“Attack Girls’ Swim Team vs. the Undead” – A.J. Hakari

To infer that Attack Girls’ Swim Team vs. the Undead is silly would be an understatement of criminal proportions. No amount of hyperbole, no measure of ranting and raving, is enough to describe how flat-out strange this Japanese import is. I’ve heard of movies that throw in everything but the kitchen sink, but this flick does one better by throwing in an entire pool’s worth of crazy shenanigans. Of course, for all intents and purposes, it’s a terrible movie, but it’s also one of the few times I can honestly say I did not know what to expect next.

Aki (Sasa Handa) is a fetching young lass escaping a troubled past and starting life over at a new high school. Unfortunately, she’s hardly had time to settle into her new surroundings before all hell breaks loose. A vaccine meant to protect the student body from a new virus comes with a startling side effect — and by side effect, I mean all those inoculated are transformed into bloodthirsty zombies. Having skipped her shot, Aki is safe and sound, soon discovering that the school’s prized swim team has also escaped the infection. With the undead roaming throughout the halls, the girls take it upon themselves to whup some zombie ass and get to the bottom of the outbreak, whose origins hit a little too close to home for Aki.

If you’ve got a hankering for some low-budget cinema at its craziest, look no further than Attack Girls’ Swim Team vs. the Undead. Director Koji Kawano refuses to let something as trivial as a lack of finances topple his dreams of making one of the most insane movies anyone will ever see in their lives. Now, after having went through the stylishly-similar Akihabara Trilogy, I wasn’t about to let this flick pull a fast one on me. It’s obvious from the way it was filmed on digital video to the many lingering shots of buxom girls in form-fitting swimsuits that this movie was a softcore porno made on the cheap. The random sex scenes only further prove this, but it’s the little things that Kawano adds to the mix that make it weirdly fascinating. He knows he isn’t crafting high art here, and he knows that’s not what the audience is expecting either. Instead, he provides viewers with a flimsy little plot to legitimize the more titillating moments — a story that gets increasingly silly as it moves along.

When I said earlier that I had no idea what was going to happen in Attack Girls’ Swim Team vs. the Undead, I meant it. Just when I thought I’d had the movie pegged, it would reach into its demented bag of tricks and pull out something to boggle my mind. A good place to start is with how little the undead actually figure into the plot. After the initial zombie attack, they sort of disappear, as Aki and an alluring classmate drop what they’re doing in order to — ahem — get to know each other a little more. The more the story tries to explain itself, the more goofy and scattershot it gets, yet I never felt irritated. The movie’s schizophrenic nature added to its devil-may-care charm, fueled by Kawano’s desire to keep the viewer’s mind occupied even though absolutely nothing makes sense. What other movie goes from a schoolgirl doing battle with spiked swimming flippers to shooting a laser from an area lasers shouldn’t be placed? In any case, the flick always has you at full attention, which is more than I can say for a lot of current multiplex fodder.

Would I call Attack Girls’ Swim Team vs. the Undead a good movie? Hell no. The overall quality is pretty dim, the acting ranges from tolerable to terrible, and the “zombies” are little more than extras with Sharpie scribbled over their faces. But does the flick have charm, and is it absolutely fun to watch? I’d have to go with a resounding yes on both counts. I’m not a true believer of the “so bad, it’s good” philosophy, but in the case of Attack Girls’ Swim Team vs. the Undead, I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Rating: ★★★☆

-A.J. Hakari

Read more of A.J.’s reviews at ReelTalk Movie Reviews, Classic Movie Guide, and Terror Tube.

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