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Masters of Horror: “Imprint” – 8


Director – Takashi Miike

Cast – Billy Drago, Youki Kudoh, Toshie Negishi, Michie

Release Year – 2006

Reviewed by John of the Dead

If you have kept up with Asian horror since 1999, there is a 99.999% chance you know the name Takashi Miike.  Miike broke onto the horror scene with his horror/romantic-comedy(yes, you read right) film Audition, and has since given us some awesome and seldom forgetful horror films.  Known for his fearless approach to taboo subjects such as sex, rape, incest, abortion, extreme gore, torture, and other not so pleasant elements, the guy has made a mark on the horror scene.  It came as no surprise to me that this infamous director was asked to be part of Mick Garris’s “Masters of Horror” TV series which aired on Showtime.  It had been a few years since Takashi Miike had given his fans a grotesque and horrific film, and thanks to the leeway these infamous directors get on the show, he came back in awesome fashion.  As a matter of fact, Takashi Miike’s return to the gore scene was so intense that this entry was turned down for viewing on Showtime(which shows a lot AS IS) and was reserved for release on the DVD box set.  WOW.  Read on.

Imprint stars Billy Drago(Papa Jupiter in Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes remake) as Christopher, an American visiting a small Japanese town that thrives on it’s prostitution industry.  Christopher has come to the town looking for Yomomo, a young girl he met during his last visit there several years prior.  He has come to take her back to America with him and give the kind-hearted Yomomo the life she really deserves, far from the realms of the forced sex trade.  His search for Yomomo is fruitless, until he meets a girl who claims to have known her.  “Known” her?  Yes, the girl claims Yomomo has passed away.  Shocked by the news, Chrisopher begs her to give him every detail of her death.  Unfortunately for Christopher, this proves to be a bad move.  The more and more he delves into her death, the closer he becomes to facing his own demise.

Boy did this film surprise me.  One that I have always loved about Miike is that he leads you on for quite some time.  What do I mean by that?  Well, for the first half of the film all we get is development.  Although I am always fine with development, knowing that this film was “banned from TV” had me thinking “Well, where’s IT at?  Why was this banned?”, and now I know why.  This development leads to one of the greatest sequences of horror I have ever seen.  I was hit so hard with scene after scene of truly insane horror that I never saw coming, yet should have known to expect it.  I won’t go into detail on the scenes, you will have ot view them for yourself without any absolute prior knowledge to feel the full effect of Miike’s onslaught.

Just as in most other Miike films, the direction exceeds the story.  His direction is amazingly done, with each scene beautifully shot with amazing cinematography and perfect lighting.  The gore is well done as well, but I am sure you already assumed that, heh.  Despite the film’s half-length development it paced extremely well thanks much to the direction and an interesting plot.  I was surprised to find that this film’s plot was not nearly as confusing as most of his other plots are, possibly because this one is based on a Japanese novel, outside of Miike’s influence.  Don’t get me wrong, just like nearly all of Miike’s films, your attention is required.  The story throws the viewer through a few loops, and daydreaming will leave you having to rewind and recap the events that ensued.

Overall, this is an awesome and grotesque film sure to please fans of Miike’s genius work, and provide some nice horror thanks to what we get on screen.

Rating: 8/10

– I ranked this film #3 of the 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.

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