“Holy Mother” is an empowering, stylish, subversive, and hilarious outing from legendary Japanese filmmaker Yoshihiro Nishimura.
Holy Mother is the upcoming Horror/ Fantasy/ Action movie from Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police, Helldriver, Meatball Machine) and stars trans actor Anna Nagasaki (Super Apartment Wife) in the titular role.
Holy Mother premiered at Brazil’s Fantaspoa Film Festival in 2022, with Nishimura himself in attendance.
It would be unfair to compare Holy Mother to Nishimura’s other works, as this movie is a whole new beast entirely.
While it still features his trademark visual tropes such as UV lighting, Yakuza gang fights, and hot women whose lower halves have mutated into giant monster jaws, Holy Mother proves that Nishimura has enough self-awareness to realize when it is time to evolve with the times, just like his onscreen monsters have evolved to reflect the horrors of the world’s current climate.
Holy Mother features some less-than-subtle commentary regarding the fear-mongering which perpetuated the hateful response seen during the recent pandemic.
The film also features a brand-new heroine for the times: a mute Transgender woman who stamps out injustice with confidence and style.
The story centers on an abhorrently racist corporation called Global International which is muscling in on a small Japanese neighborhood with the intention of eradicating non-Japanese and disabled residents (namely people of Chinese descent who are Working Class) so that it may expand its insidious territories.
The local Yakuza Syndicate are the only ones willing to stand up for their neighborhood, and in response, the greedy corporation sends in their best mercenaries to kill anyone who stands in the way of progress.
The Syndicate provides a safe home to members who society deems as ‘other’ or ‘misfits’, including members of Chinese descent.
This is a subtle reference to the racism inflicted upon innocent Chinese people who were attacked at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020.
As well as protecting their own, the Yakuza provide a haven for local disabled people. During a bloody late-night attack from Global International, the Yakuza faction held fast against an onslaught from crazed assassins. Outnumbered and out-gunned, the Yakuza gang dwindles in number until a savior appears.
That savior is a beautiful Transgender woman scantily clad in futuristic clothing and UV-tinged Corpsepaint.
This movie could easily come off as offensive if you don’t pick up on the extremely tongue-in-cheek humor.
Racist words are thrown around casually. And the characters’ shocked reactions upon learning that (*GASP*) the main female character indeed has a penis may come across as archaic to foreign viewers.
However, once the story gets going, what is apparent is the empathy, understanding, and love shown for its main characters, who share a common goal: to overthrow the outdated, fascist, hateful ideals of their elders.
A foreign audience (non-Japanese) should understand that this movie exists in the same kind of universe as a Troma production or a John Waters movie.
The taboo realms are played for laughs, and any pseudo-political commentary is not meant to be taken seriously.
Once you understand the film’s comedic tone, I guarantee you will have a good time as there is something for everybody.
Nishimura effortlessly blends Sci-Fi, Horror, Action, and Fantasy.
He creates a visual feast for his viewers, which includes some seriously creative, WTF looks for his characters.
For example, a set of female twins sport lower halves that resemble giant wolf mouths complete with sharp, feral teeth. There’s also a Kawaii girl whose head resembles a storm cloud. Finally, there’s an assassin whose weaponized umbrella would make The Penguin green with envy.
While Nishimura’s past movies include some disturbing sexual violence content, Holy Mother instead makes an absolute joke of a would-be abuser and tips the scales back in the favor of women and Transwomen everywhere.
The story plays out in a linear fashion until the third act, when it jumps between different points in time, although this never becomes confusing.
The gore plays out against wonderful candy-colored set pieces and elaborate Cyberpunk costumes, reminding the audience that what they are witnessing is a live-action cartoon.
The pacing is break-neck, and the bloodied action kicks in at just eight minutes into the movie.
The sexualization of its female characters is certainly toned down compared to Nishimura’s other movies. But that’s not to say he doesn’t squeeze in a panty shot or two.
There are notable references and throwbacks to the works of Takashi Miike, including a hilarious ‘’KIRI KIRI KIRIIII!’’ segment — if you know, you know.
Holy Mother’s negatives lie within its outdated camera style.
The use of a janky handheld camera to film most of the fight sequences is reminiscent of found footage movies of the early 00s, and at times the constant shaking gave me slight motion sickness.
The fights themselves are well choreographed but also a little outdated in terms of style, and the use of CG blood during some close-ups comes off as cheap and silly.
However, the overall use of practical blood will be welcomed by many Gorehounds.
There is so much claret in this movie that you’ll feel like you are wearing red-tinted glasses, and the gore itself is trademark Nishimura: pastiche and cartoon-esque despite its frequency.
What Holy Mother lacks in the story, it makes up for in its hyper-stylization.
This is a live-action Manga: colorized and bursting with more zany characters than you can shake a severed penis at.
I laughed so much during this movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride: it never slipped into gratuity in sexual or violent content.
Holy Mother plays upon the ideas of destiny vs. fate, of the Misfits vs. The Man, of the just vs. the unjust.
Although its overall message may become conflated within its flimsy Religious undertones or in its depiction of those living on the fringes, its overall vibe remains: Nishimura wants you to have fun — and to forget the modern constraints of adhering to what society expects of you.
Audiences have grown to expect a particular flavor of film from Nishimura. However, with Holy Mother, he has proven again that he can still subvert expectations with his utterly unique brand of filmmaking.
The moral of Holy Mother is clear: if you screw with the underdog, beware because, like the wolf-mouthed twins, the underdog may just bite back.