Friday, October 7, 2011

Gakidama (1985)

... aka: Demon Within, The
... aka: Gakidama: Kanzen-ban
... aka: Tastiest Flesh, The
... aka: Tasty Flesh, The

Directed by:
Masayoshi Sukita

GREMLINS (1984), a Steven Spielberg production directed by Joe Dante, was hugely successful. In fact, up until recently it was one the five highest-grossing horror films of all time (and might still be when you adjust costs to factor in inflation). As with any other blockbuster, others became interested in cashing in, so we ended up with a new subgenre of deadly diminutive creature horror. Some of the films were even popular enough on their own to spawn their own lucrative franchises. The first of the copies was GHOULIES (1984), which had slimy demonic puppet monsters terrorizing some people at a mansion and was followed by three direct-to-video sequels in 1987, 1990 and 1993. There was also CRITTERS (1986) and its three sequels (the theatrical release CRITTERS II: THE MAIN COURSE in 1988 and two other d-t-v releases filmed back-to-back in 1991), HOBGOBLINS (1987), MUNCHIES (1987), BEASTIES (1989) and more. Beating most to these to the punch, though, was this little-seen Japanese effort (which is also known as THE DEMON WITHIN and THE TASTY FLESH), which turned out to be better than most of the other imitators.

Things begin with two men aboard a train; reporter Mr. Morioka (Kyôzô Nagatsuka) and Kitayan (Ichirô Ogura), a photographer who has built up a reputation for ghost. They arrive in a woodsy area to follow up on "hitodama" (ghost / demon) sightings and camp out there for the evening. They're awaken by sounds and capture a green light floating through the woods. The light rests on Mr. Morioka's shoulder, turns into a worm and crawls into his ear. The next day, he suddenly has an insatiable appetite. Upon returning home, he scarfs down bowl after bowl of rice and is caught by his wife (Kazuyo Matsui) in a trance-like state eating raw meat out of the fridge. Sores appear on his face, he becomes bloated and then vomits up / "gives birth to" a "gakidama;" a little ghoul larva demon creature with sharp claws and fangs. A mysterious man in a top hat and cape (amusingly played by Yôsuke Saitô), whose face is scarred up from giving life to one of these creatures himself, shows up to capture the monster in a bird cage.

The gakidama manages to escape, but sticks close by the Morioka's residence. It eats their pet birds, completely trashes their home and, while the husband is away, terrorizes the wife (who at first feels motherly toward the monster because she can't bear children of her own). She throws it against the TV and tries to drown it in the bathtub, but the little critter keeps on coming. Meanwhile, Mr. Morioka learns from the man-in-black that in order to regain his appetite, he must consume a gakidama. Kitayan also gets impregnated with one of the creatures.

It's a fairly well-made movie with good cinematography, more gore than most others of its type and fun special effects (some of the more charming ones feature the gakidama bouncing around in the street). It runs only 55 minutes and was released to DVD through Geneon Entertainment.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Gakidama' was weird and creepy. Hope they'll make a lot of sequels of this film soon.

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