It has been a long, long time since I’ve spoke of the great Takashi Miike with much enthusiasm, being that I haven’t been impressed by his work in over two years. Today I had the great pleasure of watching his entry in Showtime’s ‘Masters of Horror’ anthology, which is entitled ‘Imprint’. This is the first time since his masterpiece ‘Gozu’ that I’ve been this disturbed by a film. It’s too bad that he was forced to shoot the film in English instead of using subtitles because this truly is lost in translation.
Based on a novel by Shimako Iwai, an American named (Billy Drago) is looking for his lost love named Komomo (Michie) in a small town in Japan filled with prostitutes with the hopes of bringing her back to America. He meets a fellow prostitute who tells the American about Komomo’s fate. The American refuses to believe her story ands prys until he finds out the truth, which he really, really doesn’t want to know.
Takashi Miike is a cult fav because of his total disregard for rules and ethics. His films distort reality and bend the rules into his own. It has been years since Miike has shown his true form and with Mick Garris’ ‘Masters of Horror’ he was able to express himself once again. In total Miike fashion the first 30 minutes or so bored the hell out of me and kept me asking “why was this banned?” I guarantee you’ve never in your life seen anything like this.
If you’re a fan of the show ‘Lost’ you know about a character who’s job in the past was to torture people. One of the most painful places to hurt someone is to stick needles under their fingertips and on the show they get close but never actually show anything – well if you can handle the gore you see it ALL in ‘Imprint. Komomo, being a prostitute, needs her looks, so the other girls tie her up and torture her in places that don’t leave marks. She has needles stuck under each finger, she’s burned in her armpits and has needles also stuck in her gums. We see it all, and the entire time I was squirming. But that’s not all!! This is only the beginning! As the prostitute’s story gets thicker and thicker weirder and weirder things proceed. Without giving away the story you’ll see dead fetuses being discarded into a river and even a disgusting and grotesque abomination of a human being. It’s safe to say that the film will leave an “imprint” on you (yeah I know that’s cheesy).
As f-cuked up and disgusting as the film is, there is only one thing that single handedly ruins the entire aesthetics of the finished work. Like I said in the opening paragraph, Miike is forced to shoot the entire film in English, which kills the actors’ ability to be taken seriously. The broken English takes us out of the atmosphere and the film loses ALL authenticity and integrity. If Miike was allowed to shoot the film in Japanese with English subtitles, this would have easily been another Miike masterpiece- instead we’re left with disturbing imagery on top of a made-for-TV movie.
Being that most of Miike’s career was making made-for-TV movies in Japan, it’s of no surprise that ‘Imprint’ is easily the second best ‘MOH’ next to John Carpenter’s ‘Cigarette Burns.’ Takashi Miike has shown us all why he is a master of the horror genre and I only hope he never leaves us for good. Check this out on DVD later this year from Anchor Bay and IDT Entertainment.