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Synapse Films presents
Stacy (2001)

"In the beginning of the 21st century, young girls aged 15 to 17 began dying, one after another, all over the world."
- narrator

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: September 03, 2003

Stars: Natsuki Kato, Toshinori Omi
Other Stars: Chika Hayashi, Shungiku Uchida, Yasutaka Tstusui
Director: Naoyuki Tomomatsu

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (chainsaws, graphic gore, extreme violence and girs in bunny outfits)
Run Time: 01h:20m:10s
Release Date: July 22, 2003
UPC: 654930302699
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+A-B+ B-

DVD Review

Here's a memorable bit of genre filmmaking that will unfortunately get lumped not just under the dime-a-dozen "zombie" category, but under the even more finite "Japanese zombie" header. That's a damn shame, because Naoyuki Tomomatsu's Stacy, released here under the caring hand of Synapse Films' Asian Cult Cinema Collection, is a funny, and surprisingly sweet story that, though layered in mounds of ropy intestines and severed heads, remains one of the most refreshing entries in the genre since The Return Of The Living Dead. And that, my undead-loving friend, is truly high praise.

Stacy takes place in early 21st century Japan, and as we learn during the expository opening narration, schoolgirls aged 15 to 17 have been suddenly dropping dead all over the world, after experiencing a weird case of unstoppable giddiness known as NDH, or Near Death Happiness. To make matters worse, each dead girl comes right back to life as a tongue-waggling, flesh-eating zombie, known worldwide for some reason or another as a "Stacy". The only way to stop a Stacy is to "repeat kill" it, which is fancy talk for cutting up said zombie into 165 pieces, and government-sanctioned teams of repeat kill squads, slyly dubbed Romero Troops, are relegated to do the gory dirty work in case the dead girl's family isn't up to the unpleasant task.

"Kill your own daughters. We'll take care of our own." - public service announcement

Naoyuki Tomomatsu alternates his story between the weirdly sweet relationship between Shibukawa (Toshinori Omi), a middle-aged puppeteer, and Eiko (adorable, giggly Natsuki Kato), a soon-to-be-Stacy in the throes of NDH who needs to find someone that cares for her to repeat kill her when the time comes, and a remote former art school-turned-secret-research-lab where a crazed scientist is doing gory experiments on a legion of captive, ravenous Stacies to uncover what makes them tick. It is his eventual discovery, amidst all of the blood and guts, that propels Tomomatsu's film into its bizarre (for a zombie flick, that is) final moments.

The budding relationship between schoolgirl Eiko and the much older Shibukawa is like a respite between the gore, though we know it is coming for them too, and when the puppeteer performs the simple story of Mittens the cat, there is more than a wee bit of foreshadowing thrown in. This semi-serious storyline, as serious as you can get in a film with flesh-eating teenage girls and dumpsters full of severed limbs, is wedged in between the gore at the research lab and the comic antics of a renegade Charlie's Angels-like repeat kill team of three pre-NDH schoolgirls infatuated with Drew Barrymore.

The humor in Stacy is dark, nearly subversive at times, at least until the almost sentimental climax when you might find yourself with the need to dab a tear away, and is chock full of quite a few genre in-jokes, like the infomercial for the new and improved Bruce Campbell's Right Hand 2 Chainsaw (available in three designer colors). Naoyuki Tomomatsu paints his film like a comic book, and the gory action unfolds in a sea of bright colors and the frenetic staging of a twisted graphic novel.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Tomomatsu shot Stacy on digital video, and the end result is a vivid, beautiful looking 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Don May, Jr. and Synapse. Image detail is sharp, with no apparent compression artifacts to detract from the presentation. The gallons of arterial blood are bright red, fleshtones are lifelike, and black levels are rock solid.

This is a gorgeous looking transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japaneseno

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 stereo original language Japanese audio track has more depth than a lot of surround mixes I've heard, and while I didn't rely on it to decipher dialogue, the Tokosatsu score (with its blend of lilting acoustic passages and bizarre techno rhythms) sounds especially excellent. Clean, strong and well-built.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Not a wealth of extras outside of a Japanese-language theatrical trailer, but there is an informative two-page insert booklet, written by TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion author Patrick Macias.

The disc is cut into 14 chapters, and includes optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Be warned that this is a very, very gory film, but if you can stomach the gratuitous bloody excess, you'll be rewarded with a truly odd and, dare I say, touching zombie film.

Highly recommended.


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