...And as our dearly disturbed festival comes to a close for the year, we catch up with the final Japanese director of The ABCs of Death, and Sushi Typhoon member Yudai Yamaguchi! His action-packed horror directing credits include: Deadball, Yakuza Weapon, Meatball Machine and Battlefield Baseball!
Having now seen The ABC's of Death, I must say I found Yamaguchi's to be exceptionally unique and entertaining -- I was actually laughing several hours later remembering the bizarre imagery.
MM: How did you get involved with doing a short for ABC's of Death?
YY: Participating in Sushi Typhoon was how I heard about the project. I wanted to join it so much because I was very honoured to be involved in the project with these top directors. I had a plan to shoot action with my sworn friend, Tak Sakaguchi, at the beginning, but I wanted to do something I had never done for such a rare opportunity.
What is your highest priority when making a film; to scare, shock, be original, or raise the bar for your competition? Without giving away the story, which approach can we expect in your ABC'S short?
First thing I think when I make movies is, "something that has impact," and, "something original." I have many adapted movies, but for me these must be original even though they are based on the original source material. I hate the most to make movies that are called, "Like something." I aimed to be original and simple for ABCs. Generally, the directors are all fired up with the feeling that they don't want to lose against others when it comes to omnibus films. I remember that I tried too much when I did other omnibus films in the past, But if there are only such films, people who watch would be tired-- especially with ABCs, which has 26 films--so people would be exhausted in the middle and it wouldn't resonate at all. My letter was "J," which is kind of the middle, so I had decided to do something simple and calm; But still with an impact. I made it with those points of view. And also, because there had never been a project like this before, with such diverse directors from all over the world participating, I thought that I'd like my film to be a reminding image of "Japan", so I did historical drama.
How would you define your specific styles of filming, and did you use your traditional approaches or decide to try something new for a foreign produced film?
I think my previous answer covers that.
Meatball Machine! …Tiny aliens invading human bodies and transforming them into epic bio-war machines. Where did this over-the-top idea come from?!
Originally the Meatball Machine project had started with my desire to direct Japanese robot anime or special effects super heroes with grotesque taste. So it was settled by borrowing the fundamental idea that a human goes inside of and control a huge robot, which is natural for Japanese robot anime. Even though Meatball Machine is a human size, it has the taste of robot anime such as Gundam. Also I got inspiration about the robots cooperating with the human body movement from the special effect drama Jumborg Ace.
When I first visited Tokyo, I saw several ads on TV for Tamami: The Baby's Curse, and was instantly intrigued by how staggeringly unique it was compared to any film commercial I've seen on TV over here. I made sure to see the movie before I left, and was amazed at how it rode the line between family sentiment and straight up horror. What were your goals with this project?
The author of Tamami, Sensei Kazuo Umezu, is a master of horror manga in Japan. But because horror manga didn't have a high position at that time, it had to be released as a girls comic. Later, after Mr. Umezu became famous from such manga as The Drifting Class Room, it was published as A Mansion of Grudge. Since it was written as a girls comic, it has a more heroic tone than is typical with horror. When making the movie, I wanted to make not only a horror movie with scary baby attacks, but also be true to the heroic part as in a girls comic.
When adapting Battlefield Baseball, how were your ideas different from the source material, and what kind of freedom did you have with Deadball?
The manga series Battlefield Baseball was cancelled before it was completed, so the story finishes in the middle. I wanted to complete the story. Also, I added the basic backbone to characters by, for example, adding a mother character for Jubei. I think the story got richer for that. But the original Battlefield Baseball was published in a young teen magazine, and had regulated limits for bloody scenes or human body dismemberment. So the first goal for Deadball was to make a movie in a limitation free environment. It came true to use the characters from Battlefield Baseball and Cromartie High School by getting permission from the original author.
One more chance to catch ABCs in Style:
THE ABCS OF DEATH
Sun., Sept. 16th, 9:00 PM SCOTIABANK 9