From the wild imagination of Makoto Tezuka comes Monster Heaven: Ghost Hero (1990). Shot directly to video, Monster Heaven: Ghost Hero is an artifact of its time, boasting some of the most absurd looking video effects. Tezuka’s manic pacing and surrealist impulses make the most of a low budget production.
Monster Heaven: Ghost Hero is about an executive who refuses to take control of his late father’s company. When the sadistic former president of the company returns and unleashes an evil spirit, it is up to our hero and a punk rock band of monsters to stop the evil using holographic technology. Tezuka essentially pits traditional Japanese folklore against western capitalism in a film that could be described as Ghostbusters II (1989) meets Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990).
There’s more Joe Dante to Tezuka’s style than there is Ghostbusters fortunately. Though Tezuka has a innate flair for dream-like images, his sense of narrative pacing and political commentary is very much in line with Dante’s. One of the most memorable images in Monster Heaven: Ghost Hero is near the end where a giant woman plucks the carcass of the evil spirit off the ground far below and slowly ingests it.
The problem with Monster Heaven: Ghost Hero is that, unlike Tezuka’s The Legend Of The Stardust Brothers (1985), it lacks a charismatic protagonist. The most compelling characters are the punk band of monsters who only appear briefly at the beginning and towards the end of the film. This casts the viewer adrift in an uninteresting narrative whenever the visual fireworks aren’t kicking into overdrive.