Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2001)

The Meat of Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2001): There's not enough room in the city for both an Electric Dragon and a Thunderbolt Buddha! There can be only one! *CRACKLE* *ZAP* 

Lady Terminator's Special Guest: Author Jamie Grefe! All you have to do is take one look at the badass cover of Jamie's newest release to know you're in for a smutty slaughterfest!

Available Here!

I'm a huge exploitation fan and I absolute loved Domo ArigaDIE!!! You can check out more of my thoughts on it over on Goodreads.

If you're diggin' the vibe, be sure to head on over to Jamie's blog for 30 Days of Curated Domo ArigaDIE!!!

And now here's Jamie with 5 things he loves about Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2001). As always, be forewarned. Mild spoilers may lurk ahead!

I blame my lack of inner stillness on those foreign films I used to rent from the library. I lived alone. That was when the library still carried VHS. Undusted shelves packed with plastic stories, mysteries to be pondered. Wong Kar-Wai’s Fallen Angels. Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Fellini. Even Godard and his crashed cars. But Sogo Ishii’s Angel Dust was the one film that seeped over: the needle pricks, packed trains of silence, the psychic powers, bodies, the horror within. It was all so quiet. And Angel Dust injected a seed in my cranium. Once I began my Japanese language studies, I suffered to decipher that foreign code without subtitles, each time more baffled than the last. Each time richer. And then I got lucky. 

I took a flight to Osaka in 2001 to stay with a friend. Eventually, we made our way up to Saitama, took the train to Tokyo to sightsee city lights. I had other, more "electric," plans in mind. Somehow, I had caught wind of an intimate movie theater called Uplink X in Shibuya. The day we were in Tokyo it happened to be playing a tremendous film called Electric Dragon 80,000V directed by the same mind-warper who did Angel Dust. Of course, we bought tickets and lived that film.  

My friend was pummeled by a wicked dizzy spell when the film finished. I had forgotten that a film could do that to a person. Films can overwhelm. She was nauseous from the voluminous roar. Electric Dragon 80,000V is no ordinary film. In my world, it is immense.  

This film is a heavy metal punch.

This film is string-scraping feedback.

This film is lightning lizards.

This film is skin turning reptile. 

This cinematic experience is a study in how to shiver with electric fever, wanting more. Whereas Ishii's Angel Dust is a study in restrained, quiet psychological horror, Electric Dragon plays out as a blast of violent intensity, volume, volume, smashingly loud reptilian volume. 


Shibuya’s Uplink X had cranked the volume up to maximum level for this movie. The sound was as loud as a scrap metal concert melting your skull or the sound when you stick your head inside a tractor. I should have brought earplugs to squelch the blood. It hurt. I felt like I was being ear-drilled for an hour. And I paid money for that revelation. I’d like to think the barrage of volume was purposeful. It certainly accounted for my friend’s physical discomfort (an expulsion of the dragon) after the film. And the sound in this film is a gorgeous monster.

From the crackling power lines... the squeal of “Dragon Eye” Morrison’s guitar...

...and how his pet dragon slurps up fresh bugs in juicy slurp swallows...

...crisply satisfying. 

Everything flows. Dub. Bass. Noise arcing. Jungle. Humming. City drone. And a punch to the jaw explodes a face. 


They tried to control his rage. They tried to suppress the rumbling darkness of excess. Even as a boxer, Morrison was too much. This is a character with more psychophysical power than his soul knows how to handle. Tadanobu Asano, maestro thespian. He plays the part perfectly. He’s a poisonous cobra, an actor in possession of the powers of transfiguration. 

I idolized Asano for years, mainly due to his role in this film. I found myself searching to slay my own dragons across four countries. Maybe I’m still searching. Maybe my eyes haven’t yet clouded over, become fully human. 

Not that I haven’t tried to summon that great beast out of the breast of who I would like to be, but I don’t own a guitar anymore. I left my Dan Electro baritone in Shinjuku. I hope a dragon shreds it to bits, breaks it, stills the strings to sing, destroyed by concrete and neon. By electric death. 


I am frightened by characters who wear masks, but characters who wear half-masks are the best. And this mask, this Buddha (has to be golden, right? Silver, maybe?) is too good to not talk about. A ghost in daylight afloat on the streets. 

The listener. And that scene on the rooftop where Thunderbolt is spying on the yakuza's sleazy phone conversation, wearing his electrician’s uniform, electronic gear laid out, signals buzzing, static and crackles abound, that scene made me want to devote my wasted life to the allure of the current. 

It’s like he can’t not be plugged in to something greater than himself. His obsession. The quest for Truth. For what's right. He’s the grid, embodied, the transient source, a villain of corrupt enlightenment, cloaked in Tokyo. 


Director Ishii's wonderland supreme. And it gets better once you’re there. Seeing this film (a film as much about the electric waves of Tokyo as it is about reptilian journeys) within the maze of that city, as, at that time, a traveler in the city, makes my memory of this film all the more sharpened. 

Yes, it’s a cinematized representation of the labyrinth, but what a wonderful representation it turned out to be. The prominence of the artificial, the convenient. The contrast between the city’s quiet nature and the harsh blasts of noise that rise up out of its depths (high above in a grungy apartment or a rooftop) and the music. At night. A violin on the street. Tokyo is a city of hidden music. I fell in love at an impressionable age with the music of the Japanese language, a music that blended into Japanese music and how a city itself is able to light ideas within a person. And how better to show that idea than through the gaze of a Thunderbolt Buddha and an Electric Dragon? Some have said that Tokyo is a wistful blend of traditional and modern, but this film escalates that idea to a mixture of the Ancient and the Transcendent. This film is not a moment of Zen. 

It’s an electric chair of passion. 


And repression building. And shards. The psychophysical sessions where “Dragon Eye” Morrison straps himself to that table and electrocutes himself, those sessions are the image of a man attempting to cure himself of his inner (or ancient) dragons. He channels the dragons through the harsh noise he makes on his guitar. 

The noise consumes him, diminishes his own monster. The only thing that keeps our warrior calm is gazing at his real-life pet dragons, his own inner dragons, externalized, perhaps? We can find him searching the city. As we all are. And Thunderbolt Buddha suffers greatly in the opposite direction, unable to control the surge of his own electric curse. Yes, at times, he is able to direct it, but ultimately, I think it is a tumult inside him surging to erupt. And when these two giants collide, it’s mayhem blossoming, the purest kind of violent becoming we can hope to experience. It scathes. It roars. It has the potential to heal.

What does Lady Terminator think?   

Oh, man. Electric Dragon 80.000 V wasn't even on my radar until Jamie chose it for this blog post. And boy is it a beauty! You'll probably dig this if you're a fan of Tetsuo, the Iron Man (1989).

 The Final Tallies?

What we learned today:

1. Jamie Grefe has awesome taste in movies. He writes cool shit. You should keep an eye on his blog so you don't miss anything and be sure to check out some of his work!

2. Electric Dragon 80.000 V is more than just a film. It's an experience. One that starts in your eyes...your ears...and ends in your reptile brain. Lady T recommends it!

Until next time...

Electric Kisses,
Lady Terminator AKA Erika Instead

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