GOKE: BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL (1968) Reviews and overview

 

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‘A fiendish vampire from a strange world in outer space drains his victims’ blood and turns them into weird corpses!’

Goke: Body Snatcher from Hell – 吸血鬼ゴケミドロ Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro – is a 1968 Japanese science fiction horror film directed by Hajime Sato and released by Shochiku studios. It has recently been released as part of a When Horror Came to Shochiku Criterion DVD box set.

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The film is perhaps best known in the United States for its influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1: in the scene where The Bride flies to Japan, the deliberately artificial shots of the airliner flying in front of the backdrop of an orange sky were based on images from Goke. 

Plot:

Air Japan flight JA307 is en route from Tokyo to Osaka. As stewardess Kuzumi Asakura (Tomomi Sato) announces the flight plan, the pilot notices an unusual red colour to the sky around them.

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The passengers also see bloody birds flapping their wings against the plane’s windows. The pilot (Hiroyuki Nishimoto) receives a radio message stating there may be a bomb aboard. Co-pilot Sugisaka (Teruo Yoshida) checks each passenger’s bags.

All the bags are cleared but one man (Hideo Ko) had no bag. Kuzumi notices an unaccompanied suitcase under a bench. He opens it and finds a rifle. The man suddenly pulls a gun and orders the pilot to fly to Okinawa. To show he means business, he shoots out the plane’s transistor radio, just as it was breaking the news about a UFO over Japan.

Suddenly, a luminous object appears directly in front of the airplane. It passes overhead but knocks out the airplane’s controls, causing it to crash on an uncharted desert isle.

Sugisaka wakes up to find the pilot and hijacker are both dead. However, the hijacker suddenly sits up, grabs Kuzumi and runs out into the jungle. When the others pursue him they come upon the luminous spaceship. Kuzumi hides, but the hijacker steps into a clearing.

He goes blank and start shuffling toward the spaceship. A dark blob oozes towards the hijacker, whose forehead is suddenly split wide open, causing Kuzumi to scream and pass out…

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Reviews:

“An apocalyptic freakout masterpiece, Sato fills every frame of Goke with garish colors, creepy imagery, a pervading feeling of dread throughout and populates it with unsavory characters that offer no relief whatsoever. The effects work though crude, are very effective with the aforementioned head splitting moment being an image you will not soon forget. The actors give it their all with closeups of sweaty, buldgy eyed, panic stricken mugs being the norm here.” Fruitless Pursuits

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Honestly, the best possible presentation for this movie would probably be as part of a triple feature with two other movies from 1968, Night of the Living Dead and Planet of the Apes. Like those better known films, Goke is at some level a deceptively serious and incredibly pessimistic meditation on the inability of human beings to rise above their limitations, and it has a nasty sucker-punch in the final act.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

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” …most of the “action” consists of debates between the angry unlikeable characters on the wrecked plane, gore effects come too infrequently, and the simplistic “war is bad” message is repeated ad nauseum […] Yet when the effects come they are very good.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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