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Film Review - Gozu: Grand Theatre of Perversion and Fear: Cow's head

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It’s amazing the number of milky white fluids there are in this movie.

My friends and I used to have a weekly Fucked-Up Film night. Each week, one of us would bring something to the table new to the others, and when it was done, would shout, “Top THAT!”

This was how we discovered Holy MountainInland EmpireForbidden ZoneJesus Christ Vampire Hunter, and Gozu.

Gozu was the last one. No one could top it.

Director Takashi Miike has been called the Japanese David Lynch. I can see that. Parts of Gozu are as teeth-clenchingly disturbing as Eraserhead, and as confusing as Mulholland Drive. Of course, this is served up Japanese-style, and we know how weird that can be at the best of times.

Reportedly, this movie has mythic elements, a retelling of Japanese mythology: a modern-day Japanese Ulysses (I don’t even know if I mean the Greek myth or the inpenetrable novel by james Joyce). More fucked-up than America’s version, O Brother, Where Art Thou?  Waaaay more.

Let me try to give you an idea:

The protagonist is Minami, a junior Yakuza who is ordered by the boss of his Yakuza crew to take Ozaki, an older Yakuza “brother,” to a Yakuza disposal grounds in the backwater town of Nagoya. Presumably to be killed.

You see, Ozaki is bug-nuts insane, which is bad for business. In an early scene, Ozaki claims a chihuahua is a trained killer of Yakuza, and procedes to batter it to death, finally swinging it around his head on its leash and splatting it against the window.

On the way to Nagoya, there is an accident, and Ozaki is killed. Minami tries to bring him to Nagoya anyway, but once in the town, the body of Ozaka mysteriously disappears. The locals prove unhelpful, and increasingly bizaare.

On his quest to recover Ozaki’s body, Minami meets a trio of transvestites who run a restaurant, and who, it is implied, jerk off into the food. He meets a half-albino who seems to want to stay cuddled up to him. A Yakuza boss who riddles like Gollum in the cave. An old woman who clearly wants in his pants (especially after she spies him bathing, and says he has a “Fine and Dandy” unit), and who tries to get him to drink her breast milk.

And then it gets weird.

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And they all lived happily ever after.

You’re welcome for the nightmares.

This movie doesn’t exist because it’s fun to watch. No, what’s fun about it is inflicting it on your friends. Watch them slowly come to realize just what you’ve done to them.

I’m sure they’ve done something you want to get back at them for.

Gozu: (極道恐怖大劇場 牛頭 GOZU, Gokudō kyōfu dai-gekijō: Gozu, literally: Grand Theatre of Perversion and Fear: Cow’s Head) (2003) Japanese, directed by Takashi Miike.

S. Maddix