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Genocide

Posted by martinteller on May 9, 2013

An American bomber is flying over Japan.  One of the crew members, Charlie (Chico Roland), is a drug addict who suddenly has an upsetting Vietnam flashback.  While the other crew members attend to him, the plane flies into a swarm of insects and loses control.  The crew bails out, along with the H-bomb they were carrying.  Meanwhile, on the island below, Joji (Yûsuke Kawazu) witnesses the event.  He’s supposed to be collecting bugs for the researcher Dr. Nagumo (Keisuke Sonoi).  Instead he was cheating on his wife Yukari (Emi Shindô) with the buxom blonde Annabelle (Kathy Horan).  He runs over to the area where the parachutes landed, he doesn’t find anyone but he picks up an American wristwatch.  After he tries to sell it, he gets arrested for the murder of the bomber crew, who were found dead in a cave.  Charlie is the only survivor, but he suffers from amnesia.  Joji calls on Nagumo to help him out.  Now Nagumo is trying to prove Joji’s innocence.  And Charlie is trying to remember.  And the U.S. military is looking for their bomb.  And so is a cadre of spies from the Eastern Bloc.  And… hey wait a minute… why were those insects flying around way up there?

This movie starts out confusing and plodding and gradually becomes confusing and utterly insane.  I don’t want to spoil anything, so let’s just say insects play a major role and the story goes to some really nutty places.  Director Kazui Nihonmatsu’s only other film was the weak The X from Outer Space, which also has a white woman threatening a Japanese couple.  But this has more in common with Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell.  Besides both featuring Horan, both were written by Susumu Takaku and both have strong anti-war messages and apocalyptic endings.  The last minute of this movie is super bleak, a real shock.

The acting is actually pretty good in this one, too.  As in Koreyoshi Kurahara’s The Warped Ones and Black Sun, Roland is the weak point, but I suppose in 1960’s Japan there was probably a scarcity of black actors to choose from.  The other performers, however, generally avoid getting too hammy.  Horan’s performance does get a little big, but it’s entirely appropriate for where her character goes.  It’s a little goofy that every American in the film speaks fluent Japanese, even when just talking to each other, but such things are easily forgiven.

I wish I could say more about the eccentricities of this movie but I don’t want to ruin the surprises for anyone.  As social commentary, it’s probably too all over the map to be effective, but it sure is a wild ride.  The ride should start sooner and the first 40-45 minutes are kind of a slog, but it’s worth sticking it through.  Rating: Good (72)

IMDb
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