Young female embalmer Miyako is called in to restore the body of a young man who has committed suicide, before the funeral. While performing the embalming process she finds herself pricks by a needle buried deep in the boy’s flesh where it should not be. During the night the head is removed from the body and stolen, Miyako begins a desperate search for it so she can finish her work. Miyako search finds her encountering organ harvesting, religious cults, incest, psychopathic schizophrenics as well as some very dark secrets from here own past.
EM Embalming, is one of those movies that does not really fit into any definable genre, art house with horror elements might be the best description, but it also dips in and out of many other genres at will, as is common with many movies from the east, having no respect for the rules Hollywood set in stone of the ability of stores and video libraries to put the film in an appropriate section. Directed by Cannes award winning director Shinja Aoyama and starring Reiko Takashima (Black Angel) as well as featuring a fabulous Dead Pan performance by Toshio Shiba as the mysterious man with a very dark past Dr Fuji.
Some people have been calling this a masterpiece and sure there is a lot to enjoy there, but I get many of these people have kind of gone oh well its foreign and glossy so it must be great. Actually what makes this film great for me is not the “art house” visuals and deep character study, but the fact that the plot is like some kind of warped “sunset beach” style soap opera on acid. With each new scene more and more ridiculous revelations are made about the various characters and there pasts as if the script is constantly trying to up the stakes and top itself for ridiculas revelations as the film moves forward. There where points where revelations that where meant to be dark and forbidding had me in stitches as fi (Who was also watching) and I waited for the director to through in kitchen sink wielding aliens.
So I guess your wondering about the notorious embalming scenes and if they are nasty (You freaks you), well yes while this is not a horror movie the subtle and cold embalming scenes are very nasty and very realistic as bits are hacked off, organs are scooped up and large needles are inserted …blood pours down the embalming table and things get nasty.
As with much art house it’s character study where this film really works (even though many of the character are ridiculous and there back story’s insane). Myko striving to “understand death” through her embalming. The crazy sect leader seeking to use needles to cure the insane, the worst cop in the world seeking to be constantly in Miyakos company, the twisted girl who seeks to revive her dead boyfriend, The fabulous Dr Fuji (he needs to return in his own film) and his dark past and the politician parents who seek only to preserve their honour.
I don’t want to give away much of the plot in the form of spoilers because it’s the insane plot which makes for the high point in this movie, but Dr Fugi and his specially equipped organ harvesting truck is certainly a high point to look out for.
This is the stuff cult movies are made of, there is no way it can appeal to the mainstream and even some cult movie fans will be put off by the art house sensibilities, but the art house style pretentiousness combined with a plot so ridiculous I am smiling as I think about it now makes this a movie many lovers of “Wierdsploitation” will see as a collection must.