Halloween Streamin’ Day 3! Idol is Dead (2012)

Halloween Streamin’ Day 3! Idol is Dead (2012)

English Title Idol is Dead
Japanese Title Aidoru Izu Deddo
Kana Title アイドル・イズ・デッド
Director Yukihiro Kato
Release Date 2012
Distributor Spotted Pro.
Sub Genre Horror Comedy

As a freebie j pop album tie in, Idol is Dead isn’t the likeliest of movies to appear on a site dedicated to horror films, but stars BiS (Brand New Idol Society) weren’t exactly your standard idol group either. It’s hard to think of much of a precedent in the West for this kind of release outside of the obvious candidates of Spice World and A Hard Day’s Night, but Idol is Dead is different in that it was made for the Deluxe Edition of the album the film took its name from. Closest to mind are NIN’s Broken and Malice Mizer’s Bara no Konrei –Mayonaka ni Kawashita Yasusoku-, but even then the comparison isn’t quite apt. Idol is Dead is a decidedly cheap, sorta-horror idol movie in the vein of Machine Girl and others of its ilk.

So, who are BiS and why do they have a Movie?

To review Idol is Dead is almost to review BiS themselves. Active from 2011 to 2014 BiS is the brainchild of indie rock singer Pour Lui, as a contradictory mirror of everything an idol group supposedly should and shouldn’t be. From irresistibly catchy songs like Nerve lambasting awkward male fans for being incompetent with women, to announcing the induction of a new ‘JK’ (high school) member to the group later revealed as 74-year-old Junko Koshino they’re interesting to say the least.

If you’re not familiar with the idol game, the groups often have an abundance of members marketed as naïve ‘available’ virginal girls to a predominantly male fan base dubbed as ‘wota’. And the adherence to an accessible image is a strong one. A member of AKB48 made international headlines in 2013 when in repentance for being found to have a boyfriend shot a video of herself head shaved, sobbing uncontrollably for having let down her fans. BiS’s next video was appropriately of them in bald caps with white fluid spilling uncontrollably from their crotches.

In a nutshell, the idea of BiS is a group of imperfect, sexually explicit idols designed to aggravate your virginal loving wota.  From video tributes to Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo, to appearing in playboy with suggestive fluid on their faces, the act of BiS is a good one, but it would be naïve to claim they’re completely anti idol. After all, the group was started due to Pour Lui’s frustration at seeing clichéd idol groups achieve a level success she didn’t feel was possible as a solo singer. Signed to a major idol label in 2012 they’re the metal fan in the pub singing along to Justin Beiber; and he really hates Beiber. No, really, he does! In Die Antwoord fashion, BiS returned in 2016 apparently having forgotten that they were once a performance, but I digress.

Idol is Dead

Idol is Dead villain

Idol is Dead then, released as a promo for the group’s major label debut album of the same name is an obvious extension of their anti-idol ethos. Packed to the brim with awkwardly long takes; shoddy choreography both in dance and action and the funniest mannequin death this side of Italian cinema, Idol is Dead is niche interest to be sure.

The film follows three of BiS’s original members on their journey to become true idols. A dream born not from ambition, but the accidental murder of a rival idol act by group leader and protagonist Lui.  Unfazed by the deaths, Lui buries the bodies and assumes the more successful group’s identity. As BiS embark upon the very meager road to idol success a mad scientist revives the group’s old rival who vows to see not just the group, but their new fans dead.

As essentially an album DVD pack-in the film doesn’t aim for the highest of heights, but what it targets it achieves rather deftly. There’s a certain energy to low-budget Japanese splatter movies that’s almost irresistible if you happen to be in the mood, and while Idol is Dead is on the more anaemic end of the spectrum, the low-budget playfulness shines through. While BiS would become much more provocational by the time their second album, Who Killed Idol, came around (also with it own tie in movie) Idol is Dead largely succeeds on its light-hearted ambitions.

The only negative to possibly throw at the film is that it doesn’t aim higher. While there’s not a dull moment in its brief sixty minute run time, one can’t help but wonder what they could have achieved if the film were at least feature-length. With plenty more room for the awkward dreams of being an idol, not to mention a larger body count, it would have been interesting to see where they could have taken it. For a film almost entirely set in a dressed up warehouse it’s a testament to writer, director Yukihiro Kato for understanding exactly the tone Idol is Dead would need to succeed on such a low-budget.

There’s also the matter of BiS themselves. While their energetic delivery is undeniably entertaining, tolerances for j pop will obviously vary. That said, Idol is Dead’s four musical numbers are staged in such an awkward manner that viewers will at least get a chuckle, regardless of musical tastes. While not reaching the same stylistic or fantastical heights, the performances bring to mind Takashi Miike’s Happiness of the Katakuris as BiS give it their all to largely uninterested, stone faced crowds.

An awkward mix of Princess Jellyfish with a light splattering of Machine Girl, BiS’s Idol is Dead is more fun than any promo video has any right being.

Idol is Dead is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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Previous Halloween Streamin' Day Two! God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand (2006)
Next Halloween Streamin' Day 4! Grotesque (2009)

About author

Craig Hatch
Craig Hatch 39 posts

Horror Japan is Craig Hatch, a Brit currently living in Tokyo, Japan. Horror Japan is a project that aims to review and collate media from all aspects of Japanese horror culture.

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Editor review

Rating
3.5/5

3.5

Average
3.5
Summary

As a freebie j pop album tie in, Idol is Dead isn’t the likeliest of movies to appear on a site dedicated to horror films. An awkward mix of Princess Jellyfish with a light splattering of Machine Girl, BiS’s Idol is Dead is more fun than any promo video has any right being.