If a rock 'n' roll ghost story crammed with some of Japan's finest musicians rocks your boat then Ghostroads; A Japanese Rock 'n' Roll Ghost Story is probably for you. Jam-packed with great music and made with a real love for the Tokyo rock scene, Ghostroads is the lovechild of four dedicated directors: Enrico Ciccu, Les Dicidous Jr, Ken Nishikawa, and Mike 'In Tokyo' Rogers.
The film follows Tony, a failing rocker in a band called The Screaming Telstars, who finds a haunted amp in a curious old music shop. The amp grants him incredible guitar skills but its resident spirit starts making demands in return for the skills it gives.
There's no denying that Ghostroads is a silly film. After discovering he's acquired a haunted amp, Tony exclaims how the whole affair feels like a cheesy B-Movie. And that's exactly the film's vibe: silly, self-aware, and made for the fans. Admittedly, even at a run time of 75-minutes, it’s thin on the ground. Shameless fan-boy adoration goes into entirety of this film, making it feel suspiciously like a glorified advert for The Neatbeats.
Which isn't a bad thing to be honest, they are a cool band, the soundtrack is superb, and lead singer Tony is a charismatic guide through the world of Tokyo rock. Especially when he's riffing off other Japanese icons like The Privates' lead man Tatsuji Nobuhara Tatsuji. Ghostroads is very literally paying tribute to Japanese rock via the films of The Beatles, even going so far as to namecheck A Hard Day's Night in its tagline. So whether or not its story is particularly rewarding doesn't matter to be honest, the music is the focus. If you don't like ‘50s style rock then this probably won't be for you.
Whilst the story itself is a pretty basic seen-that-before affair, it's a nicely put together film. There's something commendable about the self-dependency of the directors, who all perform multiple duties on the production team. All four directors double as cinematographers whilst Nishikawa steps up for composing, editing, sound editing, and camera operating duties! Effects work is credited to co-director Ciccu, whilst a writing credit goes to his co-director Mike Rogers.
It's clearly an underdog project fuelled by the enthusiasm of its team, and that enthusiasm is infectious. Here is a talented squad of guerrilla filmmakers who, with a little more money and a tweaked script, could turn out something really special. Ghostroads is a short and sweet triumph of zany Rock 'n' Roll cinema, at the very least you're guaranteed to walk away with a newfound appreciation for the Tokyo rock scene. Expect to walk away a fan of The Neatbeats.
GHOSTROADS: A JAPANESE ROCK N’ ROLL STORY / CERT: TBC / DIRECTORS: ENRICO CICCU, LES DICIDOUS JR, KEN NISHIKAWA, AND MIKE 'IN TOKYO' ROGERS / SCREENPLAY: JAMES HONEYCUTT, MIKE 'IN TOKYO' ROGERS / STARRING: KANSAS BOWLING, MINA SHIRAKAWA, RODNEY BINGENHEIMER / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASEDATE TBA