Cult director Yoshihiro Nishimura has been making eyeballs bleed for almost two decades, creating disgustingly funny effects for movies like Machine Girl, and directing cult classic Tokyo Gore Police. We talked to him about his latest projects and ongoing obsessions.
I met up with Nishimura in a back stairway of the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con, where we sat on the concrete floor and talked about pornography and gore movies - which often led to our translator bursting into giggles, or trying to find the nicest possible way to translate "zombie nipple biting." Nishimura's films, along with those of other Japanese cult filmmakers like Noboru Iguchi (a Nishimura collaborator), are now available on DVD in the U.S. via FUNimation, and his latest film to hit Western shores is Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. You can see a clip from the opening scene in the film above, which captures the goofy blend of teen girl cuteness and gore that made this film an instant cult sensation.
Nishimura said that his films are more popular in America than Japan. "My movies are straight-to-DVD in Japan, except for Mutant Girl Squad," he said. "My fans in Japan are quieter than the ones in the United States, but they're basically the same kinds of people. It's just that in Japan, they don't have a way to express their feelings - they're too shy."
Though Nishimura is known for writing and directing, he started his career as a special effects artist. He's especially interested in depicting the grotesque extremes of the human body, and the ways that humans and machines can merge into each other. I asked how he decides how to transform his actors into machine/human hybrids. "I start with what kind of character I want," he said. "And then I choose the actors and decide how they will transform." Grinning, he asked if I'd like to know how he'd turn me into a machine. Of course I did! He gave me an appraising look, and decided to focus on my face. "I'd take something from your nose - your nose ring," he said. "Then I would make your nose really long, and your glasses too. Your glasses would allow you to see really far, like telescopes." Then, as an afterthought, "You could also use them to burn your enemies." (You can see some of Nishimura's special effects in a NSFW clip from Meatball Machine, here.)