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Ghost Master (2019) Review

Ghost Master (Gôsuto masutâ) begins as the set of “I Met an Angel”, the low-budget adaptation of a girl’s manga collapses into chaos. Caught in the middle of it all is the film’s assistant director Akira Kurosawa (Takahiro Miura, Attack on Titan Part 1). No, not the director of The Seven Samurai, this is a hapless idiot who thinks he’s the next Tobe Hooper. He’s even written the script that will launch his career, “Ghost Master”.

After finding out what the film’s director Atsushi Suzuki (Shin’ichi Shinohara, Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages) and producer (Tôru Tezuka, Shin Godzilla, Ichi the Killer) really think of him, Akira has a meltdown. He also manages to get blood on his script, unleashing the title demon on the real world. And, as demons tend to do, it begins to possess the cast, starting with the film’s star Yuya (Mizuki Itagaki, First Love Loss Time). Can Akira and the last surviving member of the cast Mana (Riko Narumi, How to Become Myself) put his creation back on the pages where it belongs?

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A Japanese horror-comedy set on the set of a horror film might bring One Cut of the Dead to mind, but Ghost Master is an entirely different kind of film. It’s much more in the style of The Evil Dead and even more so Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. Writer Ichirô Kusuno (Sushi Police, Tokyo Ghoul) and first-time director Paul Young (not the guy who sang “Every Time You Go Away”) deliver loads of outrageous splatstick gags as often as the budget allows.

Eyes bug out cartoon-style before exploding from the skull and taking flight. Heads are knocked off and explode in showers of blood, and headless bodies wield samurai swords. And as long as Ghost Master sticks to practical effects, it’s quite impressive. Unfortunately, several of the kills are “enhanced” with terrible CGI blood effects. Oddly enough, when used by itself, such as in a scene paying tribute to Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, or the Book of the Dead like thing the script transforms into, the CGI is actually quite good.

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Ghost Master’s sense of humour borders on the ridiculous. Of course, that’s the point it’s supposed to be over the top and outrageous. Somebody gets their head splattered across a blackboard, and the rest of the cast wants to take selfies in the midst of the carnage. A prop demon-killing sword that may or may not be the real thing. Some viewers may find one character’s plans for one of the corpses a little too outrageous, but I found the sequence funny.

There are a lot of gags tossed at the audience and the result is very hit-and-miss. How much you’ll like it depends on your taste in comedy. I did laugh a lot, but I also frequently found Ghost Master to be a bit too silly for my liking. I also freely admit a big part of the opening was lost on me. I have no clue when it comes to teen girl-oriented manga, so the spoofing of “I Met an Angel” didn’t do anything for me. Those more into anime and who get the jokes may find it funny, though.

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With the emphasis firmly on the film’s humour, Ghost Master is never really scary beyond the occasional jump scare. But it is an amusing and bloody send-up of the genre that should appeal to fans of The Evil Dead franchise as well as J Horror fans. Beer and like-minded friends should make it even more enjoyable.

Ghost Master will be available On Demand on July 13 from Indican Pictures. You can check their website for more details.

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