Thursday, August 25, 2016

Meatball Machine (2005)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Every so often, Epinions has a promotion with first reviews.  Every so often, I feel the need to watch a movie few others can sit through.  What do you get when you put these two things together?  You get a review for Meatball Machine.  The movie is 93 minutes long.  Ten minutes in, I thought of shutting it off.  Twenty minutes in, I couldn’t believe that I still had an hour to go.  After that, it started to pick up, but that’s not saying much.

The movie starts with someone hunting down aliens to kill them.  Not much is explained about who he is or why he’s doing this.  He is, however, dragging his daughter along for the ride.  We also have Yoji, a factory worker who doesn’t seem to hang out much with his boss and coworkers.  He does like to sit and sneak peeks of Sachiko, a woman who works next door.   After work one day, his neighbor walks in on him while he‘s practicing a little self love.

The action begins maybe ten minutes later when Yoji is visiting an adult theater.  Someone sits down next to him.  We soon realize that this someone is a transvestite.  Yoji keeps rejecting his advances until he has to walk out of the theater to get away.  The transvestite takes offense and beats the crap out of Yoji.  While Yoji is recovering, something drips on him.  He looks up to find an alien, which he takes home so he can study it further.

As he’s walking home from a prostitute his roommate hired for him, he finds someone trying to rape a woman.  Turns out that the woman is Sachiko and the man is his boss.  He tries to fight his boss, but once again gets the crap beaten out of him.  The boss walks away, leaving Sachiko to walk Yoji home.  Bare in mind that this is all within the first half hour of the movie.  We still have an hour to go.

When they get back to his place, Sachiko and Yoji admit that they’ve both been checking each other out.  He starts to undress her, but she reveals that she has a scar on her chest and that her father put it there.  As she’s recounting this, the lights start to flicker and the alien comes to life and attaches itself to her.  Once again, Yoji gets the crap beaten out of him.  When the neighbor walks in on them, Sachiko kills him violently.

When Yoji wakes up, he finds himself in a strange apartment.  The guy from the beginning is there with his daughter.  His daughter has one of the aliens on her neck.  The father explains that the aliens are parasites that use a host body to fight.  The winner literally eats the loser.  He explains about how the parasite can make the host feel all the pain and can even use the host’s memories.  How he knows this, I’m not sure.

The important thing here is that he’s breeding the things.  He infects Yoji with one so that the parasite will grow to maturity.  The father has been feeding the things to his daughter so that he can keep her alive.  Yoji is able to keep the parasite from taking full control, but still ends up killing the father.  He walks out in search of Sachiko, leaving the daughter alone.

What follows is about an hour of the weirdest fight scenes you’ve ever seen.  The parasites have the ability to ‘mutate organs’ into whatever they want, as the father put it.  Yoji ends up with an ‘enhanced’ hand covered in what looks like Styrofoam.  I should warn you that this is in no way a movie for children.  It’s not even a movie meant for most adults.

In one scene early on, a young boy is attacked and taken over by one of the aliens.  The boy is then hit and brutally killed by a car.  The car’s driver is then taken over by the alien.  You don’t see the actual impact, but you see a hand and part of the arm hit the ground as well as the shoes with feet and parts of the legs still in them.  In the scene where Sachiko is being taken over, the alien has a tentacle essentially rape her.  Again, you don’t see the actual penetration, but we get the moaning to let us know exactly what’s happening.

This is probably on par with the worst movies I’ve seen, at least in terms of production values.  We’re talking Abraxis: Guardian of the Universe/Future War bad.  The movie looks like it was shot on a home camcorder.  The acting was at least decent.  The actors are listed in other movies on IMDb, but not having seen many of the movies, I can’t say how good they are.  (Interestingly, Issei Takahashi, who played Yoji, was in the Japanese cast of Whisper of the Heart and Kill Bill, Volumes 1 and 2, all of which I liked.)

This is one of those cases where it’s hard to say where the movie went wrong.  More money probably would have helped the production values.  However, as with Abraxis, big names and some money aren’t necessarily the answer.  It’s possible to have the best talent, the best story and heaps of money and still not come out with a  good product.  At least with this movie, there is potential.  Clean up the writing a little and get a decent camera and you could have something.

Most of it is that the first twenty minutes are so hard to watch.  I think a lot of people watching this movie will shut it off before it gets interesting.  For those that make it, you do get hooked and keep watching.  By the time you get to the scene where Yoji is taken over, I actually wanted to see how it ended.  On that note, I spent the entire movie wondering where Meatball Machine came from.  (Having seen the ending, I’m still wondering.)

This is one of those movies I’m not sure if I can recommend.  I’m not giving it many stars, but that’s not to say it’s not worth watching.  I don’t know that I can recommend paying money for the movie unless you’re really in to bad movies.  I was able to watch this through Netflix’s Web site, which means that I didn’t have to wait for it to come in the mail or pay anything extra for it.  In fact, the only reason I found this movie was that I was looking through Netflix’s selection of movies I could stream to find something that hadn’t been reviewed on Epinions yet.  (I have two other selections bookmarked.)

If it comes on a movie channel (not a broadcast network) and you can watch it uncensored, go for it.  I think if they removed the adult aspect of it, it would take too much away from the movie.  Just make sure the kids aren’t around. 

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