TOP FIVE VIOLENT, BIZARRE AND GORY MIIKE TAKASHI FLICKS!
For as long as I can remember, Miike Takashi has been my favourite filmmaker. He has continuously enticed me with his extreme use of violence, bizarre narratives, creative, gory visuals, and kick-ass action. I also really love how it is almost a given for Miike’s films to come with a warning label, a ‘this film may disturb some viewers,’ type of spiel.
To celebrate the screening of the brutal Lesson of the Evil at the Melbourne International Film Festival, I present to you my top five violent, bizarre and gory Miike flicks. I wish I could include every film, but, nevertheless, here is a small taste of his work that is essential for any self-confessed horrorphile, or for those interested in violent cinema. Revel in the carnage, comrades!
In 2006, Imprint was scheduled to premiere during the first season of Showtime’s Masters of Horror. The episode never aired due to concerns over disturbing and graphic content. Later that year, Imprint was released on DVD for all us horror fiends to consume with delight and, well, what can I say? It is difficult to choose one highlight from this gem! So, I’m going to list a few moments that made me squirm, wince, cry out, and freeze in spine-tingling shock.
I’ll begin with the scenes of torture inflicted upon poor Komomo, a prostitute with a heart of gold and a face that inspires envy amongst the elder-whores. Komomo is bound, gagged, and forced to suffer through tortures inflicted by incense sticks and needles. The slow insertion of the sharp metal under Komomo’s fingernails was horrific. Then, as Komomo screams in agony, her mouth is forced open, and in the needles go. With six needles in her mouth, one for every finger, and strung from the ceiling, she looks like a distorted piñata, or a human pincushion. As her mouth gaped open I was reminded of the nightmares I get in the lead up to a dental appointment. Painful.
The film also contains fucked-up scenes involving aborted foetuses being thrown into murky water, and all the while the narrator, a semi-deformed prostitute with a parasitic twin called ‘Little Sis’, recounts all sorts of sadistic shit. Imprint sure does leave an impression.
This film is so kick-ass! It follows the lives of students at Suzuran Senior High School as they dabble in schoolyard politics. Okay, maybe not dabble. More like completely obsess over. They don’t just use a manipulative manner of speech to get what they want – words don’t even come into it. Violence is the main, nay, the only political maneuver employed by these kids.
The boys (‘crows’) in this high school fight for the chance to reign supreme over the student body. There are endless brawls, all of which are spectacular and flawlessly executed. With a punk rock soundtrack, rockin’ hairstyles and clothing, derelict buildings covered in graffiti and students being beaten bloody, this struggle for authority is effin’ bad-ass and completely unrestrained.
While the children play at being yakuza, the yakuza grown-ups have their own battles in grimy alleyways. I have a huge soft spot for broken, filthy, decaying environments, and Crows Zero delivers. The gore is more realistic than most of Miike’s other stuff, probably because the fights all contain a violent realism that is difficult to ignore. It is tough to choose which brawl is my favourite (there are just so damn many) but it would have to be the final, epic face-off in the hammering rain, with flailing limbs, upbeat tunes, and beaten, muddy bodies. Yeah, “Eternal rock ’n’ roll!”
I know it’s not a film, but MPD Psycho is just too brilliant for me to exclude from this list. A six-part television mini series, it follows a former detective that develops multiple personality disorder after the murder of his wife. He runs around with gun in hand, seeking revenge. Throughout the series, his name changes along with his personality. The whole experience is quite bizarre and surreal and the show contains a dream-like quality that is often compared to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.
As the series develops, there are frequent killings, all of which are committed in the wackiest of ways. Featuring cult members with barcodes tattooed on their eyeballs, dead bodies transformed into pot-plants, babies forcefully torn from the womb, a mass suicide of forty schoolgirls, severed limbs scattered in a field, bodily combustion that creates chaos at the local burns unit, and a bloody showdown in a seedy looking corridor – MPD Psycho is a trip down into that little dark, twisted, niche within our souls.
“One… two… three… four!”
With that, we are thrown into Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha. The opening credits feature the following: strippers, cocaine, neon-lit street signs, extreme noodle consumption, motorcycles, sex in a dirty bathroom, blood spraying over the tiles of said bathroom, a shoot-out, the physical explosion of the glutton who ate all those noodles, and a shady looking character with a shotgun slung over his back. Yes, we are in for one hell of a ride.
The violence in this film is inescapable, but so much fun. Later, there is a shoot-out in a restaurant, where chicken feathers go flying, hands get battered and deep-fried (tasty) and the floor gets… well, painted with blood (it will seriously take a hell of a long time to clean that one up). Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the bodies laid out side-by-side, sort of like sashimi. Even later, we are lucky to witness a demonstration on the power of explosives, with a car used as the main prop. Then comes the long awaited showdown, at dusk, where we observe even greater explosions, flying cars, an arm torn from a body, a shoot-out, and even a fricken’ bazooka. Absolutely riveting!
Okay, okay. I know you guys were expecting this one. The one that is included in every list of essential violent and disturbing films. Highly controversial, Ichi the Killer has been banned outright in some countries (such as Malaysia and Norway), and has been cut for distribution in many others. This film is a perfect example of Miike’s use of extreme, sadomasochistic violence.
The first six minutes is almost enough to satisfy a lust for gore and violent spectacle: The film’s title is spelt out in cum, a prostitute is beaten to a pulp, there are blood-soaked walls, organ-laced floors, and dripping red ceilings. These opening scenes not only set the tone for the film, but also encourage us to answer a very important question: Do we really want to enter this world? The little horror freak inside responds, “Of course!” even though our rational, sensible side may encourage us to run. Luckily, I don’t have a shred of sensibility.
The remainder of the film is an absolute hoot. With boots that contain hidden blades, excruciating close-ups of a tongue being mutilated, suspended bodies, bodies being split in two, cut-off faces sliding down walls, severed limbs, and much more besides, Ichi the Killer treads a gore-ridden path of destruction. A moment of dialogue, uttered by Kakihara, actually sums up the viewing experience perfectly: “Your mind is in chaos. You are truly demented.”