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Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

Posted by martinteller on May 6, 2013

A plane crashes in some remote area when the instruments go haywire.  The survivors are the co-pilot (Teruo Yoshida), a flight attendant (Tomomi Satô), an assassin who was trying to hijack the plane at the time (Hideo Kô), an American woman (Kathy Horan) en route to retrieve the remains of her husband who died in Vietnam, a politically ambitious senator (Eizô Kitamura), a defense contractor (Nobuo Kaneko) and his wife (Yûko Kusunoki), a cold and clinical psychiatrist (Kazuo Katô), and a guy who wanted to blow up the plane (???… not even credited in Criterion’s packaging).  The hijacker takes the flight attendant as a hostage and leaves, but they run into a flying saucer.  The hijacker is mysteriously drawn to it… his forehead splits open, some cosmic goo enters the wound, and he becomes a vampire.  Aliens want to take over the planet, and I guess this is the best method they could come up with.

This movie is pretty nutty.  The acting is often atrocious and the script takes itself far too seriously, but once a guy’s head splits open (looking not unlike female genitalia, for whatever that’s worth) and purple shaving cream worms its way in there, you’re on board for the ride.  There’s a lot of not-very-subtle commentary on war, but the red flashes of snapshots from Vietnam make for an unusual, surprising technique.

Basically the film is saying we all deserve whatever’s coming to us.  Most of the passengers end up turning on each other and being awful people.  The defense contractor is pimping out his wife to the senator as a bribe, the psychiatrist wants a human sacrifice so he can study the phenomenon, the hijacker is… well, he kills people for a living, so that’s not very nice.  Many of them end up locking the others out of the plane at one time or another.

There’s an obvious Invasion of the Body Snatchers influence, but it’s done with style.  The special effects range from kinda laughable to actually sort of impressive.  And the film is surprisingly well edited and structured, and there a lot of weird touches like the birds flinging themselves against the windows.  A fun, oddball movie.  Rating: Good (73)


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