Masterminded by frequent Stephen King adaptor Mick Garris, the Showtime series Masters of Horror, which ran from 2005 to 2007, had a fairly simple premise: Give legendary horror directors a blank check to make whatever nightmare they wanted with no restrictions. However, when it came time to hand the baton off to infamous Japanese director Takashi Miike, who had catapulted onto the radar of western horror fans with the audacious and disturbing Audition a few years before, it turned out that there were some episodes that even Showtime wouldn't air.
"Imprint," the episode that Miike contributed to the Masters of Horror series, became an instant underground sensation when Showtime declined to include it in their lineup. While we don't know for sure why Showtime decided to pass on the episode, we can certainly hazard some guesses after watching it.
It Was From The Director Of 'Audition' And Other Extreme Horror Films
Prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike already had more than two dozen movies under his belt when he made his most infamous film, 1999's Audition, which launched him to international renown.
Miike's filmography includes over 100 movies across virtually every possible genre, including yakuza films, family-friendly films and live-action adaptations of manga and more. However, here in the States, he is most well-known as a director of extreme horror flicks.
Even Miike's most innocuous-seeming movies have a tendency to push boundaries, and in his horror films, he rarely pulls punches.
It Deals With Familial Interrelations, Abortion, And Aggressive Behavior
It seems like Showtime maybe should have known that they were biting off more than they could chew when they gave carte blanche to Takashi Miike. After all, his previous films had already been banned in several countries, and one particularly gruesome scene in Audition had become legendary among dedicated horror fans.
They certainly got more than they bargained for with "Imprint," which features skin-crawling sequences; however, it was probably some of the film's other thematic concerns that made Showtime squeamish.
"Imprint" grows more and more grotesque as it goes on, and deals heavily with abortion - even showing repeated images of fetuses floating down a river. Deformity, aggression, and familial interrelations make for difficult-to-watch cinema.
Comparatively, 'Imprint' Is Actually Tamer Than Some Of Miike's Other Works
Reading even a synopsis of something like Takashi Miike's Visitor Q or Ichi the Killer, it becomes clear that Miike is no stranger to transgressive and often shocking storytelling. While "Imprint" may have been too controversial for Showtime, it is actually tame in comparison to some of the other films Miike has produced.
There are gore, taboo subjects and grotesque images in "Imprint;" however, as Meagan Navarro points out at Bloody Disgusting, Miike "consistently tried to check himself to make sure he wasn’t going over the line of what American television would allow."
The Memorable Lead Role Is Played By Character Actor Billy Drago
Love it or hate it, it's hard to ignore the lead role in "Imprint." Late character actor Billy Drago turned in a boozy, wobbling performance that Ed Gonzalez of Slant called "embarassing."
Drago's previous film credits ranged from well-known westerns and gangster films, such as Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider and The Untouchables, to appearances in cult genre fare like Vamp, China White, Tremors 4, and a couple of Mirror, Mirror sequels.
He often played villains, and appeared in several Chuck Norris movies, including Invasion U.S.A., Delta Force 2, and Hero and the Terror. He also had recurring roles on the TV series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Charmed.