. In either case, Konichiwa bitches, and welcome to the review of yet another absurd Noboru Iguchi (Machine Girl/RoboGeisha) masterpiece. About a hour and four minutes into the film a character makes this proclamation: “Things have reached the point where they no longer make any sense.” This is completely wrong – things don’t make sense from square one – but that’s why you watch these types of movies!
So what the hell is Dead Sushi? Can such a delectably delicious piece of insanity actually be described in mere words? Is the title simply just a play on words, or are we actually talking about undead sushi!? Here it goes…
Keiko (Rina Takeda) dreams of one day being a master sushi chef like her father, but runs away from home after many failed attempts and her father’s harsh criticism. Taking a job at a hotel she stumbles across in her travels, she joins their wait staff and struggles to fit in with the other employees. Living a mundane life, everything seems to be under control, until a group of businessmen decide to stay the night and partake in a nice sushi dinner and the hotel’s hot springs.
Starting with dinner, Chef Tsuchida (Kanji Tsuda) displays his “expert” sushi-making skills during an extravagant production that wows the company men, but does not impress Keiko. She calls out both sides for being sushi posers, offends everyone at the hotel, and is forced to fight both Chef Tsuchida and the suits in a martial arts battle. Oh yeah, while all this craziness is going on, a grungy drifter breaks into the hotel with a killer flying squid he uses to murder his victims, setting it free to cause destruction and turn all the sushi in the hotel into living minions who start attacking the humans.
Yes, all the sushi starts flying around the hallways in schools like real fish, eating guests as they go – and that’s only HALF of the movie. I’ll save the other surprises for those adventurous enough to rent Dead Sushi, but trust me when I say these few things – the sushi can come together and form other objects, there’s an epic villain creature you honestly have to see to believe, the film introduces its own spin on zombies, and apparently not all the sushi is evil. Mind = blown.
Here’s the problem, I have a ridiculously hard time reviewing films like this because Dead Sushi is made for a certain audience and no one else. You don’t just wake up one day and decide you’re into Japanese extremist exploitation horror. You can’t slowly build up a tolerance for movies like Tokyo Gore Police. You can’t fake being into randomly overt sexuality, asinine yet hilarious plot devices, extremely silly yet unbelievably enjoyable visuals, ridiculously out-of-place tonal changes, extremely messy and bloody gore, cultural Japanese references out-of-country viewers may find perverted or perplexing, or a product that should rightly leave the sane of mind scratching their head in disbelief.
Just watch the trailer for Dead Sushi as an appetizer and you’ll know whether you can stomach the complete meal. Seriously. If flying sushi latching on to people’s faces and killer squid are your idea of a good movie experience, Iguchi delivers mightily on his promise. If you watch the trailer and roll your eyes or scoff at the concept, don’t even bother attempting a full watch – it only gets more f#cked up from there. Minor road-bumps do occur, which is expected from a film to gratuitously laughable, but for the most part you can just remind yourself sharp-toothed sashimi are right around the corner.
What can I say though, I’m an Iguchi lover, and a lover of these bonkers-type films, and Dead Sushi definitely is prepared with the utmost care and craftsmanship. Delivered in the most sarcastically up-beat and schlockishly scripted manner, this food-fighting B-Movie emits the savory aroma of off-the-wall samurai-sushi brutality to draw viewers in, oozing even more bizarre horror humor than promised with every savory bite. Take your story and shove it – Dead Sushi is all about cinematic fun coupled with a world class chef’s worst nightmare.
Line up the sake, round up your like-minded brethren, and prepare for a viewing experience which can’t be deciphered by logic or reason. Dead Sushi is an exotic extravaganza you partake in every once and a while, something rich and delectable like Sea Urchin, but is surely not an everyday type of product - so don’t treat it like one. Much like real sushi, if you don’t like the fishy flavor of similar concoctions, stay very far away from this blood-soaked meal, but if your iron gullet commands such a glutenous indulgence, look no further than Chef Iguchi’s special of the day – it’s got some real bite.