[Interview] Takashi Miike Looks Back on His Controversial

On the anniversary of Takashi Miike’s controversial ‘Masters of Horror’ episode, the director looks back on what he considers to be his scariest work.

Takashi Miike is not only one of the most prolific directors that is currently working, but he’s made a strong name for himself in terms of delivering uniquely frightening and unexplainable visuals. Even his movies that aren’t specifically part of the horror genre still contain macabre sequences. It certainly seems like Miike has a mastery over the genre, which makes it so interesting that he’s actually pretty susceptible to becoming its prey.

I’m actually quite a scaredy cat, myself. Since a child I’ve been this way,” admits Miike. “I’m even a little afraid of the dark. If I’m alone in the dark I’ll sometimes feel that there’s a presence behind me and I’ll even be afraid to turn around. But then if I do get the courage to turn around, I’ll just be scared that whatever was there has just jumped over to the other side of me.”

Miike elaborates on this fear and how it’s impacted his appreciation of the horror genre. “This sounds really silly, but as a child I’ve always been a bit of a coward so I don’t watch many horrors films myself. I personally don’t want to pay money to go to a theater to get horribly frightened!” Miike’s own works aren’t even exempt to this fear. He explains, “Even after I finish making horror films, I usually don’t go to a theater to watch them myself.”

Miike has crafted some truly frightening works with Audition at the forefront of the pack, but it’s actually Miike’s contribution to Showtime’s Masters of Horror series that’s stuck with him the most. “The scariest of the projects that I’ve worked on is ‘Imprint,’” says Miike. “Everyone kept telling me that America’s a free country and that I could really do whatever I wanted. It’s cable TV, so don’t hold back at all and make it as scary as possible. So I did that and then when I showed it to the producers in Japan, they were like, ‘I know we told you that you can do anything, but this is going too far. This is way too far.’”

“Imprint” tells a highly disturbing story that sets in 1800s Japan and involves a man checking in on a prostitute who he left behind many years ago. Needless to say, the prostitute’s life has fallen onto terribly harsh times and the end product isn’t just traumatic; it was too much for the network. Showtime shelved Miike’s episode, only to eventually release it much later on DVD.

“We even had to publish this article in the New York Times apologizing that said that this was supposed to be a 13-episode series, but an episode’s been cut because it was too scary, so now it’s just twelve episodes,” remembers Miike. “’Imprint’ was definitely the scariest project that I’ve worked on.”

With it now the anniversary of one of Takashi Miike’s most extreme and interesting works, why not find the time to revisit this eerie installment of television and see just what all of the fuss was about. All of these years later, “Imprint” still makes for an extremely unsettling experience.

“Imprint” is currently available to stream on Tubi and Amazon Prime.

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