Featuring the concept of Japanese anus-worshipping redneck zombies incubating carnivorous mutant tapeworms, “Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead” is somehow worth only a few laughs. Cheap parasitic offshoot of Nikkatsu’s Sushi Typhoon series finds gore-effects specialist Yoshihiro Nishmura at his most slapdash, while helmer Noboru Iguchi doesn’t care to clean up the pic’s narrative and visual mess of repetitive fart and turd gags. Still, the title alone will help it worm its way into fantasy fests and Asian cult ancillary, to be seen by viewers who will need to be drunk or otherwise zombified to enjoy it.
Following in the footsteps of “Living Dead” conventions, “Zombie Ass” depicts four city-dwellers on a drive to the backwoods. To get over her sister Ai’s death, Megumi (Arisa Nakamura) has agreed to go on a camping trip with her nerdy admirer Naoi (Danny, of the band the 50 Kaitenz), her stereotypically slutty friend Aya (Mayu Sugano), and Aya’s butch but lecherous b.f. Tak (Kentaro Kishi). Aya’s real purpose is to fish for trout infested with “diet parasites” to help her attain a supermodel’s figure.
After gulping down the outsized tapeworms, Aya experiences seismic bowel tremors. A monstrous encounter in an outhouse is compounded by the fresh horror of an attack by a zombie horde dripping with dung while fanged tapeworms gnaw their way out of their nether regions. The unhappy campers uncover the cause of the town’s parasitic invasion when they take refuge at the clinic of Dr. Tanaka (Kentaro Shimazu) and his daughter Sachi (Yuki).
The idea of splicing the zombie genre with alien or creature horror has a scintilla of originality. However, since the action follows a robotic pattern of chase, fight, kill, chase some more, the generic-combination does not enliven the yarn in any dramatic or visual way. Nishimura, who directed the zombie film “Helldriver” in the Sushi Typhoon series, furnished all zombies there with flamboyant costumes and arresting facial details. Credited as character designer for “Zombie Ass,” he doesn’t expend a single brain cell on the makeup of the indistinguishable Undead. Rather the jaw-dropping imagination he demonstrated those earlier films is here reduced to brain-chomping tapeworms, which at their most sexually suggestive, wriggle and coil around half-naked femmes like horny hoses.
Moreover, in “Helldriver,” there’s at least a message on segregation that faintly echoes the social critique in Romero’s “Land of the Dead,” whereas “Zombie Ass” is subtext-free. While Aya’s desire to lose weight and Megumi’s chronic fear of farting in public (though a crucial plot point) could be seen as a reflection on Japanese fastidiousness about etiquette and beauty, it’s hard to take the ridiculous proceedings seriously. This leaves a film driven by little more than scatological, infantile humor, and a smuttiness that finds any excuse for closeups of distaff rear views.
Tech credits reflect a rough-and-ready attitude by Japanese standards. Sets are underlit, outdoor locations look arbitrarily chosen. The gore one usually finds in such genres is replaced by a liberal splattering of excrement, which doesn’t enhance visual aesthetics or the color palette. Special effects like yellow gusts of levitational farts amuse at first, but after a few refrains, a fart is a fart by any color.