Quentin Tarantino's Beloved Body Snatcher From Hell
"Goke: Body Snatcher From Hell"
By Marc Savlov,
9:54AM, Fri. Mar. 7, 2008
According to his giddy, thoroughly contagious, prescreening happyrant, Zack Carlson, mad genius programmer for the Alamo Ritz's free, weekly "Terror Thursdays" midnight shock-show screenings, "the best Japanese horror movie ever made, ever, period" screened last night to a packed house of curious, wind-whipped-but-pleasantly-blotto film fans. And wouldn't you know? You missed it! (Not to worry. It shows up on TCM at 4 in the morning from time to time.)
We're speaking, of course, of Hajime Sato's righteously superweird 1968 masterpiece "Goke: Body Snatcher From Hell," which, true to Zack's enthusiasm, was one of the finest examples of sixties-era, J-Horror what-the-fuckery we've ever seen, chockablock with mind-searing, super-surreal optical effects, charmingly over-the-top acting, above-average dubbing, sexualized facial disfigurements (Goke, the forerunner of a massive alien invasion, looks like nothing so much as "The Blob"'s smaller, more iridescent offspring and leaves a distressingly vaginal-entry wound in the noggins of the snatched), and, to top it all off, a pointed anti-war theme that hammers it pax-infected point home with all the subtlety of Ishiro Honda making a last-ditch, sake-fueled pass at your little sister while wearing nothing but the bottom half of the "Yog: The Monster From Space" suit and a drunken leer. (We've all been there, right?) But, hey, slow down, what's up with the Tarantino reference in you header? we hear you cry. Turns out that QT lifted (borrowed? stole? does it matter?) an entire, uncut shot from "Goke" and inserted it into "Kill Bill Vol. 1" as an homage and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it aside to J-horror genre fans. And that would be the patently fake exterior-miniature shot of the Japan Airlines plane that flies Beatrix Kiddo to meet her destiny in the Land of the Rising Sun. That's right: the shot with the plastic model effects aircraft slicing through an optically-altered cloud bank tinted an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, candy-colored orange. Straight from *Goke: Body Snatcher From Hell* to QT to the Alamo Drafthouse at The Ritz, and from there into my brain where even as we type this, it scratches and scars like, um, like a "Cat in the Brain," as Lucio Fulci would doubtless say. (Or to quote Zack's non-hyperbolic exhultation, "Fuck yeah!") Genius comes in many forms, and one of them is apparently an alien-possessed Yakuza assassin with a vagina in his forehead. Truly, this is the best of all possible worlds! [One notable aside: The famous "skullface" image used in "Goke"'s ad campaign and currently grinning at you from off of the Alamo's official "Terror Thursdays" T-shirt, is -- bizarrely in a film predicated on the bizarre -- nowhere to be seen in the actual film itself. Again I say, "WTF?"] So that was our SXSW kickoff. Top it. We dare you, foolish *gaijin* earthling.