Rubber’s Lover sets out to blow our minds the way Tetsuo: The Iron Man did, and while it doesn’t succeed as completely it’s still a trip worth taking. There’s slightly more dialogue than Tetsuo, and slightly more plot, but let’s face it — the real reason this movie exists is (in the words of William S. Burroughs) to blast, jolt and vibrate the senses. It’s also another prime example of the very small but incredibly energetic and creative cinematic underground in Japan, a close cousin to movies like Organ and Death Powder where minimal budgets were stretched to maximal effect. Lover uses grainy black-and-white 16mm photography, a few sparse but good-looking found locations, and some of the most over-the-top performances imaginable to wring the audience dry. It works.
Rubber’s Lover functions both as an underground horror movie and a jet-black satire on corporate-sponsored scientific experimentation, although the horror-movie side of the film is definitely the more successful of the two. Somewhere in Japan, a small group of scientists are on the company payroll to produce human subjects with psychic powers. The experimental subjects are shrouded in bondage-style rubber suits, juiced up with illegal drugs, and exposed to ear-shattering sonic bombardments. Those that don’t die or go insane develop superhuman abilities — that is, if they too don’t die almost immediately afterwards. The first scenes in the film feature the two lead researchers pushing the needle to “11” on their latest subject (read: victim), who vomits gallons of blood and dies in the tester’s chair.Read more
I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The director, Toshiaki Toyoda, was responsible for the good-to-excellent Blue Spring, which started off with a potentially stereotypical situation (unruly youth gangs in a high school) and ended with such a burst of real emotion that the film popped loose of its clichéd roots. 9 Souls is even better. This time around, Toyoda has a larger budget and a more complex cast of characters at his disposal, and he’s put together a movie that stands as being one of the best Japanese films of the last few years. Read more