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AKA Gokudô kyôfu dai-gekijô: Gozu (full Japanese title)
“INDIEWIRE INTERVIEWER: Are there any themes or images you find too upsetting or disturbing to show?
MIIKE: Normal things.”
DIRECTED BY: Takashi Miike
FEATURING: Yûta Sone, , Kimika Yoshino
PLOT: Minami is a journeyman yakuza whose boss Ozaki is going insane, and who has been ordered by higher-ups to see to it that he is killed. Since Ozaki once saved his life, Minami is conflicted about the assignment; but fortunately, an accident seems to take care of the problem for him. That is, until the presumptive corpse disappears while he is stopped in a strange town outside of Nagoya, and Minami launches a desperate search for his boss that leads him into a surreal labyrinth of malleable identities.
- Gozu was one of five movies the prolific Miike made in 2003.
- “Gozu” means cow’s head, and the full Japanese title translates literally as Grand Theatre of Perversion and Fear: Cow’s Head (sometimes translated as Yakuza Horror Theater).
- Like many of Miike’s films, Gozu was originally intended as a direct-to-video release. A successful Cannes screening got the movie noticed, and it was able to get wider theatrical distribution.
- Harumi Sone, who plays the small role of the Inkeepers Brother, is the father of star Yûta Sone, and the executive producer of the film. He brought the idea of casting his son in a yakuza film to Miike, though it’s reasonable to suspect he had a more traditional film in mind.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: In a film full of shocking imagery, the obscenely drooling cow-headed man who slowly approaches Minami to lick his face stands out.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Gozu may be the culmination of Miike’s “weird and perverted” phase, loaded with his particular fetishes and combining the two genres he works best in: horror and the yakuza (mobster) film. With its Eraserhead-like aura of personal alienation and fearsome psycho-sexual nightmares, bizarre identity shifts, and a cow-headed man as a mascot, Gozu‘s weirdness is never in doubt.
Japanese trailer for Gozu
COMMENTS: Sexual repression always makes a good base for a weird movie. Our libidos Continue reading 57. GOZU (2003)