While up in Montreal for the Fantasia International Film Festival, I made it a point to try and catch up with the imaginative mind of one of Japan’s low budget splatter film masters, Norboru Iguchi (RoboGeisha, The Machine Girl, Karate-Robo Zaborgar). One of his two films that screened at the festival was the world premiere of his latest zany endeavor, Dead Sushi, a wildly fun flick about sushi coming to life via a zombie-like virus and killing people (read my review here). The day after the world premiere, I had an opportunity to sit down with director Iguchi and star Rina Takeda to talk about some of the challenges, fighting fake sushi, weird kisses and their latest projects.
Alex: When you come up with ideas that are as crazy as yours, how do you determine if it’s something worth developing?
Noboru Iguchi: I’m always concerned about the budget. For Dead Sushi we didn’t have any money for the film and so I thought making films with a low budget was more impactful and I also wanted to make a film that nobody had seen before. Nobody had really made a movie about food attacking humans. Nobody had seen sushi and tempura, which is very popular all over the world, attacking humans so I thought this was a good idea to develop.
Alex: You two had worked together on Ancient Dogoo Girl, what made her [Rina] the perfect Kieko?
Noboru: Before she played a character that was strong and cool but she in reality she is actually a bright and cheerful girl and so I wanted to make sure she was playing a character that was closer to her real personality. Of all the roles she has done to date, Keiko is closest to her personality so I thought that would make her perfect for the role.
Alex: So then Rina, had you seen his other films before you said yes to Dead Sushi?
Rina Takeda: Ahh, yes. I saw Karate Robo Zaborgar,Machine Girl, and Ancient Dogoo Girl, the Japanese TV drama that Iguchi did which I saw after it was posted on YouTube.
Alex: Why did you say yes to this role?
Rina: I had worked with Iguchi before and was interested in his films. I also wanted to be challenged with a different character.
Alex: What was it like fighting flying sushi?
Rina: I was a little scared. More scared than fighting against the humans.
Alex: Did you ever imagine you would fight a giant Tuna and live to tell the tale?
Rina: Never, Never. No way.
Alex: So I have to ask about the special Japanese Kiss, the egg kiss [laughs]. Did you try it before you had Asami do it?
Noboru: Ahh, no, no, no. it was nothing like that! The image comes from director Juzo Itami’s film TAMPOPO, which is kind of famous overseas, since it’s a movie about gourmets. It starred actor Koji Yakusho. I originally used the scene in an indie film I directed which had two men doing the egg kiss, but I never did it myself.
Alex: In terms of making the film, one of my favorite scenes was the first fight scene where you have the naked guy on the ground and he’s getting spun around and Rina’s fighting everyone? Was that a tough scene to choreograph and did it take a long time to film that entire scene?
Noboru: It took 1 ½ days to shoot. You know, we shot this film in 10 days and we shot the fight scene in a day and a half so this scene took the most time. So because it took that long, the guy who was naked in the scene was naked for almost the entire time, so he felt embarrassed.
Alex: You’re [Rina] a karate champion and had a lot of cool fights in the movie, did you hurt a lot of people while you were shooting the film or were you very careful while you were fighting people? Were there any accidents?
Rina: We never felt in danger fighting on the set so there were no issues fighting with each other but it was so cold on set that we were more concerned with fighting the cold weather [laughs].
Noboru: The hardest scene was the final fight scenes at the end because we shot at 7 am and it was very cold and we were very sleepy [laughs] so it was really hard.
Alex: As a writer and director of these really, really crazy films do you have any limits or boundaries?
Noboru: My imagination has no limit and I’ve got even crazier ideas but I’m worried about finding someone who would produce it and if there is an audience for it. But no, there is no limit to my imagination.
This is a family movie not a crazy movie! [laughs]
Alex: Now for my last question, now that Dead Sushi has finally premiered what do you have next in the pipeline? What are your next films?
Iguchi: I joined the project ABC’s of Death and made a short film for it so we are just waiting for release. I’m really looking forward for everyone to see my segment in the film. I have another project that’s progressing right now and it’s a more normal girl and guy love story. At the same time I will be making crazy films and have another one in the works but we need to find a company that will finance it.
Rina: I will be in a film that’s being released next year where I play a countryside girl. I’m not doing any action in it so it’s going to be a normal human drama.
As you can tell both were really great sports and enjoy the types of films they are making. If you’ve never seen an Iguchi film before and are open to something different be sure to check out his stuff. It’ll blow your mind. As for Rina, be sure to keep an eye on her as her career begins to take off.