Tuesday, January 20, 2009
REVIEW: Goke: Body Snatcher from Hell
吸血鬼ゴケミドロ (Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro)
Running time: 84 min.
Reviewed by Bob Turnbull
"I think we're in for something that will blow our minds"
So says one of the characters in Hajime Sato's 1968 Horror/Sci-Fi film "Goke: Body Snatcher From Hell". And if your mind doesn't quite get blown, it may be a bit warped by the end.
The movie opens with a lurid sky of red and orange as the backdrop for a plane in flight (blood red according to the pilot). Within the next few minutes we learn of a recent assassination of a British ambassador in Japan (who was trying to bring peace to Southeast Asia), see a bird have a bloody run in with the window of the plane and learn of a possible suicide bomber on board. You have to like a film that just dives right into things...We then meet the main characters - a politician, his wife, a weapons manufacturer, a psychiatrist, a young blonde American woman, the co-pilot and stewardess. Oh, the assassin AND suicide bomber are along for the trip too.
The plane crashes after a close call with a UFO and our main characters are the sole survivors. But they aren't getting along so well. There's great tension in the air that is exacerbated by the lack of water and made even worse when they find out via the radio that they are left for dead since search and rescue have no idea where they are - the plane has simply disappeared. Compounding things, the assassin runs off with the stewardess as a hostage. They quickly stumble upon the alien craft and its glowing bright light. In the most effective scene in the movie, he walks up to the light and his face suddenly splits open before being taken over by blue alien goo.
Of course now he starts picking off the other passengers in order to suck out all their blood. What else did you expect?
As mentioned above, the film doesn't waste its time in moving into the plot. It's all pretty silly, but it's fun and it's well made and shot. Lighting is effective with blues and oranges dominating and some fine use of shadows. The effects are solid for this type of movie and the acting is, um, what you would expect for this type of movie...Yeah, it's over the top mostly, but it works if you watch it in the right mood.
A few political potshots are taken on top of everything else - more UFO sightings have occurred since the dropping of the bomb and alien landings are easier now since our planet is more susceptible to being dominated due to all the wars we've had. Vietnam also gets name checked (the American woman has just lost her husband in that war). It's not an overly subtle message and neither is the caricature of the politician - "Humanism! Just what we need!" is one of his best lines. Given all this, the ending of the film is perfect.
This doesn't appear to be on region 1 DVD, but it just played recently on TCM so perhaps it'll show up in the near future.
Read more from Bob Turnbull at his blog.