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LAST FRANKENSTEIN [Rasuto Furankenshutain] (1991).

I doubt that you'll find a more brain-fried movie in this entire issue. Or a more compelling one, for that matter. Just imagine if a young Cronenberg was hired to make a Frankenstein movie for Toho, and this would be the result. Directed and written by Takeshi Kawamura, it's cold, compelling, and laced with lovable absurdities... Told as an extended flashback, a professor explains the events leading up to a worldwide cataclysm. First off, the suicide rate has tripled, in large part due to a cult known as The Religion of Death, whose goal in life is to "praise God and kill ourselves." Running about in white face paint, screaming "Death! Death! Suicide is God!", they've even got high school kids offing themselves en masse in the middle of a sunny city park. Sarusawa, our professor, also has a teenage daughter named Mai, with telekinetic powers (such as floating in mid-air in the middle of a classroom). When scientists suspect that suicide is actually a disease that can be spread, Sarusawa begins worrying about his own future, since his wife killed herself five years ago. Heading into the wilderness, he tries to track down his only hope, the one-eyed Professor Aleo (a.k.a. Frankenstein), who was tossed out of the scientific community for his attempts to create a new breed of emotionless human. Unfortunately, the misanthropic Aleo is glad the human race is coming to an end. What else would you expect from a guy who considers his collection of abnormal fetuses his "best friends"? Living in the middle of nowhere, with only a hunchback (who runs about town, collecting naked corpses in his Volkswagen Bug), his crippled wife, plus a home-made male and female, ready for resurrection, all this wacko needs is the right psychic power source to bring them to life. Enter Mai, and the rest is history. But all of this is only a build-up for the really screwy portions, including various unnatural relationships, unearthed secrets, and even home movies of this bizarre extended family frolicking at the beach! Wow!... Somehow, this works on a number of different levels -- it's totally out of control, full of heady ideas concerning the evolution of society, and even has a few touching moments. Of course, this mindfuck will also send any normal moviegoer fleeing, especially when their li'l family begins to rip apart at the seams. Even more impressive than its hardcore Weirdness Factor is the elegance of the filmmaking. One look at its gorgeously composed imagery, and you realize that Kawamura, as well as his film, are true originals.

© 1997 by Steven Puchalski.