For the length of time that zombie movies have been a part of horror, it is only natural that the subgenre would eventually go stale, occasionally requiring a total re-evaluation of the creature design to breathe new life into the genre. As with classics such as White Zombie (1932) becoming obsolete after George A. Romero released his now infamous Night of the Living Dead (1968) , which redefined what made the undead fear-inducing to a new generation of horror fans, Stacy revigorated the predictability of the subgenre. As time progressed, and these other ‘new-wave’ zombie films grew in popularity, the formula had consequently started to show fatigue again.
Enter Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies, a film not afraid to diverge from expectations and instead forge its own path into fairly uncharted territory to create a story still unrivalled in a unique vision to this day.
What Is It
Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies is a 2001 horror comedy, directed by well-known splatter director Naoyuki Tomomatsu who’s known for films such as Zombie Self Defence Force (2006), Maid-Droid (2008) and the notorious Reipu Zonbie: Lust of the Dead series. The story was an original novel written by Kenji Ohtsuki, with the screenplay adapted by Chisato Ogawara.
In the near future, the entire world is struck with a bizarre malady which affects every girl between the ages of 14 to 16 years old. Victims first experience a period of giddiness referred to as “Near Death Happiness” (“NDH”) before they expire. Within minutes of death, the victim rises again as a flesh-eating zombie – a “Stacy”. These Stacies run amok until they are cut up into pieces in an act called “Repeat-Kill”.
What Did I Like About It?
Containing a heavily defused cinematography, warm saturated colours and a soundtrack incomparable to anything else in the genre, the film maintains an ethereal, dream-like feel that encompasses the obscurity of the story well. This, mixed with the extreme violence and gore, leads to a feeling of somewhat of a beautiful nightmare.
Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombie manages to utilize the low budget effectively, using practical special effects when possible. The utter carnage on screen at times plays into the comedic side, teetering on a fine line of being impressive and cheesy in a perfect duality of action and dark humour. The usage of CGI is minimal, only being used when practical effects would not be viable to apply.
Natsuki Kato (Battle Royale 2: Requiem 2003) gives a great performance as Eiko and her decent into Near Death Happiness. Her near instant switch in her personality from somewhat grounded to a near hysterical disequilibrium can feel unnerving at times, adding a laver of sympathy to the character as she faces her impending death with an upbeat, positive attitude.
Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombie feels like a love letter to Western horror, with many nods to some of the greats in the genre such as Bruce Campbell and George A. Romero (just to name a few). To the credit of the production, these influences are used as fun references rather than a crutch to help shape the story.
The film has a host of interesting characters with their own separate sub-story, but by far the most entertaining are the members of the Charlie’s Angels inspired ‘Drew Illegal Repeat Kill Troops’. Three young girls perform the act of cutting Stacies into 165 pieces to fully stop the undead menace, in order to each raise one million yen before succumbing to NDH and turning into Stacies themselves. They are raising this money to be ‘Repeat Killed’ by Takashi Sorimachi, a famous singer/actor in real life. Ultimately, their performances are one of the highlights of the film and are a great addition to the story overall.
What Didn’t I Like About It?
The use of CG effects are minimal and effectively used, except for a few CG establishing shots. Being poorly animated and in contrast with the rest of the film, the feel ripped out of an early 90’s point and click adventure. Fortunately, these only appears one or two time throughout the entire film and are forgotten about as quickly as they appear.
I personally felt that the movie could of spent more time with the Drew Illegal Repeat Kill Troops and their story. In total, their screen time adds up to only 10 minutes. Their addition would have only benefited the story and, in turn, the comedy.
Considering the utterly unrealistic story (even for a zombie film), the entire film is played straight rather than becoming a parody of the genre and, therefore, itself. The films serious take on a whacky story has helped cement its place as both in the genre and as one of my favourites, being unlike anything I have come across before and have yet to since.
Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombie is a must watch for those who are in need of a new take on zombie films or anyone interested in low budget J-Horror. It is absolutely sure sure to get a few laughs out of everyone.