Paul Young is a director who does not shy away from showing his artistic influences in his work. Ghostmaster (original Japanese title Gôsuto masutâ) does shy away from traditional supernatural J-horror and directly quotes from classic American horror films such as The Evil Dead and Army of Darkness. The film is filled with DIY special effects and bad computer graphics. The lo-fi and low budget nature of the film adds to the strange and bizarre visuals that are presented on screen and make for a funny, but not entirely scary, trashy Japanese horror film.
Ghostmaster begins in a deceptive way. We see what appears to be a cheesy high school romantic comedy. Different school kids are introduced and each seems like a stereotypical teenager. The curtain is then pulled back and we realise we are on the set of an adaptation of a popular girls manga series. The director appears to be in over his head and finds it hard to direct the cast and crew who are making his life difficult. He blames the breakdown of film on his assistant director, who happens to be called Akira Kurosawa (although he bears no resemblance to the legendary Japanese director). Through a sequence of bizarre and highly unlikely events the assistant director unleashes a demon which possesses the script and then the lead actor. The actor goes on a killing spree and each member of the cast crew is picked off one by one in a series of strange and exuberant death scenes.
At times Ghostmaster is a straight-up comedy, with the script and fine performances from the cast delivering the bulk of the laughs. The reliance on comedy means that the scares aren’t as frightening or horrific as they could be. The over-the-top special effects and comedy performances remove any danger from the film. Even though the devil is present and death and destruction is all around, we rarely feel that the cast are in immediate peril. Despite this, Ghostmaster does have the feeling of a trashy midnight movie and would appeal to horror fans who enjoy their laughs more than their scares.