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.)
Are there any machine/human hybrids he'd like to do that he hasn't yet? First of all, Nishimura said he'd love to do a 3D tentacle porn movie, which sounds like a great idea to me. Then he said he's always thought it would be funny to have a character who is a flasher, but instead of a coat he would have a giant exoskeleton like a clamshell. When he opened up the exoskeleton to flash somebody, inside would be a woman's body!
Speaking of women's bodies, there are an awful lot of teenage girls in Nishimura's work. He's especially into girls who are self-cutters. The hero of Tokyo Gore Police is a self-cutter, and there is a gang of self-cutters in Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, too. Here's a great parody commercial from Tokyo Gore Police about self-cutting:
Why is Nishimura so fascinated by this aspect of teen girl culture? Partly, he says, "I'm making fun of teen girl culture and girls who want to be gangsters." But he also knows a lot of wrist-cutters in real life, and one of the star wrist cutters in Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, he assured me, "is a real wrist-cutter." He explained:
I think wrist cutting is cool. The people who do wrist cutting don't want to die. They are the people who want to live more than the others, and these cuts become a performance, a kind of theater.
So where do you go once you've celebrated wrist cutters, and filmed a girl eating another girl's face off? I mean, what's the next logical step? Nishimura says his next movie will be called Hell Driver. "It's a zombie movie, and there's a wrist cutter in it," he said. "Plus there's zombie nipple biting, and a car made entirely of zombies." I can't wait.
You can buy Nishimura's DVDs via FUNimation, or rent them at your favorite store.