Color, 1999, 91m. / Directed by Atsushi Muroga / Starring Nobuyuki Asano, Osamu Ebara / Unearthed/Ventura (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.66:1), Eastern Cult Cinema (UK R2 PAL), AFN (Germany R0 PAL) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9) / DD2.0

Considering how popular Italian gore films have been in Japan, it was only a matter of time before someone orchestrated an Asian homage to the films of Lucio Fulci and Bruno Mattei. And here it is in the form of Junk, a technically unimpressive but blood-soaked hybrid of Hell of the Living Dead, Zombie, and Zombi 3, with a dash of Romero's Dead trilogy and Lifeforce thrown in for good measure.

At a remote facility, a group of incompetent, English-speaking scientists are working on a chemical agent capable of resuscitating the dead (of course). Unfortunately their experiment goes awry, unleashing a naked zombie female with a taste for her creators' flesh. Meanwhile a quartet of self-absorbed thieves pull off a daring jewel heist and arrange to meet their pudgy, bleach-blond yakuza connection at the abandoned warehouse where, of course, the surviving scientists are trying to stop the zombie plague from spreading to nearby residents. As the body count mounts and more undead begin to shuffle around the premises, the survivors must resort to bullets and impalements as a means of survival.

From a technical standpoint-- well, from an artistic standpoint in general-- Junk is mostly subpar, with middling to godawful acting and lackluster, colorless cinematography. However, drive-in fans will be more interested in the rapid fire pacing and plentiful bloodshed, which often paints the walls during the frenetic climax. There's nothing terribly twisted or unusual about the violence, which splashes around loudly without accomplishing much in the way of innovation, but it gets the job done if you're looking for a painless way to pass a Saturday night with some friends.

Shot in what looks like a video process then either transferred to film or digitally filtered to give it a film look, Junk will probably never look like a million bucks. The anamorphic European DVDs have a slight edge over the flat American disc, which appears to be taken from the original, preexisting Japanese video master (complete with permanent Japanese subtitles during the English dialogue scenes). Otherwise it's optional English subtitles with Japanese dialogue all the way. Surround audio is fairly limited, mostly to gunshots and ambient music, though some good atmospheric mixing comes into play now and then, particularly the Fulci-style scenes of zombies rising from body bags on the floor and dining casually on one of their victims. The U.S. disc gains a moderate edge in terms of extras, thanks to the original trailer, a batch of other Unearthed previews, and a still gallery.

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