2000s Sci-Fi Horror Action Fantasy Is An Ultra-Violent Must-See Cult Classic

By Brian Myers | Published

A few epic foreign films released each year unfortunately escape the radar of U. S. viewers. For every Ichi the Killer or Battle Royale that slips into America’s streaming subscriptions, there are incredible gems that take far too long for recognition by Western audiences, if ever appreciated at all. The good news is that several VOD services offer Versus, the greatest action-zombie movie you’ve never seen.

Not Your Typical Zombie Film

Versus is a zombie movie that pivots away from the undead outbreaks and doomsday plotlines of the films and shows by George Romero, Lucio, Fulci, and Robert Kirkman. The undead seen in Versus is the result of bodies buried on ground that is sacred to some of the Earth’s most evil forces.

It’s revealed in Versus that there are 666 doorways on the planet that connect it to the dark realm. One of these portals was discovered in Japan in the 10th century. The movie shows the 444th portal in the Forest of Resurrection as a samurai fights off a legion of zombies, only to be killed by a priest who arrives with soldiers.

The Forest Of Resurrection

Versus fast-forwards to the present day. The movie follows two recently escaped prisoners who meet with Yakuza members deep in the Forest of Resurrection. After one of the prisoners kills a gang member, the corpse rises from death as a zombie. As the movie progresses, all the people the Yakuza members have killed and buried in the Forest of Resurrection rise from their shallow graves and go on the attack.

Genre-Blending At It’s Finest

Versus weaves all the elements of a martial arts action movie into a horror crossover that delivers one of the best zombie films of the 2000s. Tight fighting sequences between the escaped cons and the Yakuza, as well as the employment of martial arts against the undead, are artfully orchestrated. The B-grade look of the zombies adds a Ketchie quality to the movie, but fans who tune in to such a film will see that the sinister storyline that unfolds more than makes up for lackluster makeup.

Originally Envisioned As A Sequel To Down To hell

Versus was directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, who co-wrote the screenplay with Yudai Yamaguchi. The movie was originally intended to be a sequel to Kitamura’s short film Down to Hell, but was greenlighted to be its own production. Working off a production budget of only $10,000, Versus stretched every dollar it had on hand to make a movie well worth the rental fee.

An Homage To Evil Dead

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Kitamura stated that he was influenced by Western horror films from his childhood, noting Evil Dead in particular. In that respect, Versus serves as an homage to the Sam Raimi cult classic, combining it with elements taken from another one of Kitamura’s favorite films, Highlander. The movie has done well with critics, garnering a 73 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes.

Versus stars Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo, Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, and Kenji Matsuda. The movie features a score by Nobuhiko Morino.

The Versus movie can be seen via VOD through several streaming services, including AppleTV, Prime, and GooglePlay.