Wednesday 9 September 2020

The Flying Luna Clipper (1987)

Director: Ikko Ono
Writer: Ikko Ono
Stars: Anne Lambert, Ina Krantz, Mark Hagan and Zev Asher

Index: Weird Wednesdays.

Back in the eighties, films weren’t as available as they are now, because the internet is a wonderful thing and we shouldn’t ever lose sight of that. Then, I’d read about amazing movies in fanzines that I had no expectation of ever seeing myself. Because I read quite a few zines, I could see the paths of the underground tape trading circuit manifest like a map out of the order by which the latest wild title that came out of nowhere, like Nekromantik or Urotsukidoji, would see review in those zines. For decades, The Flying Luna Clipper was one of those wild titles, a film for the psychotronic cognoscenti to rave about like it was manna from heaven but rarely seen by the rest of humanity. Now, of course, it’s on YouTube in entirety, because, of course it is. The world has fundamentally changed. It’s said that someone found a laserdisc copy in a thrift store, ripped it to digital and sent it to Matt Repetski, because he doesn’t merely write about movies, he writes about video games too. He showed it to Matt Hawkins at Attract Mode, who uploaded it to YouTube.

And that sparked a resurgence of interest in The Flying Luna Clipper, which is very possibly the most unique film I’ve ever seen and a sort of visual shot of happiness. It’s batshit insane, it makes next to no sense and yet, while watching it, I drift into a feeling that all is right with the world. Given that I’m writing in September 2020, the ninth level of the Jumanji game that has comprised this crazy year, that’s quite the achievement, especially for a film released in Japan in 1987, on Video8, Betamax, VHS and LaserDisc, for what was then the equivalent of sixty bucks. And, quite frankly, it’s not really even a film in the sense that we tend to think. It’s more of a psychedelic graphics demo, created on an 8 bit MSX computer. Nishi Kazuhiko had clout, as a founder of the ASCII Corporation and a vice president at Microsoft, and he wanted to create a unified standard for home computers in 1983, but he failed. Sony made the bulk of the MSXs and they only shipped five million units in Japan, those sales helped by the original Metal Gear game.