Star: Dr. Cube, Silver Potato, Los Plantanos, Sky Deviller
Mayhem in the Atrium III
Firstly, don’t worry if you’ve not seen I or II, this will not in any way impact on your enjoyment of III – but this may not be the best place to start your appreciation of the weirdness which is Kaiju. For a detailed explanation, and an interview with Kaiju commercial priest David Borden, you’re referred to TC23, but in five words: WWF meets Japanese monster movies. Yes, it’s guys in outlandish home-made costumes, fighting each other in wrestling bouts time. Can’t help feeling that there’s something been lost in the latest release from the House of Kaiju.
Previously, the sense of wacky and weird pop culture was paramount, with spoof adverts and amusing intertitles that provided entertainment over and above that of seeing cardboard buildings get trampled underfoot. In MitA 3, the wrestling seems to be the focus, with lead heel Dr. Cube taking over the federation, amid the usual kind of shennanigans you get on any edition of RAW is WAR. Admittedly, for at least one fabulous bout, the quality there is up to the standards of the late, lamented ECW promotion, with tables, garbage cans and a balcony all used to good effect. But novices would be better served by going with Kaiju Big Battel: Best Fights for an authentic taste of insanity.
If you want to settle the argument over which is better, soup or sandwich, this DVD provides the answer: in the opening fight, a sandwich, armed with a club (work it out…), takes on a can of chicken noodle soup. Only in Kaiju – yes, they’re back, world domination continuing apace. If you’ve not been infected, this is a good place to start, even if little can prepare you for the experience – a case of 151-proof rum might help though. Imagine professional wrestling populated by space aliens, hideous genetic mutants and comic-book superheroes, battling for the coveted title of Kaiju champion, in a universe that lurks just beneath the surface of our own existence.
Particular highlights: an arm-removal of a quality not seen since Holy Grail; a delightful Japanese pop song, Peel Me Now, complete with subtitled lyrics which rival the real thing for near-gibberish; and one participant giving birth during the show, leading to a Jerry Springer-like paternity brawl. Add bizarre adverts that may or may not be for real products (it’s sometimes unclear), and the end product is likely the maddest DVD you’ll see this year. Or, indeed, this decade. And that’s not even counting the badge, pamphlets and fridge magnets included in the package.
Perhaps the coolest step up from previous Kaiju tapes seen is the addition of digital effects to the blows, which really enhances the fights enormously. On the downside, it barely lasts 50 minutes, including seven minutes of (admittedly often amusing) end credits; probably under half the remainder is actual ring footage. Announcer Louden Noxious does live up to his name, though largely redeemed himself on our couch, by pointing out, with admirable impartiality, when one bout became less than enthralling. But in a world where the line between madness and normality seems ever thinner, Kaiju may be humanity’s last, best hope. Buy this, before your city falls victim to the evil Dr. Cube.
There’s a point about twenty minutes into this, where it all starts to make perfect sense. Really. Of course the world is in peril from size-changing monsters who battle it out for domination, not to mention disfigured evil scientists, while our best hope for survival remains a heroic tuber and his friends. That’s why we invaded Iraq, folks. Actually, there’s no such political satire here: Kaiju is not about such things, it’s about…er, well…not political satire, anyway. Regardless, this DVD is a great point to start for the uninitiated, since it opens with What is Kaiju?, describing the scenario and main players far better than I could. This, alone, is worth the purchase price, for its lethally straight-faced tone.
But, wait! There’s more! The Neo Teppen show is a spot-on parody of those suited Japanese superhero shows…except it may not be a parody – as with all things Kaiju, it’s almost impossible to tell. The middle third is handed over to the villainous Dr. Cube, who mercilessly skewers his nemesis, Silver Potato, even hijacking our hero’s theme song; does his evil know no limits? It all ends, as you’d expect, in a pitched battle in the Scottish Highlands. I’m sorry, did I say, “as you’d expect”? Nothing on this DVD is predictable; if you did expect it, I guess you also predicted the cleaved sheep.
That end segment is perhaps the weakest, going on too long and drifting off the core storyline. Indeed, given Kaiju’s origins (see their previous releases), there’s precious little actual wrestling action to be found here. You get clips here and there, and a couple of fights in the bonus features, but it seems more a sidelight than the main attraction. Going from what’s shown, that’s a pity: doing a moonsault off the top of a steel cage, while dressed in a monster suit, can only be admired. Still, this remains daft nonsense taken to the extreme – there’s more imagination here than a dozen “normal” films and, without a shadow of a doubt, it’s equally entertaining.