Interview: 'The ABCs of Death' Letter Z Director Yoshihiro Nishimura
by Jeremy Kirk
February 1, 2013
Even if you don't know the name Yoshihiro Nishimura, if you've seen movies like Tokyo Gore Police or Helldriver, you are fully aware of the director's unique style of over-the-top gore and imagery that could only come from someone's nightmares. A makeup and special effects artist, as well, Nishimura has dug a long line of memorable images in the nine films he's directed. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for him to be 1 of the 26 directors chosen to contribute to Drafthouse Films' The ABCs of Death, a horror anthology bringing together the best genre filmmakers out there. Luckily we had a chance to speak with him recently.
Jeremy Kirk of FS.net was fortunate enough to be selected as 1 of the 26 websites chosen to speak with the various ABCs of Death horror directors about their style, how they see death in film, and how they view the current state of independent, horror film making and essentially introduce these visionary directors to a general audience that may not be familiar with their work. We were chosen to interview Nishimura, and our short interview originally conducted via email late last year can finally be revealed to everyone. So without further ado, here's the mini-interview we conducted with Mr. Yoshihiro Nishimura, of "Z is for Zetsumetsu":
Mr. Nishimura, thank you for taking time to answer our questions. Where do you mostly get the ideas for the horror images you create for your films?
Nishimura: I often have nightmares. The images I see in them regularly inspire ideas in filmmaking for me. I also often draw storyboards while drinking in a standing bar in Tokyo [a standing bar is a cheap style of bar in Japan, one without seats where customers stand and drink while eating small dishes of inexpensive food]. Because I'm drawing them while I get drunk, these ideas probably come out of my subconscious. Maybe it's something akin to surrealism?
What would you say is your primary goal in creating a horror film, to scare your audience, to shock your audience, or another reaction altogether?
Nishimura: I want to make the audience immediately think, "I need to see that one more time!"
What other horror anthology films did you pull from while working on The ABCs of Death?
Nishimura: Nothing in particular, actually. While I was making my ABCs of Death entry, I also took part in another horror anthology called The Profane Exhibit. Because it's got a completely different atmosphere from ABCs, I want audiences to take a look at that, as well.
How do you view the current state of independent horror filmmaking, and what changes do you see it going through in years to come?
Nishimura: In Japan, it seems like a lot of films have been made that are very similar to things I've done, or things my partner Noboru Iguchi has done. I'm happy about that, but personally I'd like to see something new, as well. If nobody is playing around with new ideas, there's very little motivation to move forward in the genre.
What is the most memorable death you've ever seen depicted in a film?
Nishimura: I like the stuff in Flesh for Frankenstein !
Would you say that being a horror filmmaking has helped you understand death, and, if so, when did you first come to realize this?
Nishimura: Not particularly. Death is always close to us, and is a very natural phenomenon. I don't think you could say it's something I think about any more because I happen to be a filmmaker.
That's all for now. A huge thank you goes out to Mr. Yoshihiro Nishimura, Drafthouse Films, and FEARnet's Scott Weinberg for organizing these interviews across different sites. Nishimura's visionary style is a perfect fit for what looks to be the craziest work of horror put to film in a long while. Made by Drafthouse Films, The ABCs of Death was first released in limited theaters in November of 2012. It's now available on iTunes and VOD, and will be on Blu-Ray/DVD this May. Yoshihiro Nishimura (Speakerman: The Boo, Tokyo Gore Police, 63-fun-go, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, Helldriver) directed the short segment "Z is for Zetsumetsu" for The ABCs of Death, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and Fantastic Fest.