Electric Dragon 80,000 V is a beyond weird cinematic experience. It clocks in at a little under 55-minutes, so calling it a full-length movie may be a bit of an overstatement. Written and directed by Gakuryū Ishii (credited as Sogo Ishi, he has also directed Labyrinth of Dreams and Angel Dust), the Japanese film is visually similar to Tetsuo, the Iron Man but is more like an extended music video that collided with the visuals of a live-action anime or manga. Ishii used the leftover funds from Gojoe: Spirit War Chronicle to make Electric Dragon 80,000 V while recruiting Asano and Nagase who were the two main leads in Gojoe.
Having nothing else in common with Gojoe, Electric Dragon 80,000 V is absolutely its own beast. The film’s biggest strength is its cinematography. With Norimichi Kasamatsu (Korean filmmaker Lee Song-il’s 2013 remake of Unforgiven) as the film’s cinematographer, being entirely in black and white allows the visuals of the film to bleed off the screen. Some of the most unique shots are when Dragon Eye is playing guitar as the drastic lighting and creative perspective are just what you’d expect from someone taking all of their frustrations out on a guitar; incredibly angry and in your face. There’s a scene in the second half of the film where Thunderbolt Buddha has gotten Dragon Eye’s full attention and Dragon Eye is moving through rooms without moving himself. He appears to be floating from room to room and it allows you to realize how he’s feeling at that particular point in the film as if it’s all a bad dream.
The music may be what makes or breaks the film for the viewer as it tends to walk a thin line between catchy rock music to nothing but loud, distorted noise with screaming. The film is noisy in every sense of the word. Whenever Dragon Eye starts playing his guitar, it often just sounds like noise. It fits the tone of the film perfectly since it complements the concept of channeling 80,000 volts of electricity through a guitar. That would probably sound more like amplified noise than polished music. If you’re not a fan of loud, heavy music then it may affect your judgment of the film.
Electric Dragon 80,000 V is an unusual gray scale experiment, but it’s certainly innovative and unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. It’s not a remake and it’s not an adaptation. It’s an original film that stands on its own, but its radical plunge into such severe weirdness could be a turnoff for some viewers as its manga inspired influences flow excessively through every frame surrounding every sequence with boisterous and heavy guitar riffs; think like a shorter and black and white version of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World that somehow fused with the FLCL anime. This was discovered while digging through Tadanobu Asano’s filmography and if you’re fan of his stuff, then Electric Dragon 80,000 V comes highly recommended.
Electric Dragon 80,000 V isn’t available to stream anywhere, was never released on Blu-ray (this would be amazing in high definition), and the DVD is out of print. A high quality version of the DVD cover had to be pulled from eBay of all places since Google can’t seem to find one otherwise that isn’t tiny in size. The DVD is available on Amazon from third party sellers for $39.99 plus $3.99 shipping in new condition and $29.98 with free shipping in used condition. A pre-owned DVD is running $69.99 to $79.99 on eBay with free shipping. It does look like someone uploaded a 90-minute version of the film on YouTube with English subs and that looks to be the best way to see the film at the moment.
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Anyway, tossing that aside & taking account the design of the movie, I also found that the story was lackluster. I didn't find it too interesting or original. It just didn't grab me. I felt myself many times saying to myself that nothing special was going on. When they introduced the others from the Spider-Verse, I felt that some of them were a waste of space. Spider-Man Noir, played by Nicholas Cage, was funny but didn't do anything special. The Japanese girl with the robot, was utterly useless. If she wasn't in the film, it would be no different, except maybe to sell some toys. Now, I will say, I loved Spider-Ham, but I've been a fan of his since the 80s & still have all the original comic books. So, I am biased towards him. I would love to see him get his own movie, but I doubt he will.
Anyway, here's my bottom line. The movie was good. The style was great. Music was great. Characters were great. Story was meh. Animation was bad. After I watched the movie, I said, well that was pretty much a waste of time, but I'm not mad I watched. I just probably would never watch it again.
First things first, let me get the blowing the writer put of the way... Simon Barrett is a God amongst horror writers. He brings you to the edge, makes you think you know what's going on and then drives a stake through you beliefs like Van Helsing...
Your typical home invasion movie turns into a sinister and diabolical insurance scam that deflates the typical nature of this formerly typical plotline... I know, I'm saying typical alot...fuckin bite me.
Adam Wingard is an absolutely kick-ass director who I personally have watched grow in the genre, and who I have come to trust when it comes to picking a film out... Regardless of what people say, had Death Note not been a successful anime series before he took the helm of the movie, it would've been glorified as a work or horror/fantasy art.
Take your (that word again) typical upper class family, stick them in a deserted home for a family get together. Add another horror director, Ti West, and Wingard and Barrett's favorite actors... Joe Swanberg, A.J. Bowen and Amy Seimetz... Dash in some Australian hottie, Sharni Vinson. And add one of the most amazing Scream Queens to ever grace the screen, Barbara Crampton. And chuck in some relative nobodies for fodder and you have the ingredients for a wild ride.
You're Next appeals to me because home invasions happen. It has a reality to it that can be matched by 2008's The Strangers and a more recent addition, Hush.
This movie delivers on all fronts.
The Killers are a band of ex Marines who are contracted but an unlikely source to carry out the deaths of rich mom and dad.
The children in the family are the height of dysfunctional, thus proving money can't buy you sanity.
And the twist in this movie proves that secrets can be hidden well in a script if the proper distractions are in place.
One thing I'd like to add before I end this is the masks work by the Killers are straight creepy. Whoever thought to put them in those is genius. And they made for some great marketing posters and internet spots.
Simple flat white masks that have not scared me to death since I was a child and seen the iconic Michael Myers for the first time.
Barrett and Wingard make movies that are more reality based and that scare the bejesus out of you.
Check out A Horrible Way to Die if you don't believe me. It will not disappoint.