"Masters of Horror": Imprint
Directed by Takashi Miike (who directed dishon (1999) aka "Audition") and starring Billy Drago, Michie It, and Youki Kudoh.
The one ôMasters of Horrorö that was banned from US televsion is now on DVD!
Set in Victorian Era Japan, a journalist, Billy Drago, has been searching the brothals of the country looking for Komomo (Michie It() his long lost love who he promised to buy and take away to a better life. After another disappointing visit to a brothal he stays the night and begins talking to a Woman (Youki Kudoh) who he aks if she knows any bed time stories. She tells him the sad story of her life which just happens to include Komomo.
Now I have never seen "Audition", MiikeÆs twisted tale about an audition turned in a torture, I had seen a show once on Bravo that listed the top 25 horror moments in horror and Rob Zombie said ôAuditionö disturbed him. Now after seeing a few of Rob ZombieÆs films I am not quite sure what he finds disturbing. Nothing in his films shocks or disturbs me. Anyway ôImprintö disturbed the hell out of me. ôThe Womanö tells her story and reveals herself to be the daughter of mid wife who also was the villageÆs abortionist. ôThe Womanö was an out cast from birth and we later learn she was in charge of disposing of the unborn babies in the local river. So not the happiest of childhoods for our storyteller, she is then sold into the brothel and meets Komomo. The two become friends and look after one another. One day Komomo is accused of stealing the MadamÆs favorite ring and is then tortured. However since she is a whore and they donÆt want to mark her up, since it will only hurt business, they torture her where no one will notice. Now I have watched a lot of strange movies and seen a lot of things that were supposed to scare me. What they do to Komomo is beyond horror, itÆs inhumane. I found myself looking away. Now I know itÆs a work of fiction but to watch this poor woman suffer and to see it only get worse was one of the most horrific moments I have ever seen. The truth of the matter is the torture scene probably wasnÆt the reason why it got banned. The abortion scenes are probably what did it (they too are a little rough to watch but those are clearly fake babies and not a moaning actress withà well I donÆt want ruin anything if you are daring enough to watch this).
This is shocking and scarier than anything I have ever seen at the movies or on ôTales from the Cryptö, ôTales for the Dark Sideö, etcà What was disappointing was the storyÆs flow. First we learn about the Journalist and his search for Komomo. Then we meet ôThe Womanö with her sad tale. They we learn about KomomoÆs torture and death. Then we learn the truth about why Komomo died. Then we really learn the truth about ôThe Womanö and how Komomo really really died. Yeah, you read that right. The flashback is an interesting and often effective tool to tell a story but when you retell a flashback and add ôwhat I didnÆt tell you before was my Siamese sister is living in my head and telling me what to doö you start to lose me. Imprint would have worked better to see Komomo and ôThe WomanÆsö lives start and intersect and then reveal the monster that ôThe Womanö was at the end. I felt jerked around and not surprised by the Siamese thing at all. It was like adding one drop of gasoline to a bonfire of horror. It wasnÆt necessary.
This was bar far the best ôMasters of Horrorö I have seen yet. Interestingly enough it was the first one by a director I had only heard about and hadnÆt seen any of his work. Sorry Joe Dante and John Carpenter but Takashi Miike has you out classed when it comes to being a Master of Horror.