Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Teenage Hooker Became A Killing Machine (2000)

From http://images.moviepostershop.com/teenage-hooker-became-killing-machine
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aka. Teenage Hooker Became A Killing Machine in Daehakroh
Director: Gee-woong Nam
Screenplay: Gee-woong Nam
Cast: So-yun Lee (as the Teenage Hooker), Dae-tong Kim (as The Teacher)



Synopsis: A schoolgirl prostitute (Lee) is caught having sex with a client against the wall of a woman's apartment. The woman's son, the schoolgirl's teacher (Kim) gets his three brothers to dispose of her gruesomely as punishment...only for a secret organisation to bring her back as a biomechanical assassin.



Teenage Hooker Became A Killing Machine is an eye-catching title but the results, only sixty minutes long, are a lot more unexpected than anyone could expect, especially from those hoping for a film like Noboru Iguchi's The Machine Girl (2008); while it belongs in the same camp as it, the result is far and away more confounding to sit through. I openly admit, years ago when the title catch my attention in a DVD review magazine and I went out of my way to see it, I absolutely hated this film to the point I held it up as one of the worst films I ever saw. This review is not a critical reappraisal on the grounds of, for example, Baise-moi (2000) for me - (a nihilistic and controversial film I once held as the worst film I'd seen but have come to reapprise drastically) - but amongst the garbage that circles the pan, of some of the worst material I've ever seen, this is so much more interesting even if it's a complete mess at points. It's been very rare for me to ever say a film is so bad it deserves to be on the grounds of a 1/10 on a rating system, which Teenage Hooker Became A Killing Machine was once, but in comparison to other rare films that I've marked that way it's a bar above so many average movies as well in being compellingly weird1.

From http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SvfVv-cslLk/Uh6NpxXR1NI/AAAAAAAAbBg/381xs2gkw80/s1600/
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The result revisiting it feels like an attempt to cross mutate an avant-garde film with lurid genre cinema, the sixty minute length both causing a great deal of the problems but also the more compelling aspects of the film especially in how director Gee-woong Nam emphasises and lengthens minor parts over major plotting. Having such a small space of time at hand should force one to be economic but this film takes a different attitude completely to this notion, deciding to have five minutes or so taken up by just the opening credits for example, the titular schoolgirl stood still in the middle of a Korean urban street as music plays. Immediately drastic tonal shifts are found where, after the serious presentation of the opening credits, the film starts with the female protagonist asking a potential client if he wants to pay for "voluntary date-rape", leading to (dry) humping against a wall where she's bored and texting on her phone mid-coitus. The film goes even further with going to an older female widow losing her mind hearing them having sex against her building wall, clearly meant to be humorous but quite disturbing in how she rants immediately into a phone in the middle of the night with a deranged tone to her voice.

From http://film.thedigitalfix.com/protectedimage.php?
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This introduces the viewer to the main antagonist, the putty faced and giant chin welding school teacher, who leads the schoolgirl to her demise but not before you get a prolonged few minutes of the two, when she asks for forgiveness by offering free sexual services, of them recreating a mating ritual animals do by swaying on the spot to non-diegetic music. To truncate this narrative description down, it's as the film goes along from here that the mix of styles the film has becomes incredibly chaotic - avant-garde pretensions, a lo-fi visual look comparable to Bill Viola's Hatsu-Yume (1982) in terms of lighting but shot in digital, an uber low budget movie tone with the slow pace and emphasis on dialogue and minor actions, and splat stick prosthetic effects driven content close to Japanese film company Sushi Typhoon. The result is unpredictable and leaves a viewer thrown between tones wildly, from a heartfelt and serious monologue, post-coitus and done directly to the camera, from the schoolgirl about her life and how she wants her newly conceived baby to grow up into a theatre actress to a bizarre gore scene in a bathroom where a foetus still attached by the umbilical cord is floating in the air. These tonal switches get further fudged by the brief inclusion of an assassin subplot with sci-fi trappings where the schoolgirl, now a biomechanical cyborg, has to kill a person in a restaurant. The further genre changing does pull the film fully into the lurid genre cinema of the aforementioned Sushi Typhoon films but the artistic leanings causes a stranger viewing experience as there's not enough time to cover all these plot points in great detail before the film reaches its climax. Especially as it leads to a genitalia gun appearing out of nowhere Gee-woong Nam's decision to keep the lo-fi artistic leanings becomes even stranger.

From http://i564.photobucket.com/albums/ss87/eddieyang888
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Technical Detail:
What was once an off-putting aspect of the film for me, the DV photography,  actually contributes a great deal to the film for me in how its muddy image appeals to a disdain for clean digital photography in films nowadays. The imperfect can have a beauty to it even if it's in the eye of the beholder,  and the lo-fi aesthetic sticks out for me on this viewing because of its murkiness and distorted colour lighting. Particularly with the shots in the open streets or an empty night road, it evokes the aforementioned Hatsu-Yume, an experimental film which shows Japan by way of a video camera which distorts the lighting and the colour, in how the failing image adds to the sense of environment that crisp photography might not do well with all the time. Even the moments of scenery consuming colour lighting adds to the distorted sense of reality the film has where everything is out-of-whack to suit the messy visual look.

The music is surprisingly strong as well and anyone who hates the film would still appreciate the choices immensely. The director has a good taste in classical music and remixes by the likes of Massive Attack, where even in scenes that might frustrate people, such as an opera singer inexplicably stood on a pier, masked by the bright white light in front of the camera above them, you still have good music being played that has a grandeur to it.

From http://mondoexploito.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/
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Abstract Rating (High/Medium/Low/None): Medium
The experience of Teenager Hooker Became A Killing Machine is an acquired taste, a lot of its strange tone ultimately failure in its original intentions as it creates a disjointed viewing experience in its combination of ideas. It's the blurring of the artistic and the lurid that causes a lot of this, with pretentions but slowly becoming more and more lurid without the grace of filmmakers like Takashi Miike to prevent the sides from jutting against each other; especially when your antagonists are a high pitched voice man with rubber putty all over his head and three strange brothers by his side, one calling himself a girl and their method of dismemberment being a comically large saw a magician would use for a magic show, the artistic aspirations clashes continually with these creative decisions. The result for me, getting used to the juxtapositions, does develop its own tone but it's not surprising some may find this even too weird for them.

Abstract Spectrum: Mindbender/Psychotronic/Weird
Abstract Tropes: Body Horror; Genre Blending; Prolonged Sequences of Nothingness; Prolonged Scenes of Dancing; Strange Eliptical Dialogue; Prosthetic Effects; Genitals as Weapon; Cyborgs; References to Other Films; Memorable Film Title

From http://i564.photobucket.com/albums/ss87/eddieyang888
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Personal Opinion:
A film like this and Ringu: Kanzen-ban (1995) - [Reviewed Here] -  does belong to the region of films covered on this site where their artistic qualities can be under question but honestly, after many of the films I've covered, do belong as some of the memorable entries on the blog for how strange and out-of-synch with other genre films they are.  Especially when cult cinema can be predictable and tedious in worse case scenarios, a film like Teenage Hooker Became A Killing Machine lives up to the notion of this type of cinema being unpredictable even if it's for an extremely tiny audience, most of which may gladly reply back like I would that the virtues as matched by incredible problems. As someone who originally hated this film I completely understand this fact fully.


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1For anyone curious, there's plenty of dreadful films I'd give a 2/10 or 3/10 but there are currently only five films with 1/10, a sign of how worthless they are even to exist let alone so bad to sit through. In reverse chronicle order -

1. Transmorphers: Fall of Man (Dir. Scott Wheeler, 2009) - Dreadful Asylum Pictures Ltd rip-off of Transformers.

2. 2012 Doomsday (Dir. Nick Everhart, 2008) - Dreadful Asylum rip-off of Roland Emmerich's 2012 (2009) which is actually a pedantic Christian apocalypse movie that shamefully tries to trick Christians into buying it as much as those wanting a film like 2012.

3. Death Tunnel (Dir. Philip Adrian Booth, 2005) - Bottom of the barrel horror movie sold on the actresses in skimpy underwear and nothing else.

4. Blood Thirsty (Dir. Jeff Frey, 1999) - Exceptionally low budget vampire drama film shot in someone's kitchen that was painful to sit through and offended me in how it dealt with self harm, the later tipping it over the edge into this category.

5. Spawn (Dir. Mark A.Z. Dippé, 1997) - The one mainstream film, so egregious a comic book adaptation even my taste for bad nineties pop culture gave up halfway through. Only redeemed by Melinda Clarke eating the scenery and wearing figure hugging leather.

Contrary to what some might say, the worst in cinema is usually tedious or life draining rather than so bad it's actually entertaining. The wobbling tombstones and wonky dialogue of Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) is actually a virtue to appreciate rather than to dismiss. There are plenty of films which I might dare revisit - A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1991) - if I am suicidal enough to see if they're 1/10 films like I had them originally, but even stuff that offends me usually has something of worth even in the most dire of consequences. I call 1/10 "Worthless" and I even feel like it's too cruel to damn a dreadful movie with the rating even if the viewing experience was awful.

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