Directed by Naoyuki Tomoatsu
Produced by Hiromitsu Suzuki & Naokatsu Ito
Written by Chisato Ogawara
Music by Tokustasu
Cast: Natsuki Kato, Toshinori Omi, Chika Hayashi & Shungiku Uchida
2001/80 mins/Color/Dolby 2.0 Surround
1.78:1 anamorphic/Japanese/Japan/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Synapse Films DVD
I recently learned that it costs $600 to get a telephone installed in one's home in Japan. So, I can only assume that instead of waiting around for someone to call them on the phone they can't afford, the Japanese are busy writing crazy movies such as STACY, a mind-bending new entry into the zombie genre which mixes art, gore, politics, and existentialism in a way that must be seen to be believed.
(WARNING: I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP!) STACY is set in the early twenty-first century, where teenage girls between the ages of 15-17 begin to die mysteriously. Before they die, they enter a state of manic joy known as Near Death Happiness (NDH). But, after they die, they return as zombies who crave human flesh. These zombies are known as a "Stacy". In order to deal with this epidemic, the government has created laws on how to deal with the Stacy problem. A Stacy can only be "repeat killed" (that is, killing something which is already dead) by a loved one, or else the Romero Repeat Kill (RRK) crew will do it for them. This is an armed group which patrols the streets, killing zombies. Also, a dead Stacy must be dismembered, and the government will pick up the remains.
The film features four interconnected stories which are set in this world. A puppet designer named Shibukawa (Toshinori Omi) meets a girl named Eiko (Natsuki Kato). Eiko knows that she will die soon and she asks Shibukawa to repeat kill her afterwards. A scientist named Dr. Inugami (Yasutaka Tsutsui) is studying the Stacy phenomenon in a former girls school (which is full of zombies) attempting to understand the plague. He is surrounded by a group of soldiers. A group of Stacy killers, made up of teenage girls who idolize Drew Barrymore (REMEMBER, I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP), hire themselves out to deal with the dead girls. And finally, a RRK group cleans out a neighborhood. As we watch the characters deal with the Stacy problem, we see how the epidemic has effected so many lives, and we see how each of these groups deal with the fact that the world is now full of gut-munching zombies who just happen to be wearing school-girl outfits.
STACY is everything that 28 DAYS LATER promised to be but could not deliver. Whereas Danny Boyle's film stole from every movie ever made and claimed to be something new, STACY is very upfront with its pop-culture references, but offers a very original story and experience. Any film in which chainsaws are referred to as "Bruce Campbell's Right Hand" is clearly being aimed at horror fans, but the movie has much more to offer. STACY is upfront about referencing Romero, but it doesn't share the world-wide apocalyptic view of his films. While we are told that the "Stacy" phenomenon is occurring everywhere, the film illutrates that the epidemic only effects certain people, and in a very special way. Although STACY is only 80-minutes long, it takes the time to set up its incredible premise and allows us to get to know the character. All of that, and it takes time out for an awesome puppet show...trust me. Director Naoyuki Tomomatsu gives the film a leisurely, but calculated pace and does a fine job of switching back and forth amongst the various storylines. He tells us about the plague at the opening, and then allows the details of the crisis to unfold, as the film builds to a Romero-esque zombie-thon at the end.
As mentioned above, STACY crosses many genre boundaries, but first and foremost, it's zombie film. Tomomatsu isn't shy about having the zombie-girls onscreen and the film is chock full of gore. It's been a long time since I've seen a film of the "Re-Animator" or "Dead/Alive" caliber of gore, but STACY delivers, as limbs are severed and spines are ripped from bodies. At times, the gore becomes ludicrous and over-the-top, but that's OK. But, as the film is based on a novel by Kenji Otsuki, it has many levels. For starters, there are the political aspects of the film. As the plague affects only teenaged females, it is easy to read this as a statement concerning the treatment of girls in patriarchical Asian societies. We see how the men in the RRK are torn over their jobs, but hey, it's a job. Incredibly, Tomomatsu has added a great deal of art and beauty to the film. STACY contains many dreamlike images that contrast with the stark reality of the death scenes. The ending is quite moving and the message of the film's finale is very haunting. The film's serious moments are further contrasted by the Drew Repeat Kill group, who appear to be spoofing Hong Kong films such as HEROIC TRIO. STACY is a welcome entry into the zombie genre, as it transcends simple gore with a great story and surreal imagery.
STACY shuffles onto DVD from Synapse Filims. The movie was shot on high-end video (I wish that I had more detailed information about the movie's production, but I don't). For this transfer, the iamge has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is clear, as the video product shows virually no grain, but there is a certain lack of sharpness in some shots. These shots displays some blurriness, and washout. Also, video noise is present at times. On the plus side, the colors look very good, and the overall clarity of the image helps add to the realism of some scenes. The framing appears to be accurate, as no information seems to be lost on the sides. The DVD contains a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound, and makes great use of stereo effects. The haunting and effective score by Tokusatsu sounds fantastic here, and really adds atmosphere to the film.
This DVD is light on extras, as it contains the trailer for STACY, letterboxed at 1.78:1, and liner notes by author Patrick Macias, who details the deeper meanings of the film and gives an overview of director Naoyuki Tomomatsu.
There's nothing better than sitting down with a film that you know nothing about and coming away pleasantly surprised. That was certainly the case with STACY. Don May and company have done a great service to horror fans by bringing this unique and poignant shocker to Region 1. If only they had included a little packet of Butterfly Twinkle Powder...
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©
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