The ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ genre is one which I feel is sorely under appreciated some of my favourite viewing experiences have been when I’ve watched films which are considered some of the worst ever made. Now it would be entirely pointless to argue that these films are anything above a cheap laugh, however, Dead Sushi offers itself as something of an anomaly in the genre. Beyond what is to the most part an absurd reworking of the zombie apocalypse genre, Dead Sushi not only makes fun of itself, but many Japanese & canonical horror films as well.
Dead Sushi is a difficult film to describe, it classes itself as a horror comedy, I’d go for a cross between Attack of the Killer Tomatoes & Jiro: Dreams of Sushi. The horror elements come in the form of the flying sushi hell bent on wiping out humanity, and the comedy elements come in the form of the flying sushi hell bent on wiping out humanity. There’s nudity (a lot of nudity), a sense of the ridiculous and a villain who can only be described as a fish-headed, axe-wielding, Japanese Frankenstein and who I can only presume is a disused Power Rangers monster.
However, beyond the more ridiculous aspects of the film there is a level of sophistication, for instance, there is a parody of a rather infamous scene from the Japanese Ramen Western Comedy, Tampopo. The Opening scene is a pastiche of martial art training montages used in every film to reference kung fu from The Karate Kid to Kill Bill. Arguably the whole film works as a parody of The Birds. The film can be enjoyed on multiple levels, but mostly it’s the way the comedy is practically continuous throughout.
I’m giving the film 4 stars when in fact I want to give it 5, the reason I am is because ultimately I think a lot of my enjoyment came from watching the film with an audience of likeminded viewers all revelling at a film with its tongue firmly in is cheek, as pretentious as that may be. If I were to watch this film on its own I think I’d laugh at its ridiculous and ironic elements, but come away with a far more lukewarm opinion.
Nonetheless, I feel that Dead Sushi can proudly rank itself amongst the likes of The Room and Samurai Cop – two cornerstones of the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ genre – as a film which I will watch intermittently with friends and pizza for years to come, ironically chortling the night away. Films such as Dead Sushi remind me that I love the breadth of cinema for very different reasons, some are like Shame which I admire for their ambition, others are like The Dark Knight Rises which I appreciate for their visceral scale and others are like Dead Sushi which I will love for their charm and absurdity.