Today’s selection: Gakidama (1985, dir. Masayoshi Sukita)
Subgenre: Body Horror, Kaibutsu
Available from: fansub-only
Gakidama is Tsuburaya’s entry into the whole “little humanoid monster” genre that Gremlins and Ghoulies made popular in the mid 1980’s. It’s an effective, hour-long picture about a photographer who goes into the woods on a work-assigned mandate looking for ghosts, only to actually see a real one. The spirit turns into a worm and crawls into his ear, unbeknownst to the poor journalist. Later, he starts getting sick during the night and coughs up a ball of flesh, which starts moving around on its own, generally weirding out the poor dude’s wife. A mysterious scarred up dude bursts onto the scene, stating that the same thing had happened to him (hence the mouth scars), and that he’ll fight the Gakidama (a sort of larval ghost) while our hero should go to the hospital. Things seem calm for a while, until the Gakidama reappears to menace the photographer’s wife…
This is a gory, practical-effect-filled horror romp of the style only found in the 1980’s. Despite being a trend-follower in the genre, it manages some original ideas, impressive puppetry, and tense stalking scenes (which is more than can be said for say, Hobgoblins). It came out in an awkward time when Japanese horror movies weren’t really being localized, so as far as I know there’s no official translation (fansubs are easy to find), but sometimes it appears to go by the titles The Tasty Flesh (the translated Japanese title) or The Demon Within (from the untranslated Hong Kong VCD). If you like your Ghoulies/Critters/Munchies/other killer imp movies, Gakidama might be well worth checking out.