Saturday, August 29, 2009

In short: Gakidama (1985)

aka The Tastiest Flesh

aka Demon Within

A newspaper sends a writer and a photographer with a special talent for shooting the really weird stuff into the woods to get a picture of a will-o'-the-wisp reported to appear there. The thing actually does appears, obviously lured in by the tasty treats the two have hung into the trees to attract it. During the photo action, the thing transforms into a worm and stealthily sneaks into the writer's ear.

The next three months of his life, he doesn't do much more than to eat and eat, and then eat some more, until he falls into a comatose sleep from which he - to the shock of his wife - only awakes when a gremlin-esque creature (here called a "ghoul") escapes through his mouth. Fortunately a strange man with a face mask is there to catch the little beast; unfortunately he let's the bugger escape without telling the couple about it.

In the following weeks, the writer will learn that he has now developed an addiction to eating the (cooked) flesh of these ghouls and his wife will have to cope with a classic zuni doll situation which can only end in pregnancy.

"Oh those wacky Japanese etc etc" are words that of course do apply here, as they do all too often where my movie watching politics are concerned. Apart from this - what we call "the obvious" - Gakidama is 54 minutes packed full of weird, blackly comical fun, with some slightly gross moments and more off-kilter ideas than most of us could use up in a two hour film.

That the photography is very nice and the main monster is a charming latex muppet seems somehow beside the point when you're talking about a short film that has the bizarre exuberance of a Kazuo Umezu manga, but there you go: the film's photography is in fact quite excellent and the muppet cute in a very toothy way.

It's all cobbled together from disparate elements most friends of genre films will recognize without my help, yet its Frankensteinian construction has a beauty all of its own. Just don't ask for explanations or a logic that isn't emotional and (at least partly) thematic. You won't get any, because the film has already jumped to the next idea, without looking back. And why shouldn't it?


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