Zeiram [Zeiramu] (1991)

Keita Amemiya has directed some of the strangest films that have come out of Japan.  Which is saying quite a bit.

Zeiram is one of his best, although Cyber Ninja is by far the most totally insane film he made (the walking battle pagodas alone set it in a batty realm all its own).

On the surface, Zeiram seems almost traditional for this sort of film.  We have an unstoppable monster robot assassin, we have the lovely bounty hunter, Iria, we even have her sarcastic AI partner.  Even the two bumbling Earthmen, caught in the “zone” created as a battlefield for capturing Zeiram, are very familiar.

But it is the gonzo weirdness of the Zeiram unit itself that steals the show.  As it gets damaged, or unleashes new weapons, Zeiram is transformed, slowly revealing more of its hideous internal workings.

And hideous is the right word for it.  Ultimately, Zeiram is a horrible bio-mechanical warrior thing with a tiny kubuki mask face in the center of its forehead that can actually attack and devour its opponents.

There’s a great deal of humor, and the bumbling earthlings actually prove to be a real help – which is not so common for these films.

All in all, it has an amiable wackiness that remains constant throughout this quite entertaining film.  Hamlet it ain’t, but then…

Where are all the killer robot death machines in Shakespeare?

(movie available here.)

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