Tennen Shojo Mahn Next (1999, Takashi Miike)

Thought I’d kick off SHOCKtober this year with Miike’s epic vampire TV- movie which I bought on DVD years ago but never actually watched. Bad move: either it was too stupid or I was not drunk enough to enjoy it properly. I think the problem is simply that it’s a giggling teenage sparkly-vampire flick and I am in my thirties.

Dig the shadow:

Opens with some guy who doesn’t matter getting his whole gang’s ass kicked by a teen girl in motorcycle gear – Riona, I think, who is friends with Mahn (Ayana Sakai of Battle Royale II and Devilman), I think. I didn’t take very good notes here, so I’ll omit the words “I think” (also “teen”) from now on, or else you’ll see them everywhere. Together they’re some kind of Teen Girl Squad who practice sweet fight moves, and maybe kill vampires. Not sure if vampires were a big deal before the scope of this movie, but presumably they fought something in Tennen Shojo Mahn, the previous chapter of this series. Both movies came out the same year as Audition and Dead or Alive and Silver and a couple others, so these didn’t exactly receive Miike’s full attention.

Mahn and Riona, I think:

Vampires have sparkly blood, of course, but they can walk in the daylight and go places they’re not invited and other stuff. Local hunk Yuya runs the city’s dreamiest fashion modeling agency (despite being nineteen) and is the public face of the vampire organization, while his buddy Kamio lurks moodily atop a skyscraper wishing for more power. Then there’s a winged “Saint Vampire” who controls them all from behind an Argentoesque red curtain.

Vamp boys:

Saint V:

Cheap cheap cheap looking movie. Reviews say it has amazing FX for television, but these reviewers have low expectations. The girls aren’t great actors either, but the fight scenes are surprisingly okay.

More intrigue: the girls’ friend Maki (who is big into donating blood – don’t ask) wants to be beautiful like top model Maria (played by porn star Shiori Fujitani), so gets bitten and joins the vamp club, immediately becoming a bitch to her former friends. Head vamp Yuya is a misogynist who is “taking revenge on all women”, though despite his big talk he kinda seems nice And Mahn meets a bullied young boy who happens to be Yuya’s little friend. She gives him a time-killing training montage set to some bland mid-tempo pop songs, teaching him not to be such a little wuss, while Yuya (who could’ve taught the kid himself) looks on disapprovingly. Everyone gets facile back-stories, including characters I won’t bother to mention. And this beardy preacher (Shingo Tsurumi of Freeze Me and Dead or Alive) shows up, embarrassing everyone whenever he’s on screen:

“Mahn, I wish I’d met you earlier… I might not have hated all women.”

Things Of Slight Interest: The word “vampire” isn’t spoken for the first hour. Kamio has a Dr. Claw-via-Minority Report virtual TV (below) that shows him what’s happening anywhere in the city. Only virgins can become vampires, so one girl’s dad tries (unsuccessfully and pathetically) to rape her in order to save her. And vampires are immune to garlic, crosses and sunlight but grow weak when they hear piano music. That one was never explained.

Turns out only the saints have eternal life. Girls become super beautiful and powerful when bitten, but only live 500 days after that, so Maria has an electric death scene on the beach. The girls decide to act, so their former friend won’t suffer the same fate. Then the grand vampire turns out to be the long-lost dad of one of the girls, or maybe of Taichi, I wasn’t paying attention. Some shit goes down and he dies easily, then Yuya stabs Kamio and himself and has a dull, protracted death scene

Maria on the beach:

Based on a comic, obviously, from the writer of Stop The Bitch Campaign, and adapted by the writer of Andromedia and (surprisingly) Visitor Q. So, not a killer Miike adaptation, but we do get a couple cool moments reminiscent of Big Bang Love: