Fiction begins to bleed into reality for actors (Ebizo Ichikawa, Ko Shibasaki, Hideaki Ito) as they rehearse a stage production of a classic Japanese ghost story.Fiction begins to bleed into reality for actors (Ebizo Ichikawa, Ko Shibasaki, Hideaki Ito) as they rehearse a stage production of a classic Japanese ghost story.Fiction begins to bleed into reality for actors (Ebizo Ichikawa, Ko Shibasaki, Hideaki Ito) as they rehearse a stage production of a classic Japanese ghost story.
Being a fan is a challenging business. For horror lovers, we like to say we are "John Carpenter fans" or "Wes Craven fans". And these are bold statements, because then you find yourself in a position where you have to defend the worst films these legends have made. Yes, although it is painful to say it, even Carpenter and Craven have made bad movies.
This becomes even more complicated with Takaski Miike, the only modern Japanese master of horror. He is incredibly prolific, meaning few have seen everything he does, and he has something of a wider range, not always sticking close to the horror genre. Even those who would be considered fans may appreciate some films more than others: "Audition", "Visitor Q" and "Ichi the Killer" are three big ones, and have almost nothing in common.
And now we have "Over Your Dead Body", the first film (to my knowledge) to be released by Scream Factory. What sort of Miike fan will this appeal to? We have a samurai story, some gore, and something of a story-within-a-story. Nothing as perverse as "Q", as violent as "Ichi", or as iconic as "Audition". And yet, this may be the most stylish Miike film yet, with possibly his best color palette to date. (I use "may be" and "possibly" simply because I have not seen every Miike film -- he has released a staggering 100 films in only a 25-year span!) Star Ko Shibasaki may be familiar to Japanese horror fans for her roles in "Battle Royale" and "One Missed Call". She has primarily worked in Japan, but did appear alongside Keanu Reeves in "47 Ronin". This film (Dead Body) is quite possibly her darkest yet, and although few Japanese actors become "horror icons", she ought to be considered one after this film. One scene clearly seems reminiscent of the controversial parts in Miike's "Imprint" (2006).
What is most striking about "Dead Body" is the shift of themes and tones. In the first half, we have a conventional story of two lovers who cannot be married because the potential bride's father disapproves. This sort of story could have come from Ozu or one of the other Japanese masters. And then things get increasingly strange, until we are firmly in Miike territory. (Again, not as strange as "Visitor Q", but still highly unconventional.) For those who love a nice slow burn, this is a great film with some decent gore and striking imagery. The Scream Factory blu-ray is, unfortunately, lacking in special features. The disc does have both English and Japanese audio, however, so whether you prefer subtitles or voiceovers, you will be able to watch in your preferred format. (If you speak Japanese, this works out even better and you avoid both.)
- Feb 12, 2016