Archive for the CKF On the Edge Category

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II: FULL SEQUENCE (2011)

Posted in 2011, CKF On the Edge, Controverisal Films, Extreme Movies, Gore!, Indie Horror, Madness, Nick Cato Reviews, Psychos, Sequels, VIOLENCE! with tags , , , , on October 11, 2011 by knifefighter

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE (2011)
A Bigger, Grosser Centipede…
Movie Review by Nick Cato

Let’s get one thing straight: THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (2009) was made for one reason…to shock its audience. Despite its nearly non-existent plot, its scenes of torture and alternative surgery run amuck have gained a loyal cult following. So, naturally, director Tom Six had his work cut out for him when he set out to top his original with THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE.

Did he succeed?

By the boat load! (“Load” being the key word here).

New York City’s IFC Center held late night screenings this weekend (at both midnight and 12:15). According to a review in a popular magazine, this version of the film is two-minutes shorter than the one previewed by a London film board before they banned it from theaters and even DVD. I don’t think I need to see what could have possibly been edited. Both theaters were sold out, and one of the film’s publicists told the audience the film had sold out its midnight screenings in all eighteen cities across the country. At least I now know there are people out there as deranged as we New Yorkers. After a horror film trivia contest and the handing out of HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 barf bags and staple removers (!), the lights dimmed and the crowd screamed as if about to try out a new roller coaster.

And in a way, we did.

Mute, mentally-challenged parking garage attendant Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) spends his work hours scanning a wall of security cameras while simultaneously re-watching THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE on his laptop. The film has consumed him to the point he decides he needs to create his own bigger & better ‘pede . His bible is a scrapbook of pictures and articles about the film, and it also has his own crudely-sketched blueprints for his own twelve-person abomination. He’s also quite fond of star Ashlynn Yennie, who had the unfortunate roll of being the middle person in the original’s centipede.

Without wasting much time, Martin begins to kidnap his victims by shooting their calves and bonking them unconscious with a crowbar . He gets most of his subjects from the parking garage, causing me to wonder how slow business must be, as no one besides the victims are ever around at one time. And he’s an equal opportunity employer: victims range from prostitutes to housewives, Asian, black, white…no one is denied for any reason (although one child is left in a car, possibly showing Martin has some type of a conscience? The post-ending segment leaves this in debate).

After “renting” a filthy, isolated warehouse, Martin stores his screaming victims on the floor and begins to prep each one for their position on the hellish conga-line. I couldn’t help but think of Pasolini’s SALO, THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (1975) whenever our writhing captives were shown in long shots across the room (and I’m pretty sure the director did, too).

What I found more disturbing than the coming surgery and gore scenes were the depictions of Martin’s home life . He still lives with his elderly mother in a small London flat . A skinhead neighbor upstairs drives them crazy with his loud music, and a visiting doctor delivers a couple of truly bizarre sequences. Martin even keeps a large pet centipede in a glass cage in the living room, which is eventually put to gruesome use. The scenes around Martin’s apartment bring ERASERHEAD (1977) to mind, and not just due to the film being shot in black and white. If nothing else, director Tom Six managed to shoot this thing in a genuinely artistic manner, making me curious to see what else he’ll come up with when this grim trilogy is completed.

Martin, as played by the scary and hideous-looking Harvey, is a different kind of psycho. Besides his stunted mental growth, he suffers from a bad case of asthma and needs to take a hit off his pocket inhaler after subduing each victim. He moves slower than an old-school zombie and doesn’t seem like much of a threat, but he has a sinister way about him that makes him even more frightening than Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) from the first film. I’d love to know where Six discovered this guy.

The most clever idea comes when Ashlynn Yennie shows up in London thinking she has landed an audition for a new Quentin Tarantino film. But, of course, it’s just a ploy set up by Martin to make her the lead centipede.

The second half of the film is destined to become a holy grail for splatter and exploitation film aficionados: Martin pieces his twelve-person ‘pede together using duct tape and a staple gun…and NO anesthesia! While one person dies during the prepping process and a pregnant victim seemingly dies and is tossed aside, Martin soon has a ten-person ‘pede and begins to boss them around the dimly-lit warehouse (but don’t worry…you get to see EVERYTHING quite clearly).

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2:FULL SEQUENCE is vile, disgusting, and at times truly terrifying…but it’s also SO over the top I actually found myself laughing at most of the proceedings (when Martin injects all ten people with 500mg of laxatives, you KNOW the director had to be trying to bring some kind of dark, twisted humor into the mix). This is one of those films most horror fans will hate to admit they enjoyed…but I dare you NOT to.

If there’s one thing I’m truly afraid of, it’s what Tom Six has planned in his demented little mind for the third installment, titled THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FINAL SEQUENCE. Get your barf bags ready now…

Gore/Disturbing Sequences: 4 knives

 Story: 2 knives

© Copyright 2011 by Nick Cato

 

(Editor’s Note: Warning: If it isn’t clear already, this movie is not for everyone. Certainly not for the squeamish or easily offended.)

Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) stops lead centipede Ashlynn Yennie from escaping in THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE, currently at midnight screenings in 18 U.S. cities. Coming to cable "OnDemand" October 12

CKF on the Edge: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN

Posted in 2011, CKF On the Edge, Dark Comedies, Extreme Movies, Gore!, Grindhouse, LL Soares Reviews, Vigilantes, VIOLENCE! with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by knifefighter

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (2011)
Movie review by L.L. Soares

When Rutger Hauer first appears, riding a train car into town, in HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, you have no idea how much of a wild ride you’re in for. Unless you know the movie’s backstory. Back in 2007, the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez team-up flick GRINDHOUSE was making the rounds, bringing back the movie double-feature and the spirit of the 1970s grindhouses. Part of the package was a bunch of fake trailers for totally insane movies. The funny thing is, some of these have been made into actual films. The first was Rodriguez’s MACHETE (2010). Now, we’ve got HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. If you don’t remember seeing that particular trailer when you saw GRINDHOUSE, it’s because the trailer only played in the Canadian version. But it’s been a Youtube  sensation since.

The beginning has a real 1970s vibe, from the music to the time-worn weariness of Hauer’s face in that boxcar. But that changes fast. I was kind of hoping for a homage to 70s vigilante flicks like DEATH WISH (1974) and WALKING TALL (1973), but HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN has more in common with those over-the-top Troma films of the 80s. In a way, I was sad to see it get so bizarre and unreal so quickly, in another way, it never stopped being a fun flick. And a big part of that is Hauer’s performance. You can tell this is a man who used to be an A-list actor, since fallen on hard times, just like that Hobo.

So Rutger Hauer walks into town, and finds himself in the middle of hell. The first person he sees is a guy filming bum fights, offering Hauer a ten dollar bill to join in. People openly brutalize other people in the streets, and the proceedings are lorded over by the town kingpin, Drake, who turns all this carnage into a kind of reality show. When someone crosses him, he puts a manhole cover around their necks, drops them into an open sewer, and then decapitates them using a barbed wire noose and the fender of a speeding car or motorcycle. His thug sons hold guns on the onlookers, demanding they applaud  the goings-on.

This sounds awful grim on paper (or on a computer screen), but it’s played so over-the-top that it’s downright cartoony (is that Troma honcho Lloyd Kaufman I see among the bystanders?), and that’s kind of what saves this film from being a complete downer.

The Hobo is one of the witnesses to “The Drake Show” and he is horrified by the utter anarchy that surrounds him. This is even worse than the Wild West. Anyone can die at any time, and many do. The majority of the populace are so horrified, they don’t lift a finger to stop things, and most of the police force are on Drake’s payroll.

The Hobo has a dream. He is going to buy a lawnmower at a local pawn shop. He is going to start his own business and stop traveling the rails. He is going to settle down and make a home for himself. What the hell is this guy thinking? This is not the kind of place where you settle down!

After being brutalized himself, and saving the life of a prostitute, who almost becomes another casualty at the hands of Drake’s son Slick (the other son, Ivan, is a complete idiot muscleboy who gets high on hurting people), the Hobo decides to fight back. Instead of that lawn-mower, he buys a shotgun on the wall for the same price. And then he goes about using it.

He starts to make news. He’s single-handedly starting to clean up this hellhole. One man begins to make a difference. Drake is so infuriated he first declares it open season on homeless people, hoping to get rid of the Hobo, then he hires a couple of metal-clad killers who call themselves The Plague to finish things (they look like two low-rent Iron Man wannabes).

The performances are actually pretty good for this kind of thing. I already sang the praises of Hauer, who is pretty much the main reason HOBO exists. Throughout this movie, I found myself wondering why we don’t see him more in big budget Hollywood pictures. He’s certainly good enough.

Brian Downey as the evil Drake is a force of nature. This is a role that is pretty one-dimensionally evil, and could be annoying, but Downey is just terrific. He pretty much steals every scene he’s in, and is a lot of fun, in his own psychotic way. A movie villain can make or break a movie like this, and Downey does his part to make HOBO work.

Molly Dunsworth, as the hooker Abby, is also pretty good. She’s the one Hauer’s hobo decides to protect, and while their relationship isn’t really a romantic one, she makes you believe that Hauer would be so concerned about her welfare. And when the going gets tough, she’s not afraid to help with the fighting.

Director Jason Eisener (with a script he wrote with John Davies and Rob Cotterill), took a simple concept, originally meant to be a joke, and turned it into an entertaining feature film. It’s not a great work of art, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a lot of gore and violence and vengeance, and we’ve seen this kind of thing before, but somehow, it works, in the same way that over-the-top gore cartoons that have been coming out of Japan lately, like TOKYO GORE POLICE and MACHINE GIRL (both from 2008) work. Live-action cartoons where anything can happen, and the camera lens gets splashed with blood a few times along the way.

If you’re into this kind of thing, then you’ll dig HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. It’s like eating your dessert before dinner, but don’t expect it to have much in the way of nutrients. If this sounds pretty awful to you, then just avoid it. It’s not meant for you, anyway.

Me, I give it three knives.

© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares

Note: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN has been playing some film festivals around the country and is currently available on cable OnDemand in some cities. I’m not sure if it will get an actual theatrical release or if it will go straight to DVD.


Rutger Hauer is mad as hell in HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN.

LL Soares gives HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN3 knives

CKF On the Edge: SELLA TURCICA

Posted in 2011, CKF On the Edge, Extreme Movies, Gore!, Low Budget Movies with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2011 by knifefighter

CKF On The Edge: SELLA TURCICA (2010)
DVD Review by L.L. Soares

Some of our readers may be familiar with Toetag Pictures, an underground horror movie studio based in Pittsburgh. They started out making some of the most extreme films ever made, like the notorious AUGUST UNDERGROUND series, which play like the home videos of serial killers. But recently, they’ve been dabbling in more traditional, narrative directions, starting with RESDIN TOWER (2006), as well as 2009’s MASKHEAD (which, while it has a narrative story, is still pretty extreme) and now SELLA TURCIA (which came out late last year on DVD).

SELLA TURCICA is the studio’s most accessible film yet. It’s the story of Sgt. Bradley Adam Roback (Damien Maruscak), who comes home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. Right off the bat, we know something bad is coming. It’s not long before Brad’s face is pasty white and he looks sick, even though he insists he’s fine.

His family has turned his homecoming into a celebration, gathering everyone for Brad’s big return. This includes Brad’s mother, Karmen (Camille Keaton, the star of 1978’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE); his sister Ashley (Jade Risser) and his brother, Bruce (Sean P. McCarthy). Everyone is really happy to have Brad back, but they’re also concerned about the fact that he doesn’t seem too healthy.

Brad tries to fit in with his family, but clearly he’s having some trouble adjusting to being back home again.  The movie pretty much covers a 24-hour period, as Brad’s behavior slowly gets more erratic—from smashing a plate at the dinner table to vicious headaches—and when he goes to bed, blood starts leaking out of his ear and he has convulsions.Things only go downhill from there, until we reach the violent and (very) bloody finale.

SELLA TURCICA reminded me a little of Bob Clark’s 1974 classic DEATHDREAM, which is also the story of a soldier who returns home drastically changed by the war. But the films are very different in tone. DEATHDREAM, a real favorite of mine, has an almost nightmarish, surreal quality throughout. SELLA TURCICA shoots for a more realistic look and tone, right up to the filming on high-def video, and it works fine.

For the most part, the cast is pretty good. It’s great to see Keaton back making movies again, and the rest of the family seems believable, even Ashley’s annoying DJ boyfriend, Gavyn (Harvey Daniels). Damien Maruscak is especially good as Brad. And the direction by Fred Vogel is effective throughout.

For the most part, SELLA TURCICA is nicely paced, subtle and builds tension. You know things are going to end badly (and things get very gory), but you’re not really sure what’s going to happen until the end. In the meantime, the movie is a character study of the various family members.

There was at least one scene where it was clear Brad needed medical attention, yet no one calls an ambulance (when they call Brad’s doctor, they “only get an answering machine,”). Why not call 9-1-1 instead? But otherwise, the movie is engrossing and keeps you watching.

The acting keeps the story going, and the plot keeps us wondering what’s wrong with Brad, and ultimately what the “secret” of his illness is.

SELLA TURCICA is a cool title, but what does it mean? Well, the dictionary tells us it’s “a saddle-shaped depression in the sphenoid bone of the human skull.” It’s where the pituitary gland is located. And while this sounds like a pretty odd thing to call your movie, it actually makes sense by the time the end credits roll.

Sella Turcica is a good film that should expand on Toetag’s audience.

© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares

DVD from Toetag Pictures
SELLA TURCICA
106 minutes
Directed by Fred Vogel
Starring: Camille Keaton, Damien Maruscak and Sean McCarthy
Not Rated

CKF on the Edge: EMBODIMENT OF EVIL!

Posted in 1960s Horror, 2011, CKF On the Edge, Classic Films, DVD Review, Exploitation Films, Foreign Films, Gore!, LL Soares Reviews, Supernatural, Surrealism, Weird Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2011 by knifefighter

CKF on the Edge: THE EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008)
DVD Review by L.L. Soares

I’ve been waiting for this one for a while.

Back in the 1960s, Brazilian director Jose Mojica Marins (who, at 75, is still going strong) created his legendary character, Coffin Joe (Ze do Caixao) in a series of films, beginning with AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1964) and THIS NIGHT I’LL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE (1967).  These movies made Joe  as iconic in Brazil as Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster are here. There were other films featuring Coffin Joe over the years (most were never released here), including the LSD-soaked madness of AWAKENING THE BEAST (1970) – these three are the ones that are most easily found in America , and have been shown late at night on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) —but there were more, including a television series, that we’ve never seen here.

With his distinctive look—a top hat, cape, beard and long, gnarled fingernails— Joe (and Marins, who always plays his character) have garnered something of a rabid cult audience here in America, thanks first to the VHS boom of the 80s (which introduced a lot of us to films we never would have seen before) and then DVD (thanks to companies like Something Weird). And while we await the release of more of the old films, we recently got a treat from the excellent company, Synapse Films, who just released the brand new Coffin Joe film, EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008).

There were other films that featured Joe, but EMBODIMENT is important because it wraps up the trilogy started way back with those first two films, AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL and THIS NIGHT I’LL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE. Together, these three films have a shared storyline, and EMBODIMENT offers us a satisfying conclusion after more than 40 years of waiting.

Right off the bat, you know you’re in for a good time, when we see a warden on the phone in his office, arguing with someone over the release of one of his prisoners. The man is so terrified of the convict in question that he surrounds himself with guards as he goes to the man’s cell to set him free. We expect the convict to be monstrous, but when the door is opened, we look upon the visage of —a little old man!

But don’t be fooled. Coffin Joe has killed more than 30 men during his stay in prison alone. And the warden has every right to be terrified of him. Forty years have changed Joe considerably, but he still wears his iconic clothes, and still has menace aplenty in his haunting eyes.

Outside the prison gates, he is greeted by his old servant, the hunchback Bruno (Rui Rezende), who takes Joe to a shanty village (favela) where he can continue his work. And what is his work, exactly? Well, technically, Joe was an undertaker/gravedigger (thus the nickname “Coffin” Joe), but his mission, his holy task, is to find a woman worthy of continuing his bloodline. Joe believes he is above mortal men and that,  in order to carry on the line, he must find a woman of equal worth. But this has not been easy. In the first two films, he kidnapped dozens of women and put them through horrific tests to judge their worthiness –and yet no woman has yet born him the son he demands. Bruno takes Joe to a huge basement room, where he can resume  his experiments, and Joe is eager to resume his work. This time, he even has a group of young followers to assist him —men and women who would gladly die in service to the mission of Coffin Joe— to find the ultimate woman worthy of bearing his son.

I always wondered why Joe did not impregnate multiple women, instead of searching for just one who was worthy, and this movie finally addresses that.

So now, even though he is old and gray, Coffin Joe resumes his quest. Of course, someone as arrogant and determined as Joe is going to acquire enemies along the way. This time around it is the corrupt police force, who routinely terrorize the inhabitants of the favela, and even kill their children viciously, in order to control them with a fist of terror. Coffin Joe rejects this and refuses to bow to anyone. He also goes to a local canteen to face the thugs who run the favela. When they demand that this new resident pay them protection money, he shows them he is not to be trifled with. He is not subject to the laws of mortal men.

At the forefront of the forces out to stop him are a policeman, Colonel Claudiomiro Pontes  (Jece Valadao) who lost an eye to Joe forty years before and  Father Eugenio (Milhem Cortaz) —a priest who tortures himself viciously as penance and hungers to avenge his father, whom Joe had murdered. They join forces and make a pact that when Pontes finally kills Joe, Eugenio will perform a ritual to condemn the villain’s soul to hell.

There are visually stunning scenes, as there usually are in Marins’s films, including Joe making love to a young woman (the niece of blind witches) as the witches – whom Joe has killed and nailed to the ceiling—rain down blood upon them. And a visit to the afterlife (“the core of everything; the center of the centers”), where a mad old man shows Joe the damnations of hell (but Joe has been here before, and is not new to such visions).

There’s also some footage from the older films (which holds up very well), and scenes where Joe is haunted by the ghost of his victims, which are quite powerful, including Laura —a woman who he impregnated but who died in childbirth in the old films.

The tortures of prospective brides are very gory this time around, as Marins ups the ante for a new generation, including everything from submerging a woman into a vat of blood and guts to slicing off the flesh of another and forcing her to eat it, to horrible uses for spiders and rats (favorites of Joe), to a stunning sequence where Joe slices open the belly of a pig to release a woman sewn up inside it.

A showdown between Joe and his enemies after hours in an amusement park is well done, and the ending offers us a fitting conclusion to the story of Coffin Joe.

I always thought Coffin Joe was a fascinating character because he is the most philosophical of monsters. His great “power” is not immortality or superhuman strength, but rather the fact  that he is a man who has risen above the shackles of concepts like “heaven” and “hell.” He is the Nietzschian superman, a man beyond good and evil, who seeks to bring forth a child who is born into this new knowledge—the ultimate free man. What other monster can boast of such lofty ambitions!

For fans of the original series, EMBODIMENT OF EVIL will be a fun, satisfying capper to the story of Coffin Joe. There is a lot of like about this one, and Marins does not disappoint his fans. For newcomers to the story, this is will be a very strange and wild ride through the tortures of the damned, led by a demented ringmaster. But either way, it’s well worth your time. If you have a strong stomach and are looking for something far removed from the by-the-numbers slasher films we usually get here in America, EMBODIMENT OF EVIL is for you!

If I gave ratings to DVDs – I’d give this one four knives!

© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares

Blue Ray/DVD Combo Pack from Synpase Films
EMBODIMENT OF EVIL
94 minutes
Directed by: Jose Mojica Marins
Starring: Jose Mojica Marins, Jece Valdao and Milhem Cortaz
Not Rated

The Blue Ray/DVD is available now from Synapse Films

CKF On The Edge: IMPRINT

Posted in 2006, CKF On the Edge, Controverisal Films, Extreme Movies, Japanese Horror, LL Soares Reviews, Takashi Miike Films, Television with tags , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by knifefighter

CKF ON THE EDGE:
IMPRINT (2006) (An unaired episode of the Showtime series MASTERS OF HORROR)
DVD Review by L.L. Soares

I was pretty excited when the cable channel Showtime began showing their MASTERS OF HORROR series in 2006. The idea behind the show was great. Take some top-notch, and mostly A-List, horror directors and let them push the envelope and go further than past anthology shows. The result, however, was a mixed bag. Although I’d say that, in Season One at least, there were more interesting or downright good episodes than there were clunkers. (Season Two was another thing entirely)

Looking back on the first season, the one thing that struck me most is how Showtime reneged on their original concept. They shied away from truly subversive cinema by first censoring Dario Argento’s episode JENIFER (cutting an oral sex scene gone awry) and then refusing to air Takeshi Miike’s installment, IMPRINT.

Some of my favorite episodes of the season were John Carpenter’s stellar outing CIGARETTE BURNS, John Landis’s return to form in DEER WOMAN (a perfect blend of humor and horror that harkened back to his AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON from 1981) and Argento’s aforementioned, and totally twisted, mini-masterpiece JENIFER.

But after seeing Miike’s banned episode, I found IMPRINT to be easily the best of the bunch.

This wasn’t really much of a surprise. Miike’s film AUDITION (1999) is in my top 10 of best horror movies of all time, and he directs IMPRINT with the same kind of disturbed poetry that permeates his best work.

Billy Drago, the quirky, intense actor who has appeared in everything from B movies like the Chuck Norris flick HERO AND THE TERROR (1988) and Alexandre Aja’s remake of HILLS HAVE EYES from 2006 (as Papa Jupiter) to television shows over the years, from T.J. HOOKER to CHARMED, plays Christopher, an American who begins the episode taking an eerie late night boat ride, on a river full of corpses, to an island in 1890s Japan. He has searched all over the country for the beautiful Komomo (Michie Ito), his one true love, who he promised he would one day rescue and take away from her life of prostitution.

The island is full of prostitutes, and while Komomo is not there, Christopher is forced to choose someone else for the night. With dozens of women reaching out for him from behind barred windows, he chooses an isolated woman at the back of the room (Youki Kudoh), who it turns out is disfigured.

When he is alone with his choice, the woman sees right through him and knows that he pines for someone else. She gets him to talk about Komomo and his plans to find her, and then reveals that she knew his great love. The prostitute then goes on to tell him the story of how his beloved Komomo met her horrific end.

At first she tells him a story of how Komomo was the only one on the island to be nice to her, and how the other prostitutes hated Komomo because of her beauty. When the Madame’s jade ring is stolen, and Komomo is framed for the theft, the other women take great glee in finally having an excuse to punish the girl who is prettier and thinks she is better than they are. They all bring her to a punishment room, where they wait eagerly for Komomo’s comeuppance. What happens next is a long, drawn-out torture scene involving at first burning incense and then long vicious needles applied to fingernails and gums, which was probably a big part of Showtime’s reluctance to air the episode.

Once the disfigured prostitute’s story is over, however, Christopher knows that she is not telling the entire truth, and demands that she tells him everything. This results in her telling the story twice more, about her own childhood and about how she met Komomo, and Komomo’s torture and death. Each time, the story changes slightly. The structure of the episode is similar to the classic Japanese film RASHOMON (1950), except that instead of telling the story from several characters’ point of view, IMPRINT tells us multiple versions of the same story from one person.

I do not want to give too much away, but, as the story gets more horrific with each telling, we start getting into such taboo areas as incest and abortion (probably the number one reason why this episode did not air on American TV). Throughout, there is a strong surreal quality to the proceedings that make us feel as if we’re drifting through a nightmare, up to the ending which is completely bizarre, yet effective.

I thought the lead actors were all good, even Drago whose character is a little over the top. Drago’s performance worked for me, however, because its oddness added to the nightmarish tone.

Miike is a director who does not shy away from shocking images and truly disturbing subject matter, but he is also a visual poet, and there is as much beauty and strong use of color in IMPRINT as there is repulsive and terrifying imagery.

While I did think IMPRINT was a strong, disturbing film, and am not surprised by Showtime’s timidity in not showing this episode, I do not agree with their decision at all. IMPRINT is a very powerful episode and Miike is a true artist. Since horror is supposed to push our buttons, Miike succeeds in proving that he is a true Master of the genre. If it had caused more controversy by being aired, then it would have simply confirmed the promise of the series. A premium cable channel that claims to offer true freedom for filmmakers needs to stick to its guns. But I guess keeping subscribers from possibly jumping ship is the true bottom line.

I suppose we should be thankful that IMPRINT saw the light of day at all, and that we’re able to watch it on DVD (the DVD came out after Season One was over. But I find it supremely ironic that the one episode they didn’t show on television was the crown jewel of the bunch.

Directed by: Takashi Miike
Screenplay by: DaisukeTengan (based on the novel by Shimako Iwai)
Starring:
Billy Drago, Youki Kudoh, Michie Ito, Toshie Negishi and Shimako Iwai
Cinematography by:
Toyomichi Kurita
Special Effects by:
Yuuichi Matsui

© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares

(Note: A slightly different version of this article was first published on the Australian movie website DVD RESURRECTIONS in 2006)