“Mobsters, Monsters, and Swords!”

CEAS’s spring quarter Friday Noon Film series provides Japanese B-movie bliss.

By Hayley Lamberson

Now that Doc’s “42nd Street Forever” Thursday night grindhouse-fest is over, I’ve felt that there’s a severe dearth of cheesy dialogue and blatantly staged fight scenes in my life. Luckily, today I stumbled upon this gem: The Center for East Asian Studies screens a 1970’s Japanese horror film every Friday at noon in Wiebolt 301 as part of their “Mobsters, Monsters, and Swords!” spring quarter film series. You can even bring your lunch, which, frankly, is an improvement over Doc. (Of course, Doc’s no eating policiy is understandable.) Before each screening, a Ph.D. student explains the film’s background and cultural importance.

This Friday, they’ll be showing Evil of Dracula (1974): “A young teacher arrives at an all-girls school in Japan where he flirts with the students and teaches them about the history of psychoanalysis. No, it isn’t a promotional video for the JET program; it’s one of the Hammer-inspired vampire films Toho produced during the early nineteen seventies. ‘Evil of Dracula’ (which was the final film of the Toho cycle) is something of a loose remake of the Hammer film ‘Lust for a Vampire,’ borrowing the moody production design and emphasis on sexual titillation from its British predecessor. What sets the Toho series apart from their Hammer ancestors is their explanation of vampirism, which is one of the most unusual of all vampire cinemas.”

Next week they’ll have The Mysterians (1957): “Strange aliens have come to Japan in order to ask for the right to marry Earth women in order to prolong their race. However, when things turn sour Earth’s only defense is an alliance between Japan and America and the new weapons they can create together. Like ‘Godzilla’ before it, ‘The Mysterians’ uses the science fiction film as a platform for addressing fears about the misuse of technology and nuclear annihilation. However, underneath that attempted message is a confused attitude toward military hardware, which the filmmakers lovingly display in numerous special effects sequences. A colorful mix of disaster film, monster mash and special effects extravaganza, ‘The Mysterians’ is one of the key moments in the history of Japanese science fiction cinema.”

For more information and a full calendar, go to the “Mobsters, Monsters, and Swords!” website.