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Embalming (2004)

Shinji Aoyama  |  Unrated |  DVD
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: Shinji Aoyama
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Arts Magic
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2005
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009NSDZC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,806 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Exclusive 20 Minute Interview with Director Shinji Aoyama
  • Feature Length Commentary with Jasper Sharp, co-author of "91The Midnight Eye Guide To New Japanese Film"
  • 6 In-depth Filmographies/Biographies for Cast & Director

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A needle found embedded in the body of an apparent suicide leads embalmer Miyako (Reiko Takashima) to believe that there may be more to this death than meets the eye. And when the corpse’s head is severed and stolen, Miyako begins her journey through a nightmare world of live organ harvesting, religious sects, multiple personalities, illegal drug experiments and murder... Cannes award-winning director Aoyama bloodies his arthouse hands in this extremely gory investigation into the illusions that make up society.

Review

"A CLINICAL, NECROTOMIC HORROR" -- THE SF, HORROR & FANTASY FILM REVIEW

"A GRAND GUIGNOL OF INCEST & FRATRICIDE, ALL DELIVERED IN A DEADPAN, SARDONIC STYLE." -- http://www.filmmonthly.com/

"FRANKENSTEIN MEETS PSYCHOANALYTIC ACUPUNCTURE!" -- http://www.foutz.net/

"REFRESHINGLY ORIGINAL... THERE ARE PLENTY OF TWISTS TO KEEP YOU GUESSING UNTIL THE END" -- http://www.sci-fi-online.com/

"WITH GREAT MAKE-UP FX & AN ORIGINAL STORYLINE, EMBALMING DELIVERS THE BLOODY GOODS, AND THEN SOME." -- http://www.zombiekeeper.com/

Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You Might Want To Pass This One Up! September 19, 2007
"Embalming," is not only a terrible film, but it is also dismal and depressing. In the beginning of the film, the viewer is given a history about the practice of embalming. Why it is practiced in the West? And why is it embraced by so few in the East? Many philosophical areas are explored in the film, and quite frankly, I stopped really caring after the first 30 minutes. Those who like a lot of gore in their films, however, will probably like this film. However, those who like the creepy nuances and suggestion of horror in their thrillers will probably be wise to look elsewhere.

I almost got the impression that Director Shinji Aoyama did not really want a good and suspenseful plot, but rather a convoluted thriller mixed with a lot of gore. This is simple enough to do--witness all of the terrible horrors and thrillers on the market today. It is much more difficult to create a film where the active imagination of the viewer is given glimpses of terror, and the suggestion or nuances of terror that really define a good thriller or horror are then introduced. Which is why so many horror, suspense, and thrillers fall flat for me.

The film stars an embalmer named Miyako (Reiko Takashima) who has aspired her whole life to be a great embalmer. This due to the fact that her mother was embalmed in the USA, and she still harbors memories of her mother in her casket with the look of one who is asleep. For her, the duty of an embalmer is to make the body as perfect as possible. Yet, there has been a suicide of a young man that will take her to the extreme dark recesses of the human soul. Plus, factor in the lengths others will go to in order to see that she does not succeed in her professional occupation will test her.

Enter, Jion.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tad convoluted, and a little under-budgeted... May 12, 2006
By Shaun
Embamingu is a murder mystery/thriller-esque film where a high school student named Yoshiki Shindo, (Masatoshi Matsuo; he plays Toshio Yabe three years later in Kyoshi Kurosawa's Kairo), who mysteriously falls from a building and dies. We join the film as Detective Hiraoka (Yutaka Matsushige) is surveying the scene from the rooftop. He calls a friend, who happens to be the local hospital's embalmer, Miyako Murakami (Reiko Takashima) to witness a freshly dead body, which for some reason she has wanted. Miyako's morbid fascination aside, the skeptical detective prefers to treat the case as a murder and thus begins the long, winding road into EM: Embalming.

In short order we're treated to an up close and personal look at the embalming process as Miyako and her assistant (a role deftly handled by fellow director Seijun Suzuki; Pistol Opera) poke and prod the life-like corpse with scalpels and heavy machinery designed to empty and replace the body's blood supply. A powerful local Buddhist Chief named Jion inserts himself into the fray on behalf of Yoshiki's family to denounce the embalming process as sacrilege, completely against Buddhist Doctrine. But Jion's motives are less than honorable or straightforward. He attracts much attention after Yoshiki's head is stolen off of the body, which is still at the hospital. And one of Yoshiki's girlfriends, who had serious issues of her own, becomes a player in the game when she turns up, first at the crime scene, and then with what appears to be Yoshiki's doppleganger. Things really get complex when Detective Hiraoka follows up on a tip concerning the trafficking of human body parts and a reclusive, discredited surgeon named Mr. Fuji is implicated in the illegal trafficking.

How and why was the son of a powerful city councilman killed?
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3.0 out of 5 stars Odd, but interesting, arty gore film. November 1, 2007
EM (Embalming) (Shinji Aoyama, 1999)

An odd little film, this, Shinji Aoyama (Desert Moon)'s foray into the extreme-horror movement. Embalming, if I am to understand correctly, is not as ubiquitous in Japan as it is in America, and so there's probably going to be some culture clash involved for American viewers; that said, if you accept the premise, it's not a bad little story at all.

Miyako (The Black Angel's Reiko Takashima) is an embalmer tasked to work on the body of a schoolboy who killed himself. The family, and especially their spiritual leader, are unhappy with this, believing that embalming the body will prevent it from being able to be reborn (think Judgment Day here, American viewers). The body's head is severed and stolen, and Miyako must figure out what happened to it. The closer she gets to solving the mystery, the weirder things get.

First off, be warned: for a Japanese gore film, Embalming is light on the gore; there are a select few scenes that would likely get it an R rating were it to go through the MPAA, but the majority of the film is a straight mystery (albeit with very bent surroundings). So if you're just expecting a good mystery, this should be right up your alley. It becomes easy to narrow down the list of suspects, but everyone involved is so all-fired weird that you simply can't pin one down until you get to the end. It's a competently-done guessing game, the kind of thing that's an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half. Give it a shot, see what you think. ***
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