January 21, 2006

Takashi Miike Too Much for Showtime

I came across an interesting story at the New York Times website (registration required). It seems that the pay cable station Showtime has canceled the episode "Imprint", directed by Japanese director Takashi Miike.

It would seem that Miike's extreme filmmaking has proven to be a bit much for the network. They will be replacing it with a collaboration between Clive Barker and John McNaughton entitled "Haeckel's Tale".

The Masters of Horror project began as a bi-monthly gathering of horror directors, they would get together for dinners and to talk about film. They decided that they would create an anthology series. With the backing of IDT Entertainment, they would each craft a one hour long, self contained film. These films would be free from outside influence, they would be given free reign as to what they wanted to do. These 13 films became the Masters of Horror series which debuted on Showtime back in October. A few of the directors involved are Don Coscarelli, Lucky McKee, John Carpenter, John Landis, Joe Dante, Stuart Gordon, Tobe Hooper, and Mick Garris.

Takashi Miike's tale, "Imprint", is based on the novel Bokkee Kyoutee by Shimako Iwai. It tells the story of an American journalist who returns to Japan to find a love left behind, and ends up dredging up a past better left covered.

Rather than compromise Miike-san's vision, the episode will not be edited or censored to meet any desires of Showtime's executives. It should be said that, at this point, Showtime has not requested any cuts or changes in order to air it. The episode has been announced as making its debut on DVD, along with the rest of the series next Fall.

This turn of events has made me very eager to see the show. Granted, I don't even have Showtime, and have only seen one episode of the series, when I was able to get a sneak peek at Don Coscarelli's episode, "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road." I don't want to wait for the DVD!

I became a fan of Takashi Miike's insane style a few years back when I discovered Audition, a twisted film about a man looking for a new wife. It started off as an interesting drama, but then switches gears into a descent into torture where nothing is what it seems. I have since seen a number of his other creations, most notably Ichii the Killer, Happiness of the Katikuris, Fudoh, and City of Lost Souls. That is just the tip of the iceberg with his film catalog, with an astounding 67 films to his name since he burst on the scene in 1991. He is nothing if not prolific. While not all are classics, he has crafted a number of great films which have been praised and lambasted by critics.

This "controversy" may be a non-issue, but it is rather interesting. Considering that this series is airing on commercial-free, pay cable, just what did Miike create that was so disturbing that they wouldn't air it? It has always been my understanding that these stations did not really have any limitations on their content. I guess this proves that theory is incorrect.

America is just not ready for the insanity that Takashi Miike can create. When will the powers that be think that we can look into the deepest heart of darkness without being sucked in?

Now, I command that all of you go forth and become enraptured by the gory insane depravity that Miike-san spews forth upon the unsuspecting public.


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