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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The final entry of the series, Takeshi Miike's Imprint was banned from
American TV. Mick Garris claimed it was the "most disturbing film iv
ever seen". I wouldn't go THAT far! I can see why it was banned - Miike
is still refusing to back down and STILL has a total disregard for
limitations on what he is allowed to show on film (i think this is the
first time iv seen an abortion in a movie). The story follows an
American who has travelled to Japan to find the love of his life,
Komomo, and take her back to America with him. While there, he meets a
woman working as a whore, who used to work with Komomo and has to break
the news about her death. The whore (i cant remember her name, so i'll
have to refer to her as "the whore") tells how she has been outcast as
a "freak" all her life because of the deformities on her face, and the
film is shown in the stories she tells, of their life as whores and how
Komomo died. The twists come when we find out the whore isn't telling
the truth, and we see different versions of the story, and what really
happened is slowly revealed, along with the true extent of the whores
deformities. This is the first English language piece Miike has
directed, as far as I'm aware. The broken English kind of gets in the
way - as do the moments of bad dialogue - but apart from that, this is
what Miike does best - his trademark style of disturbing and bizarre
imagery and dark humour, which i can NOT get enough of! This is not one
of his best, but is quite a horrific little film. Miike retains some of
usual themes (its nice to see his obsession for torture with needles is
still there! VERY nasty scene!) and the haunting atmosphere throughout
and some of the events are very reminiscent of Gozu - probably his best
This final entry has left the series hanging on a high note, it is 1 of the best ones in the series (along with John Carpenters f**ked up entry and Lucky McGees episode) i cant wait for Season two, baby - BRING IT!
It's not exactly as surprising really that the Showtime network decided
not to pick up director Takashi Miike's entry into the Masters of
Horror, Imprint, but rather why they chose him in the first place.
Didn't they think after seeing Ichi the Killer and Audition and Gozu,
among probably a dozen others I can't think of, that he would deliver
something to the highest X-rated for violence &/or sex caliber? I'm
guessing then they either decided to take a calculated risk, or maybe
Mick Garris was such a huge fan of his he must've known what he was
getting. Maybe no one did. Certainly not me, and I've already dug into
a good few of Miike's movies. This one definitely ranks up there as one
of the most shocking of the lot of the works he's made, matter of fact
probably ever will. It's how really that the director approaches the
subject matter, and how its presented, that really makes it so
effective in the realm of real horror. This isn't for kids, make that
perfectly clear; indeed I'd say if you've ever really been close to
babies, or have had them, you might really feel disgusted by a few of
the key scenes in Imprint.
At first Miike seems to be dealing with something that is intriguing, though in a familiar style. It's a Rashomon-style tale of the truth behind a grisly matter, in this case the death of a prostitute, Komomo (Michie Ito, pretty heart-wrenching when she gets time to be). Her one-true-love, Christopher (Billy Drago, in a performance that's somewhat like David Carradine but in a slightly different, not-as-magnificent key), is there to find her on an island run amock with prostitutes. He goes to pieces over the news, which he hears from a woman (Youki Kudoh, the most effective and shattering performance of the film) who has a scarred face. He then hears a 'story' of what happened to her, but through the woman's story as opposed to exactly Komomo's. The woman has to tell her own story, which starts off rough from when her mother sends her away as a child from their river-side house to the ring of 'whores' she becomes apart of, and where she meets Komomo. But this story, of which the first real rush of horror comes in following an interrogation/torture of Komomo, is only the first one, and not necessarily the 'truth'.
What comes out as the truth soon enough turns into something that not only did I not expect, but had me cringing and with eyebrows raised, but once or twice sort of laughing too. This isn't a very funny effort really, and unlike Visitor Q Miike doesn't combine satire with the more disturbing, bone-chilling elements. It's a straight-up no-holds barred look at the darkest side of human corruption and exploitation, with the surprises that come up really too hard to believe at times. For example when we finally do see the woman's ultimate 'secret', it borders on being a laughable, un-Godly sight gag. But it's dealt with in the utmost serious way, and meant as allegory- which it is without a doubt the case- is very powerful. What ends up being the most horrific, and horrific to a point that will make those in the US who seek out the DVD covering their eyes and feeling ripped to shreds, is stuff that isn't completely abstracted like with the ideas of 'the soul being in heaven or the body being in hell'.
It's in seeing how the woman came to be, from birth, and how seeing what she saw- her mother's 'occupation'- along with her certain 'ailment' involving her sibling, combine together into something that is much more potent than monsters or savage lunatic psychos. For Christopher, this is something that brings him to the brink of his own cognizance, and what his love for Komomo really meant. Seeing how Komomo had her final days on Earth is pretty staggering, but for the viewer its not exploitive in the sense that it's just shock-value for shock-value's sake (though I'm sure many would argue that, especially over notorious scenes in other Miike films). It's there for a purpose, and made purposeful through the style that is very unlike how typical TV mini-movies are shot. Sometimes we get the bloody, creepy shots, and sometimes not, adding to what horror is or isn't seen as part of the effect. In the end, all of it adds up to something that I might want to try to forget soon, but I probably won't be able to.
In short, if you're already a fan of Miike's, this should be like the treat of the season, with a mix of the director's bravura film-making technique (some shots are pretty incredible, like the tilt from the water to that tree, in tint of green, or the detail in how he shoots 'things' moving in backgrounds, and long-shots), and the no-punches-pulled sensibility of the subject matter. In this case a world of maybe the purest hell on earth with only the dire hopes and undermined will of getting to a heaven. It's one of the director's very best, albeit shortest, works in his very prolific career. A-
Imprint lives up to its name. This movie will not scar you but it will
definitely leave and impression. I would consider this film a work of
art on so many levels. The art direction is just amazing. How can such
disturbing scenes look so beautiful.
If you are a fan of horror and want to see something you have never seen before, something truly shocking, then give this film a try. Granted it does take about 20 minutes to start coming together and the lead actor comes off a bit cheesy but once it gets started it never lets up to until the end. Takashi Miike is a genius. He can make your jaw hit the floor and just when you think you can pick it up again he stomps it back down. A lot of his films are not as bad as people make them out to be but this one definitely lives up to what I have read about it. Truly Creepy!!!!
OK just a quick little comment from me. This short film, imprint is
based on a Japanese book. I haven't read the book but it seems like a
good thing for Miike to direct as it includes familiar Miike themes
such as prostitution, hints of pedophilia and torture. The story is
quite good, told in flashbacks mainly it is about a beautiful
prostitute who died. The story is revealed nicely and keeps you
guessing and misleads you to maintain the intrigue.
Their are some very disturbing scenes such as some torture and abortion bits. Its shot quite nicely with some nice lighting and camera movement. The story ends up surprising you and disgusting you at the same time.
This is the best Miike film for a while, graphic, intense, shocking, true horror.
Its easy to see why it didn't play on showtime.
Wow! If you're about to watch "Imprint", you should prepare for sixty of the most intense and horrific minutes of your life, as Takashi Miike's contribution to the "Masters of Horror"-franchise is, in one word, perplexing! I have yet to see the director's acclaimed masterpiece "Audition" but, until then, this is definitely my most favorite piece of his work! The themes and style here are totally different to, say, "Itchi the Killer" or "Fudoh", but it's disturbing and terrifying on entirely different levels. The story is macabre and definitely has an Asian folklore feel to it, but the torture sequences and perverted sub themes are typically Takashi Miike; meaning very explicit, shocking and on the verge of sickening. It's also a real pleasure to see the hugely underrated actor Billy Drago star in a glorious horror project again! He also appeared in the recent (and surprisingly great "The Hills Have Eyes"-remake), so here's to hoping that this charismatic actor is in the middle of making a successful comeback! Drago plays a mysterious American who travels through Japan all by himself to find the lost love of his life. He arrives on a crazy island where only prostitutes and their pimps live and discovers that the woman he loved passed away. Her sad story is told to him by a deformed whore who also has a lot of other peculiar revelations to share, each one more morbid and repellent than the other. "Imprint" was banned in the States for some obvious reasons, notably the incredibly unsettling torture scene in which a poor girl's fingers and gums are used as a pin-cushion! I'm used to a lot, but this particular part was really hard to watch. Other deeply shocking moments of the story include a brutal and detailed abortion sequence and the overall nihilistic attitude towards unborn humans. This short movie is beautifully made, with sublime camera-work and masterful make-up effects. Miike's directing is solid as a rock and proves that he truly deserves to be called a "Master of Horror". "Imprint" is often hard to watch but impossible to forget. Highly recommended!
Takashi Miike of "Audition" and "Ichi the Killer" fame directed this 13th episode of the Showtime series "Masters of Horror" - apparently it was never aired in the USA because the Showtime people were horrified at the episode, and probably with good reason. I like to think that Miike intentionally parodies "Memoirs of a Geisha", and "the last samurai" with this one. He combines the two in the story of a broken down American man who goes back to Japan to find the whore he fell in love with years before - the parallels with the serious movie "The Last Samurai" are unmistakable. The outlandish and over the top crazy costumes mimic the audacity of the costuming in "Memoirs of a Geisha", and the fact that this was done in English rather than Japanese only strengthens the parallels between "Imprint" and MoaG - and yet again Youki Kudoh (who was in Moag) makes an appearance, this time as a deformed prostitute. There are great lines such as "There is nothing on this island but demons and whores", and others less fit for print, but instant classics nonetheless. There are the classic Miike elements - violence, rogue abortions, murder, and incest, and a torture scene only outdone by Audtion. I couldn't give it a full 10 because Miike doesn't seem to work well with just a 1 hour window, and the plot doesn't make for a solid and clean short story, but fans of Miike should try to get their hands on this one, it is worth a look.
I spend way too many hours reading reviews on movies (and shows) on this site. Yet, I am addicted to it and thus continue on. Normally, I feel that good, bad or indifferent, any review is a good review as long as the reviewer actually watched the film. This short film was pretty good in my opinion, and enough has been written about it where I don't feel I can contribute any more on that level. however, I am disappointed that more of us are not outraged that Showtime commissioned Miike to make a show, then ban it. Showtime is a paid premium network (read ADULT) I could understand if it were broadcast television, which has strict guidelines because children shouldn't see graphic stuff like this. But as an adult in an adult situation, I am absolutely anti censorship and think it is total BS that Showtime could lame out... Nobody should watch any of the Masters of Horror series at all if you can't handle disturbing imagery!!! For the sake of movie fans that are responsible adults, let us make our own decisions regarding censorship, I am absolutely certain that plenty of people out there who are unfamiliar with Miike films shut off this story before the half way point, nice, neat and tidy self censoring. Thank you for not bowing to the interests of lame corporate sponsors.
In the Nineteenth Century, in Japan, the American journalist
Christopher (Billy Drago) is traveling through the country searching
Komomo (Michie), the missing love of his life that he had abandoned
years ago promising to come back to her later. He arrives in a shadowy
island inhabited by whores and caftans, where he has an encounter with
a deformed prostitute that tells that his beloved Komomo had passed
away. He drinks sake with her and later he asks the woman to tell the
story of her life. The prostitute discloses a dark and cruel story
about her life and the sad fate of Komomo.
The macabre "Imprint" is another disturbing and brutal movie of Takashi Miike. Using magnificent camera-work and impressive make-up in an awesome atmosphere, "Imprint" approaches gruesome and gore theme like abortion, fetus, incest, torture, perversions and abuse along 63 minutes running time of pure and sick horror with many twists. I confess that I felt uncomfortable and disturbed with the sadistic sequence of the torture of Komomo. Takashi Miike really honors the title of this series, being a Master of Horror. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Marcas do Terror" ("Marks of the Terror")
IMPRINT is Takashi Miike's entry into the cable TV series MASTERS OF HORROR, and the one entry to be banned from transmission (in the US that is). Its certainly an impressive entry. The story follows an American man as he travels to Japan to find the prostitute who he fell in love with and whom he made a promise to, to take back to America and marry. He meets another prostitute who recounts the story of the women he is looking for and what happened to her fate. Told in flashback the story takes a rashomon-like approach as the womens story becomes steadily unreliable, until she reveals the true side to her tale. Cue scenes of torture, abortion and also hints of incest and child abuse and general weirdness, that those familiar to Miike will expect. Its a generally well made, and beautifully filmed tale, though at times it felt like a sumnation of the best bits of Miikes work, mainly the excessive extreme films, such as ICHI, DEAD OR ALIVE and AUDITION. Though Miike is always an interesting director to watch and his entry into this otherwise excellent series, stands out as one of the best. In some ways you can see why it was banned from television!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's much to like about "Imprint", and I reject criticism that it doesn't know what it wants to be. It is, in fact, a sexually charged piece of ero-gro and easily Miike's best work since "Ichi The Killer". There are strong parallels with "Ichi" here right down to the grotesque make-up on the beaten girl and the central torture sequence (needles shoved into fingernails, gums and armpits). "Imprint" is so much more, though, and is a giddy visual feast with extraordinary location lensing and exquisite production design. Weakest link, for my money, is Billy Drago, who is merely passable as an American visitor to Japan who is searching for his lost love. Drago radiates little personality and fails to breathe life into his character due to his limited emotional range. Feeling like something Hideshi Hino might have written crossed with "Hanzo 2: The Snare", this sixty minute effort is both strikingly grotesque and terribly beautiful. Meriting special mention is a parade of aborted fetuses and related visual paraphernalia that recall Fruit Chan's brilliant "Dumplings". Although final revelation is a little undercooked and unnecessary, the effects are sure-footed and Miike delivers horror that is disturbingly, gleefully stark, as it should be.
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