Imprint (2006, 1 hr 3 mins)
I love Takashi Miike. He is behind Audition, one of the most disturbing horror films out there, so I was excited to see the Masters of Horror episode he directed called Imprint. The story takes place in the mid 19th century where Christopher (Billy Drago), arrives at an island whorehouse looking for his long-lost love. Instead he finds a disfigured prostitute (Youki Kudoh), who knows the fate of his love Kimomo (Michie). This storytelling prostitute has no name, but what she does have is a disturbing history that leads her to the “yukaku” where Kimomo befriends her. The prostitute tells of her betrayal to Kimomo and her weird “Total Recall” secret, which will haunt Christopher forever.
This film was bizarre, twisted, and in true Miike style, made me wince. Several times. He gives us a torture scene that is on par with the gruesome needle scene in Audition. I found Billy Drago’s performance to be a bit heavy-handed and melodramatic, but overall it was an interesting watch. The sets and costumes were really unique, and if you watch the extras, you’ll find that they are intentionally stylized to be somewhat fantastical. And yes, check out the extras. They are jam-packed with interesting tidbits about this production, for instance, most of the Japanese actors learned the english script phonetically since they did not speak English. And they did pretty well. Another cool fact is that the movie was adapted from the book Bokkei Kyotei by Shimako Iwai who also played the sadist in charge of the unforgettable torture.
I would buy this dvd for the documentary on Miike alone. He is fascinating and loves what he does. He comes off as very open-minded and he just wants to have fun. Directing gut wrenching torture and weird sexual perversions. And as long as his crew is happy and has a good time at work, who can find fault? Aside from most U.S. and European censors, that is…
Most Memorable Line: Two jail guards give Christopher a pitying look as he lays crumpled on his jail cell floor and one says “Jesus, get a whiff of that guy!” I only like the line because the actors didn’t speak a lick of english, and yet they nail it, even through their heavy accents.
Favourite Scene: I am not a nutjob, but the torture scene is burned in my memory. I’m still wondering where Miike got the um, inspiration for the torture and I’m floored by Shimako Iwai’s performance as the “torturer woman”. To know that this conservative looking writer pulled out all the stops and says she enjoyed the role shows that we all have a little, or a lot, of crazy just waiting to be released. I also liked the secret reveal with the nameless prostitute. I laughed but it creeped me out. Um, miss,…is that a flower in your hair? Oh Miike-san, you so crazy!!