Monday, May 16, 2011

Phil attends the Cult Movie Series screening of BATTLE ROYALE at the Camera 3-May 14, 2011

For years I was a big fan and supporter of the Camera Cinemas' Midnight Movie series. From May til the end of September, they would show popular, cult and horror films at midnight every week at two locations: The Camera 7 Pruneyard on Friday night and the Camera 12 on Saturday night. For over six years I would be there, winning prizes and watching some true film classics such as EVIL DEAD 2, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THE PROFESSIONAL, and REPO:THE GENETIC OPERA. This past February it was reformatted and rechristened as the Cult Movie series. Now they show films once a month at the Camera 3 in downtown San Jose, and it now continues until November. For month number four, they screened the most controversial film ever made. A film that still, to this day, has not been released theatrically here in this country. That film is none other than the Japanese cult classic BATORO ROWAIARU, better known here as BATTLE ROYALE.

Original Japanese Movie Poster (2000)
The film (based on the novel by Koushun Takami) was directed by Kinji Kukasaku and released in Japan on December 16, 2000. However upon its release, the film immediately caused an avalanche of controversy. Now I don't want to explain the whole movie to you all, so I will just state the synopsis: In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary "Battle Royale" act.

Yes, you read that right. And no, I am not kidding.

The film's graphic depiction of students killing off one another hit a little to close to home here in the states. Just a little over a year and a half prior to the film's release, on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, the Columbine Massacre accured. This tragic event left 12 students and one teacher dead, and 21 others injured. The massacre lead to debates about stricter gun control laws, the availability of fire arms (especially in the Wal-Mart superstores), and gun violence involving students. Of course, there was no way that BATTLE ROYALE would get to be imported here, especially in the Post Columbine United States. But over the years, the film has been available for the DVD consumers, in numerous versions and variations. Most recently, the UK based Arrow Video made it available on both Blu-Ray and DVD as a Special Edition 3-Disc set, but only as an import. From the American fans' point of view, they believed that they would never see the film released here in theatres. However, that might be changing very, very soon.

Despite the rumors, the film was never officially banned here in the states. Rather there's never been a distribution deal for the film to be shown theatrically. On November 20, 2010, the film was re-released to theaters in Japan in 3D!! Unbelieable as it may seem, but it's this version that will be released here in America sometime this year, thanks in large part to the film's disrtibutor Anchor Bay Entertainment!!

Some saw the film as a violent abomination; a vile and disturbing piece of celliloid that should have never been made in the first place. Some saw it as work of genius; commenting on the social and politcal climate of that time and forshadowing future events. Either way, BATTLE ROYALE still ignites debate, even 11 years after the film's initial release. Soon, American movie goers will finally be able to see it theaters, however, it'll be interesting to see if it will be played at the local mall's googleplex theater. It probably wont, but it would be interesting to see the look on the faces of the masses after they've seen it. Now I'd buy that for a dollar!

To learn more about Camera Cinemas' Cult Movie series, upcoming films, showtimes, etc, visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

No comments:

Post a Comment