By Matthew Nygren
CALGARY – Sôichi Umezawa has made himself a career in special makeup effects, and his directorial debut is a chance for him to showcase that skill with a unique premise: a blood-thirsty clay monster.
Set at a small, rural Japanese art school, the story is centered on a handful of students who are eagerly learning how to sculpt. When their instructor uncovers a mysterious box of clay that had been buried in the yard, she brings it into the classroom for the students. The clay soon proves to be quite abnormal as it begins to move by itself when no one is looking, and it seems to have a malicious intent to harm the students. Once it is able to absorb a few drops of blood, its hunger and power grows, and it becomes strong enough to murder.
Seeing this clay monster in action is quite a spectacle. Just by touching its victims it can mutate and absorb their flesh into its own muddy, blob-like body. Once a student gets devoured into its gaping mouth, the monster can then mold itself into the shape of a human, acting as a disguise to get closer to the other students. The special effects are all done with practical methods of makeup, prosthetics and some claymation. Watching this artistry bring the monster to life is really the movie’s biggest highlight.
Although there is a creepy atmosphere to appreciate, Vampire Clay focuses on violent body-horror instead of psychological horror, and luckily, a carnivorous clay monster is as absurd as it sounds, and that generates memorable scenes of ridiculous carnage. While Umezawa may not have overtly tried to make a horror-comedy, because of the serious tone he establishes, there’s no denying the inherent dark humour of anthropomorphic shape-shifting clay trying to strangle people with its tentacles.
A fitting addition for CUFF’s late night screenings, fans of gore will be rewarded with some outrageous entertainment as copious amounts of blood, slime and clay splatter across the screen.
Vampire Clay will screen as part of CUFF on April 20, 11:59 pm and April 22, 11:00 am at The Globe CinemaCUFF, The Globe Cinema, Vampire Clay