In Fantastic Fest’s famous secret screenings, the identity of the movie being shown isn’t revealed until it’s about to begin. While it’s a gamble, it’s one that prompts devotees to line up for year-in-advance VIP badges — past secret screenings have included the first-ever looks at “There Will Be Blood,” “Apocalypto” and other high profile premieres, But, as festival head/impresario Tim League remarked in his intro, this year’s first secret screening, of Noboru Iguchi’s “RoboGeisha,” was “perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets in Fantastic Fest history.” After the film appeared and disappeared from the schedule in past weeks, he told the crowd that thanks to contractual limitations, “We’re not going to call this a world premiere, but a premiere of some sort where nobody else has seen it.”
Marc Walkow of the New York Asian Film Festival lamented that “RoboGeisha” wasn’t finished in time for his own festival. They made do by showing the trailer, which needs to be seen to be believed (and can be, below).
The film defies description, with a story about two sisters recruited by a steel corporation to become, yes, robotic assassins/courtesans. Gags revolving around death by shabu shabu, villains called tengu girls (armed with phallic-shaped masks and weaponry), and plenty of anal-related humor involving ninja stars and bullets. (One of the characters coos, “When I strike a sexy pose, swords come out.”) In fact, when called to the stage, director Iguchi (“Machine Girl”) cobbled together the sentence “I like ass!” out of his limited English vocabulary with rare conviction.
However, the film paled in comparison to the aftershow, where League, Iguchi, “Tokyo Gore Police” director Yoshihiro Nishimura (who would be showing his latest “Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl” later the same night), Walkow and the tengu girls returned to the stage “for a very special Q&A involving butts and things going into butts.” Dressed in sumo diapers, the pack pranced around the Alamo Drafthouse in next to nothing and took questions from the audience between good-natured bouts of grabass and the tengu girls administering needles to all of the men’s bare buttocks. When one audience member asked why Japan is so strange, Iguchi replied, “Thailand is also up there,” though surely Austin would be included on this night. (Feel free to suggest captions for the second picture in the comments below.)
[Top photo: Yoshihiro Nishimura, Noboru Iguchi, Tim League, Marc Walkow and guest]