Helldriver director Nishimura Yoshihiro and lead actress Eihi Shiina brought the sort of enthusiasm to the screening Thursday that shows they appreciate their fans as much as the fans appreciate them. They cheerfully introduced this unedited director's cut of the film, which evoked thunderous bursts of applause and laughter from the crowd throughout.
When the movie ended, things took a familiar turn towards the debauched, as Nishimura and Sushi Typhoon co-conspirator Marc Walkow took the stage wearing only fundoshi (traditional Japanese underwater). Along the way, Nishimura flanked members of the audience with a zombified baby swinging on an umbillical cord, one of his twisted creations featured in the film.
Shiina, while the most reserved of the crew, was not too shy to please the crowd. When fans asked about her famous "acupuncture" scene in Audition, she gladly performed the gleeful sounds she made ('kiri kiri kiri') which made the scene chilling.
As the screening room emptied, the lobby and main hall of the Japan Society became a bizzare carnival ground. In the center, Shiina and Nishimura helped sell a special tenegui, made just for the event to raise money for earthquake recovery efforts. They also signed autographs and posed for photos.
Towards the back of the hall, the band Vaura laid down a heavy, brooding soundtrack while fans of Japanese horror and underground cinema cavorted around the place; many of whom paraded around with Nishimura's grotesque special effect creations, which were also auctioned off for charity. Amongst the revelers, I spotted Sawa Masaki, lead actress from the recently shown at Tribeca film, Underwater Love.
Below are a few visuals from this very special evening.