Film review by: Witney Seibold
Be sure the read the essay that comes enclosed with your video of Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s “Stacy.” It explains the Japanese concept of “moé.” Moé can be described as the passionate sexual obsession that adult males hold for the ultra-cute, non-existant fantasy schoolgirls often seen in manga and anime. It is moé that has grown men buying used underpants from vending machines. Watch some of the non-porn work of AV idol Sora Aoi, or Satoshi Kon’s brilliant anime “Perfect Blue” to get a more powerful illustration of this.
“Stacy” is a largely typical Japanese zombie film, but has a few unexpected twists, most notably that the zombies are returning from the dead not because they are wrathful or hungry or damned to roam the Earth, but because they are so full of love. That’s why they want to eat people: they love them so much.
In the future, beautiful teenage girls (usually aged 15 or 16), experience a weeks-long period of irrepressible blissful happiness (called NDH or Near-Death Happiness in the film), at the end of which they die for no discernable reason. They then sit back up as zombies, wanting to eat the flesh of the living, and can only be killed by cutting them into 164 separate pieces. Teenage girls the world over make pact with their families to be repeat-killed by someone they care about. For those who can’t kill their zombie daughters, the government has enlisted a new zombie-killing task force. Also around are illegal, underground zombie killers-fro-hire, also made up of teenage girls. The most popular tool for cuttin’ up zombies is a hand-mounted chainsaw cleverly named Bruce Campbell’s Right Hand 2.
The zombies are coated with a blue powder called, if I recall, Magic Butterfly Powder. The powder glows when they are experiencing true love. A puppeteer is enlisted by a cute schoolgirl to kill her. Her infectious happiness affects his work, and he begins writing a script about a glorious future where all men will have loving teenage lovers. A mad scientist does experiments on corpses, and a cutsey cadre of zombie fighters undermines the government’s efforts of do their own zombie-slaying.
The story is pretty dumb, and it jumps around so much it’s hard to tell what’s going on a lot of the time. Characters are given elaborate introductions, and are them abandoned. Critical character traits are hidden until the last minute, making people’s motivations frustratingly oblique for the length of the film. One actress plays two characters, although I was unclear as to the function of this. And, it turns out in the end, some of the zombies are psychically linked, or something. There is no purpose for this detail.
Most disturbing, though, it the film’s message. Teenage girls are so full of love, that they must eat the older men who love them. Projecting this intense love onto the teenage girl is a tactic I have heard used by real-life pedophiles trying to explain their obsession with underage girls. It is not base lust, but an intense, overwhelming love of beautiful young things that drives them. It’s kind of disturbing to see this thinking put into a movie so unfettered or uncensored. In the film’s epilogue, It is said, in dialogue, that eventually the teen girl zombies will stop attacking people, take lovers, and breed a new master race. The script our puppeteer friend wrote becomes the new Bible, and the world is now populated by happy older men with loving zombie sex slaves. This is presented as halcyon, bright, and utopian. If given any amount of thought, this ending is really icky.
I wonder if Tomomatsu is a pedophile himself. Perhaps. Perhaps the concept of moé is, in Japan, more of a cultural observation than a mode of thinking, and is not one espoused or condoned by the filmmaker. Perhaps I’m overthinking a cheesy zombie flick that was shot on the cheap (on video no less), and is clearly more interested in bizarre images like a girl in a bunny suit wielding a chainsaw.