Every week, I scour Netflix for a movie rated at one star and put it in my queue, suffering through it for your entertainment so that you don’t have to. In the past, I’ve taken on backyard wrestling, softcore Iraq war porn and lesbian prison camp anime, and now it’s time to do it again.
Psychic Wars (1991)
Starring: Carcinoma Demonicus
I’ve read an awful lot of movie summaries over the years, but I’ve never seen one quite like the sentence Netflix uses to try to entice viewers into watching 1991’s anime “classic,” Psychic Wars:
When brilliant surgeon Ukyo Retsu removes a cancer from a mysterious old woman, he doesn’t realize that the cancer is a 5,000 year-old demon.
This is, without question, the single best high concept that I’ve ever seen on Netflix.
Still, the execution seems to be where these things fall apart, and with an opening sequence that didn’t bother to color in a crowd (instead just making everyone a vague beige, clothes and all) to the fact that huge chunks of the animation were just lingering pans of still shots, Psychic Wars didn’t really seem to be an exception. Throw in an extremely bland lead character who removes a tumor and then decides to just keep it in a jar on his coffee table and a love interest, Fuyuko, that’s supposed to be beautiful despite the fact that they don’t really finish drawing her face until about 20 minutes in, and it’s pretty easy to see where it got its one-star rating.
And that’s when Ukyo punches out cancer.
For one brief, shining moment, this movie got totally awesome on me, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d stumbled upon an actual underrated gem, but that wasn’t the case, as it’s pretty much all downhill from there. Admittedly, it’s tough to top a scene where your lead gets super-powers so that he can have a throwdown with a tumor possessed by the devil, but the makers of Psychic Wars don’t even try.
Instead, it’s just one generic monster fight after another, starting with an ogre with a voice that sounds like they’re drowning Chewbacca and then moving on to Fuyuko, who turns out to be an underwater horse monster that sort of looks like Meat Loaf, but then turns out to not be Fuyuko at all, all while being harassed by a quintet of glowing ghost nuns.
Incidentally, the way to deal with an underwater horse monster that looks like Meat Loaf? Punch it in the balls.
Me, I wouldn’t have even known an underwater horse monster had balls to punch. But I guess that’s the benefits of 8 years of Anime Medical School.
Eventually, after a trip to a caveman dimension that’s mind-bendingly dull despite the fact that it takes place in a friggin’ caveman dimension (owing largely to the creators’ decision to have it take place entirely in sepia-tone), Ukyo returns to the real Fuyuko and they get it on in a bizarre monochromatic sex scene. It seems pretty intense, too, as the afterglow takes place in what appears to be an all-nude psychedelic rainbow.
Unfortunately, the afterglow is ruined yet again by the arrival of the ghost nuns, who inform Ukyo that he still has yet to kill all of the demons. So just who is this last monster? Well, in a shocking twist, it turns out that Fuyuko is actually the Devil, who took (sexy) human form and, wouldn’t you know, ended up falling in love.
She gets stabbed in the face, of course, but the important thing is that Psychic Wars is a movie where a guy goes from literally punching out cancer to literally humping the Devil, and yet manages to do it in the most boring way possible.
And that in itself is an achievement.
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|Chris Sims is a freelance comedy writer from South Carolina. He briefly attended USC before he dropped out to spend more time with Grand Theft Auto, and his career subsequently took the path that you might expect from someone who makes that sort of decision. He blogs at http://www.the-isb.com and creates comics at http://www.actionagecomics.com.|