Billy Drago, Youki Kudoh. Fond memories of a woman of the street he had loved and deserted years previously in 19th century Japan, an American reporter gets back to find her and instead discovers an unspeakable problem so cruel and perverse that much of it could not be aired on Showtime's Masters of Horror program. This new DVD records every gory, uncut minute of it. 2006/color/63 min/NR.
"Have I got your interest, mister?" By the time you reach this line in Takashi Miike's Imprint
, the response will be a resounding, horrified "Yes!" This much-rumored-about episode of Showtime's Masters of Horror
series ended up being well-known as the first installation to be rejected an airing. Now that the hour-long episode is out on DVD, it's not difficult to see why the network balked (although on the other hand, if you have a series called Masters of Horror
and you hire the outrageous Takashi Miike to helm a program, no one needs to truly be shocked). The story follows an American (Billy Drago) on a trip to a ghostly island bordello in Japan; he's looking for a girl he lost years prior to. The woman of the street he meets has stories to tell-- and they are plentiful in incest, abortion, murder, and one of the grisliest abuse scenes ever produced for a mainstream outlet.
Anybody knowledgeable about Miike's movies (Audition, Visitor Q) understands a couple of aspects of him: (1) there is no affront against civilized behavior he will not place on movie, and (2) he's a heckuva filmmaker. Imprint confirms this, on both counts. The only weak spot is the English dialogue reading by the Japanese cast-- and by Billy Drago, for that matter, although he does look really cool. The story may or may not make good sense, but what stays with you are the pregnant, eye-filling images (cinematography by Toyomichi Kurita) and the really shocking violence. It is truly what the Masters of Horror series appears created to do: offer a director total liberty to merge design with story. Take this to heart, oh ye of low nausea limits: Imprint will seriously mess you up. -- Robert Horton