One Cut of the Dead in Hollywood is a complete satire of the ’80s LA acting scene with its blonde wigged zombies in the spotlight. Told from a uniquely Japanese perspective, expect stereotypical American leads plainly named Joe & Tom along with kitsch adorned diner settings.
This article contains spoilers. Personal recommendation to watch the original One Cut of the Dead first if you haven’t.
The One Cut of the Dead in Hollywood spinoff is dually unserious and serious. Jumping between an over the top zombie comedy and deep, reflective introspection about its own ‘low budget zombie film’ image.
At one point co-lead character Joe, played by actor Nozomi de Lencquesaing, mocks the entire movie and indie underground scene. Joe tells girlfriend Mao that ‘once they go to Hollywood, they’ll meet real talent & producers and won’t have to do crappy films like this anymore.’
Screenwriter Shin’ichirô Ueda is refreshingly unafraid of criticism, rather, throwing it out to the center stage with lines like this. While the magic of the surprise fourth wall break halfway through the original One Cut of the Dead can’t be done twice… It’s endlessly entertaining to watch the filmmaking process parodied like one giant circus.
It’s an art form to make the meat & potatoes of any film be the ‘behind the scenes’ sections. The ability to make the audience feel clever for discovering an inside track.
Such as when the lead actress for character Holly, played by star Yuzuki Akiyama, is rewritten & repackaged as silent… Because she prefers not to speak any English on-screen that wasn’t approved by her agent.
Or when Mao wearing Holly’s blonde wig tells Joe she can’t come with him on-screen referring to an off-screen relationship request. Leading Joe to improvise.
These kind of moments are what made HBO’s Barry such an endearing series to watch for any prospective Hollywood actor and the general audience. Outsiders to the industry feel like they’ve discovered something they weren’t supposed to know, like a tabloid exposé when the cameras aren’t running. It’s seamless.
Personal favorite being when diner owner Tom [Charles Glover] gets bitten by a zombie and they don’t have enough time to apply all of his zombie makeup… So ‘Tom’ tells lead character/waitress Holly he found zombie medicine and only half turned zombie on camera.
There’s a similarly fun moment when Joe keeps improvising, yelling for his on-screen girlfriend Holly… While Holly’s actress, is asleep due to sleeping pill mixup in ‘real life’.
The idea to dress up Japanese actors in blonde wigs as a quick fix when there wasn’t “enough American extras available” was comedy gold. Particularly, when one of the wigs fall off mid-shoot during a zombie attack. Or the film crew recording the ceiling momentarily when the camerawoman loses her glasses.
The concept of having ‘Holly’ work as a waitress in a Hollywood diner decorated full of novelty items and blonde co-workers is an immediate lighthearted visual.
While scenes like the initial sleeping pill mixup are a bit telegraphed… It’s mainly because One Cut of the Dead’s original brilliant surprise is lighting in a bottle. It can never be replicated. We know those aren’t ‘real zombies’ and the willing suspension of disbelief can’t be returned.
In-film Director actor Takayuki Hamatsu going to sleep in a faux casket and being taken to the middle of nowhere by a moving company had a Bugs Bunny feel. But it’s all amusing nonetheless.
However, the first One Cut of the Dead is a must-watch before viewing the One Cut of the Dead in Hollywood spinoff. You’ll have a completely different opening scene experience of the ‘zombie movie’ without it.
If you’ve seen the original and looking for a lighthearted affair, you won’t be disappointed. There’s much to explore in the comedy horror genre and potential in a series of One Cut of the Dead sequel films.
– Go to Third Window Films to purchase the Blu-ray of One Cut of the Dead in Hollywood, it’s limited to just 2000 copies.
Where to stream One Cut of the Dead:
– Be sure to visit the Japanese Films section for more reviews of Japanese cinema.