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Overall, Mick Garris' Masters of Horror series isn't living up to expectations. One of the reasons may be that most of the directors aren't Horror directors (as one of them will even tell you in his DVD extra commentary). While others are Horror movie directors, with only one or two under their belt, they can hardly be said to have "mastered" the form. And still others are there with the reputation of having directed the worst crap ever thrown at the screen. So to say that a movie in this series is the "Best of", is kind of a backhanded compliment. Instead, allow me to compare this cable TeeVee movie against actual Horror movies.
A lone white guy in a boat full of Asian men rides at night through the water. By their clothes we understand that this is some time ago, possibly the 1800s. The man's name is Christopher (Billy Drago: TREMORS 4, THE HILLS HAVE EYES ), an American journalist looking for a lost love. Years ago he swore that he'd return for his Komoko and for the past many years he has been doing just that. Tonight he journeys to a group of lake islands, home to whorehouses, in the hopes of finding his love. So great is his love that he doesn't even care that the brutal life of a single woman has led to her sexual slavery. If he finds her, he will kneel before her, beg her forgiveness, and take her to America to start life anew.
Unfortunately for him, his lead to Komoko's whereabouts brings him to a disfigured whore who tells him that his beloved Komoko is dead. At first enraged, he is soon overcome by sorrow. Stricken with grief, Christopher asks the disfigured prostitute (Youki Kudoh: SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE) to tell him how it happened. That she does in a tale that is full of too many holes to be quite true. Christopher demands that he be told the truth, and so the prostitute begins again in what becomes another of many stories, each more brutal than the last, each stripping away the fabrications of the previous tale until the final maddening horrible truth is at last revealed.
Director Takashi Miike (AUDITION) excels at this kind of story telling, though his films would be nothing without the excellent stories that drive them. And there Miike's true genius lies. Miike rarely writes his own stories, but finds them, knows them, and eventually comes to be the only one who can tell them. And believe me, there are a whole lot of people who can write their story, but very few of them can actually TELL their own story.
IMPRINT is based on the novel by Shimako Iwai who has developed a small following toward her period stories. The screenplay is by Daisuke Tengan (AUDITION), a director in his own right.
This is the Masters of Horror movie that was banned from cable TV. The reasons why are legendary. Too brutal is one, but that word lacks merit in comparison with some of the other episodes. The graphic display of abortion is another and there may be something to this. This is not the clean sanitized version of abortion that you get from the Planned Parenthood pigs. Nor is it the baby in the garbage that you get from the Anti-Abortion bombers. What this is, see, is writer Shimako Iwai's historically accurate version of abortion in ancient Japan. Where unborn babies are torn out of their screaming mother's womb on a dirt floor by an abortionist, like one would pull hairy gunk from a shower drain. The abortionist is too jaded and indifferent to care for any life - the child or the mother. The dead babies are then tossed into the river like so much fish guts and the abortionist plants a brightly colored fan on the bank, more for culture than for care of the dead baby's spirit.
Then again, if the many scenes of abortion didn't get IMPRINT banned, perhaps it is the torture scene. A young woman is stripped down and brutally tortured by her fellow whores, one of whom takes great pleasure in graphically burning her flesh, and driving needles into her fingertips and gum line.
Or if it wasn't the abortion scenes or the torture scenes, then maybe the reason this one got banned was for the graphic ... well, I don't want to give too much away. Lets just say that, while Takashi Miike is never one to flinch from graphic brutality in his horror movies, he also isn't one to sacrifice story for blood. The fact that all of this gruesome barbarity has a point is the most horrific thing of all.
Billy Drago is a fine actor and I know, I've seen him do it. But he didn't bring his chops to this film which is a pity. What's more, as good as Takashi directed the Japanese actors, he didn't work on bringing the best out of Drago. It's a two-way street.
Most of the Japanese actors in this film don't speak English, so their phonetic inflections can be a bit off. For me that only added to the exotic nature of this film, as I wouldn't expect 19th Century poverty stricken whores to be all that erudite in their own language, let alone a foreign one. Hell! You should hear my French some time! On second thought, you really don't want to.
Four Shriek Girls.
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