A reporter is sent out to cover a story about a couple who spotted a spirit known as a Gakidama out in the woods. While investigating the hapless reporter becomes host to the spirit, and to please the spirit he must consume as much as possible. Things turn worst when it comes time for the creature to be released, and it finds its way out through his mouth, tearing his jaw almost completely off. After months have passed from the terrible incident, the man who once birthed a demon is now left only with the desire to consume it. To eat the tastiest flesh.
One thing I miss about the tape trading days is that every once and awhile you would come across a movie you had never heard of before, maybe due to the tape being renamed because no one knew what it was really called, or it was that obscure. "Gakidama" was one of those tapes that I got merely because it sounded cool since there wasn't any info to be found about it. Because of this I was also lucky enough to be one of the few people to become owner of a copy of "Gakidama" with subtitles, as it was only available through VHS bootlegs.
The story is fairly interesting; it plays on the Japanese paranormal and superstitious beliefs with a reporter and a photographer going out to the woods to do a report on a gakidama spirit that had been spotted there earlier. The reporter becomes possessed by the gakidama and soon is driven to eat everything in sight, after resembling a pregnant woman; the man gives birth to the gakidama in ghoul form. A few months after the incident, the man is overcome with the desire to consume the flesh of the ghoul, and a masked stranger helps him to understand and come to terms with the legend of gakidama and the bonds he shares with the creature having given birth to it. While he is out though, the gakidama that once possessed the reporter returns to his home to terrorize his wife.
What makes the story interesting is that while it has a short runtime it does have a lot going on within it. For one thing it addresses the superstitious beliefs that the Japanese have and spirit/demon mythos, then it seems to touch on real life horror a bit with the family dynamic between the reporter and his wife. His wife is unable to bare children, and when the man becomes pregnant and "births" the creature, his wife becomes jealous and develops a strange sort of love and sympathy for the creature, to the point that she accepts and is happy to become possessed by the demon herself. I'm not sure if it was just me or not but the story kind of had this Cronenberg-esque feel to it, as it seemed to use the gakidama to go into the horrors of family, pregnancy, and child birth. Not to mention the glaring similarities to Ridley Scott's "Alien". I might be looking to deep into it though.
I would like to point out though that when "The Dark Knight" came out; people criticized the fact that the Joker resembled Kakihara from Takashi Miike's "Ichi the Killer". But "Gakidama" pre-dates both movies with having a character that has the facial disfigurement of scars running up his face from the corners of his mouth. Not that it will matter much since nobody really knows about this movie.
Anyway, "Gakidama" is a solid little movie. Sure the ghoul form of the gakidama is a bit silly and laughable, but it’s still an excellent little movie that has a very well crafted story with a kind of creepy atmosphere that makes it a perfect watch on a rainy day. There isn't much in the way of gore or scares as the creature doesn't attack the wife until the end of the movie, but because it’s so well made and builds up fairly well towards the end, that it becomes a nice little pay off.
On a side note, the images in this review come from the DVD that was released for the movie but the only source that has ever had subtitles and the copy that this review is based off of, came from a fan-subbed version. That was only available through the bootleg sites Video Search of Miami or Witching Hour Video (Which then became WTF DVD's but has since closed up shop.) but seems to be no longer available.