Give Me My Money

Director: Junichi Numuri                 
Hiroki Taguchi, Hiroshi Ikeda, Ken Watari

Special guest review!

By Michael Sullivan

I'd like to clear up a misconception about Japanese culture. It's not just over the top sleazy anime, Godzilla, and commercials featuring American celebrities pushing products with ill-advised names (like a soda with the name Calpis). No, no, no, there's more to it than that. Why, there are TV shows featuring women breaking forks in half with their asses, great innovative products like Beauty Toilet, and off the wall films like Ah! Flower Cheerleaders, Violent Street, and Give Me My Money!

All three of the films above are extremely obscure but Flower Cheerleaders and Violent Street are both a little more known so let's shift the focus on the little talked about and pretty much forgotten GMMM!

Opening with a wild animated credits sequence that's accompanied by a catchy surf rock theme it's all revealed to be a comic book that's being read by Chad Everett(!?!) Chad notices the camera puts down the comic book and tells us, "Life is an unending hourglass of pain." He then goes on to tell us about three different people. The first is a murderess named Meiko (Hiroki Taguchi). We find out that before her father died, he requested that she wear an awful girly-looking dress complete with a pinafore, in order to keep her innocent. So in order to take out her frustration, Meiko is murdering men who resemble her father. The second is an unsuccessful gambler named Macki (Hiroshi Ikeda). The main reason the guy is so unsuccessful is because of his unnatural fear of bugs, which not only makes him hallucinate, but also makes him spray a can of bug spray every five minutes. The third person is Macki's brother Yoshi (Ken Watari), who's convinced he's Santa Claus.

The film cuts back to Chad who says, "Fate can kill a horse, rip a tree in two, and bring three people together." (I'm guessing that Chad's supposed to be the film's narrator, but after these short bits here, we never see or hear from him.) And so our story begins with Meiko tying a man in a chair and skinning him alive. As brutal as this sounds it's actually done so stylistically it seems as if it's an ad for detergent (albeit with more blood). In an incredibly contrived twist, the man that Meiko killed was actually Macki and Yoshi's father. Macki tracks her down and threatens to slit her throat, but just as he's about to kill her, he makes her an offer: "Help me rob banks or I kill you!" She accepts.

Macki's main idea behind the bank robberies is confusion. Pull anything strange enough in front of people, and they'll be too preoccupied to notice the actual robbery. For instance, Yoshi dropping ducks from the ceiling while Meiko tap dances and throws fire crackers, M & Y wearing giant paper mache masks, who start smashing their giant fakey heads together until the heads crack open and doves fly out, and my favorite, Yoshi dressing up like a silent film villain and tying Meiko up in velvet bank ropes while midgets in tuxedos and Frankenstein masks dance around them.

Not surprisingly all of this weirdness pays off and after numerous successful robberies the trio becomes increasingly cocky and we get to peek inside their subconsciousness. Meiko sees herself as Peter Pan and convinces Macki and Yoshi they can fly only to see them splatter on the pavement after tumbling off the roof (Meiko happily winks and gives a thumbs up after this.) Macki sees a swarm of insects all with Meiko's head, and then proceeds to smash them with a hairdryer(?), and Yoshi's disturbing combo of Christmas and sexual imagery.

But quicker than you can say comeuppance, their latest robbery goes from bad to worse. The diversion involving an unending stream of costumes is a failure and Macki hallucinates that everyone in the bank is a horsefly and frantically fires away at the customers. Soon the police swarm in on them and this is where the film's most ridiculous and jaw-dropping twist pops up....

******Spoiler Alert******

Just as the police are about to arrest the trio, the bank is stepped on by a giant bear/lizard who is duking it out with a Volkswagen. Yes, the film actually abandons the bank robbery plot, kills off all of its characters, and the remaining half hour of the film is a parody of Godzilla films and Herbie the Love Bug. To accurately describe this part of the movie would mean doubling the size of this review, so all I'll say is that it somehow manages to be even more off the wall than the first hour, if you can believe that.

******End of Spoiler Alert******

With the horrible dubbing, the Chad Everett appearance, and numerous references to American pop culture, it's not surprising to find out it was made specifically for American audiences. Unfortunately, no American distributor was crazy enough to pick this up, so it only played in some foreign markets, where it performed dismally and eventually disappeared.

This is one ridiculously disjointed film which seems like it was made that way on purpose. Full of weird moments like Meiko torturing a guy with a tape recording of his own heart, pointless close-ups of matches being lit, and a montage of their crimewave has a superimposed shot of them marching in place in majorette outfits. Satirical moments are awkwardly followed by dead serious moments of M & Y mourning the death of their father or Meiko's brutal slaying of a bank guard. Stupid, nonsensical, but never dull. This is the nadir of Japanese art film weirdness.

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See also: Godzilla VS King Ghidora, (Indian) Superman, The Star Wars Holiday Special