Takashi Miike really knows how to make intriguing and bizarre films including The Audition, Visitor Q and Ichi the Killer. He could easily be described as a director who makes things that aren’t for the squeamish. However he has made episodes of Ultraman Max along with other family fun fare. He has an amazing range. So it could be hard to predict his approach to a movie about actors rehearsing a stage adaptation of a classical Japanese ghost story. This could be a version of A Chorus Line with Kabuki Theater as the backdrop? That could be right, if the cast of A Chorus Line were auditioning for Saw: The Musical.
“Ghost Story Of Yotsuya” is being rehearsed on a rather sophisticated revolving set. There’s a bit of tension since leading lady Miyuki Goto (Ko Shibasaki) has cast her latest boyfriend (Ebizo Ichikawa) in a major part. The backstage cat fighting has him not well loved. However quite a few of the other actors have the hots for Miyuki. The actors do lose a sense of themselves as they become fused with their characters. There is a bit of a feeling that they are possessed by the ghosts that lurk in the source material. The ghosts take possession of more than the people. A stage prop has a spooky turn that makes it rival The Conjuring in the unsuspecting gasp effect from viewers. The vision gets confusing as stage craft blurs into pure nightmares. Ultimately the question that comes from watching the cast rehearse is not if they’ll be ready for opening night, but if they’ll survive out of town previews.
Miike has created a world where the viewers get a taste of an extreme adaptation of a traditional Japanese ghost story. He opens up the play to not only give it a cinematic feel, but a transcendent spectral quality. When the extreme moments evolve on the screen, it’s hard to grasp if they are nightmares or reality pushed by elements that escaped from nightmares. The movie plays like an exquisite fever dream as it gets deeper into the material.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The high resolution image brings out the darkness in the stage production. The audio is Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. There’s also an English dub in case you don’t want to read the screen and just absorb the evolving madness. The movie is subtitled in English.
Trailer (2:03) which is included down below.
Over Your Dead Body is a phantasmagorical tale of what can go wrong during a stage rehearsal of a haunted play.
Scream Factory presents Over Your Dead Body. Directed by: Takashi Miike. Screenplays by: Kikumi Yamagishi. Starring: Ichikawa Ebizō XI & Kō Shibasaki. Rated: Not Rated. Running Time: 94 minutes. Released: January 5, 2016.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.