In a future dystopia teenaged girls begin dying for no apparent reason -- and often in an elated, chronically happy state of mind. One of these girls, Stacy, is back from the dead, however, and she's ready to gorge herself on human flesh. As more and more teenage-girl zombies begin to feast on the living, the people of Japan brace themselves and try to find a way to end the madness.
Directed by: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
. Starring: Norman England
, Tomoka Hayashi
, Yukijirô Hotaru
, Ryôichi Inaba
, Natsuki Katô
, Ryûki Kitaoka
, Shirô Misawa
, Masayoshi Nogami
, Toshinori Omi
, Kenji Otsuki
, Hinako Saeki
, Yôji Tanaka
, Masayoshi Tomomatsu
. Music by: Tokusatsu
Like most online reviews, the Synapse DVD packaging describes Stacy as a comical splatter-fest in the vein of "Evil Dead 2" an "Brain Dead": a basically good-natured belt of ghoulish bad taste delivered on a dollar- store budget. Zombie schoolgirls vs. chainsaws, what's not to like?
While that description is generally accurate, it misses some crucial subtext, normalizing and underselling a remarkably strange film. Stacy may trade in the mechanics and visuals of a traditional zombie flick, but its primary goal seems to be a disturbing sort of social satire. Director Naoyuki Tomomatsu uses his zom-com framework to explore the fetishized image of the "schoolgirl" in Japanese popular culture, ultimately seeming to suggest that there's little distance between pedophilic adoration and murder.
In Stacy's world, all teenage girls have become infected with a mysterious disease. This condition initially manifests itself in "Near Death Happiness", a honeymoon period which causes the afflicted to behave in a deliriously happy, seemingly love-struck fashion. After a short time, however, she suddenly dies, only to rise again as a flesh- hungry, undead "Stacy".
Near Death Happiness (or "NDH") is our first clue that Stacy is not quite so one-dimensional a film as the crude horror comedy trappings suggest. To put it simply, NDH makes young women behave like representations of the "magical girl" character type in Japanese manga and anime. Those exhibiting the condition laugh and giggle constantly, twirling their skirts and flirting with childish naivete. Their skins exude a "Butterfly Sparkle Powder" that makes them glisten in the sun and glow in the dark. They wear ridiculous lolita-fetish finery and carry supernatural totem objects symbolizing their innocence. In other words, Near Death Happiness transforms ordinary teenage girls into mindless reflections of mediated desire.
Around this core, the filmmakers string intersecting riffs on girl-love, transgression and murder. Although Stacy is organized in the scattershot manner of a sketch comedy program, every plot thread eventually becomes a love story. Every character is motivated by a desperate hunger for affection, and this hunger typically resolves in murder - murder either of or by the beloved. Much of this is funny, some of it oddly touching, and certain moments (such as a scene wherein a heartbroken mass murderer of little girls is forgiven by the ghosts of his still-devoted victims) are deeply disturbing.
At the heart of the film, separate from all the bloody zombie action, is a stand-alone narrative arc that traces the growing fondness between an older man and a 16-year-old girl. This story functions as a sort of framing device, providing structure to an otherwise digressive collection of asides. In this mini-film, we follow a clearly pedophilic - yet chastely platonic - relationship from its inception to the moment where the man can no longer hide his forbidden feelings. At this point, he takes the girl into a public garden (at night) to "tell her" the secret. His climactic revelation is presented as a an absurdly overstated act of heroism and triumph: beautiful, soaring and oddly tragic.
In the morning, however, the little girl is (somehow) dead, and her would-be lover is left to tidy the mess of his failure. Stacy presents all this as a polemic of sorts, an impassioned commentary on the destructive consequences of repression - with the corollary suggestion that confession permits positive change and transformation. Within this ostensibly inspiring moral, however, lies the revolting suggestion that pedophilic desire necessitates murder, and that this isn't such a bad thing, really. Though any film so slapdash and deliberately perverse will always remain open to interpretation, Stacy seems to imply that homicide is the most authentic form of love-transaction that can exist between older men and little girls.
Sort of... The filmmakers toy with a number of interesting (and unnerving) ideas, but the end result is a complete mess: a ramshackle assemblage of juvenile jokes, lurid shocks and cheap provocations. Stacy's tongue is always firmly in cheek. As a result, any attempt at "serious" interpretation is probably doomed from the start. Which is fine. I prefer that my examinations of cultures and dreams remain a bit inconclusive. Seems more humane that way.
Anyway, I dig it. Funny, gross, clever, stupid, surreal and even strangely moving. Stacy is creepy in ways that most movies (hell, most art forms) wouldn't dare touch with a ten-foot pole. The final moments blatantly suggest that a happy utopia could be achieved if only men were allowed to love "Stacys" (i.e., teenage schoolgirls) in peace, without harassment or shame. Then they wouldn't need to murder in order hide their affections. How's that for a fked-up "moral" in a zombie- splatter-comedy?
Review by conedust from the Internet Movie Database.