Biotherapy is a Japanese 1986 sci-fi horror that’s aptly described as a slasher merged into a splatter creature feature. The short movie was released as a project from the limited career of director Akihiro Kashima and it dismays me how we never had the opportunity for more of such fun productions – the splatterpunk scene of Japan never exploded as elsewhere (America’s slashers, Italy’s giallo, Hong Kong’s CAT III). Following the Japanese trend of monster horror films such as Gakidama and Guzoo in the 80’s, it ludicrously presents scientists being stalked and viciously slaughtered from a absurd alien in a trench coat, setting up half-hour of mayhem containing bountiful gore.
Mysterious in plot from the eagerness to initiate the carnage, where we only know the raucous extraterrestrial seeks the scientists’ GT medicine in development, and limited in character development from the meagre runtime, Biotherapy is more a demonstration of backroom filmmaking in the 80’s. It, nevertheless, succeeds with an incredibly fun monster design, a barebones excuse of a plot that’s tolerable, quirky kills with fun practical effects and acceptable set pieces to frame all these moments into gory entertainment – it is sincere in identity of being a budget Japanese splatter film in the inexorable boom of direct-to-video horror.
Awfully subtitled from no broader release, preserved only with the iconic grain of the VHS era and showcasing amateur SFX, Biotherapy is a charmingly nostalgic viewing of little mainstream appeal that’s somehow survived – a relic of a time when upcoming filmmaking would try to ambitiously anchor their career into a meaningful direction from low-key efforts (which horror rewarded in terms of budget-results). A video camera, energetic creativity and a high concept of a script were the only necessity for a short, fun film that’s abundant with adventurous sequences as this successfully supplies – explicit eye gouging, extreme disembowelment and enough blood to outdo the budget on cleaning bills.
Biotherapy is an easy cult classic that never achieved the length, experience and narrative development to properly actualize that – the director shortly ceased his career and the film, although open to be continued, froze as a snapshot of potential. As an easy short viewing, I would highly recommend this for anybody with an interest in the splatter film scene of Japan during the 80’s – the acting isn’t substandard and none of the scenarios are overly campy to be a laughable distraction. The film still being available is a miracle and it’s proof of the longstanding (albeit neglected) value to J-horror which was never confined to the atmospheric 2000’s golden era of Ringu to Ju-On.
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