I should preface this review by saying, do not let the rating fool you; Goke, Body Snatchers from Hell is a bad movie. What makes it entertaining, however, is how comically bad it is. This Japanese horror/sci-fi flick presence with its “frights” a blatant moral message: War is bad, the Vietnam war in particular.
A planeful of a variety of Japanese individuals and one English-speaking woman are in transit above a remote desert part of the country when the two pilots are alerted that a passenger might have a bomb on the aircraft. One pilot Sugisaka (Teruo Yoshida) calmly searches all bags and eventually finds a rifle in the back compartment and is immediately confronted by the villainous passenger (Hideo Ko), who orders the flight’s path to be changed. Just after this takeover, however, lights flash outside the plane and it is sent careening toward the earth. All passengers minus the other pilot survive the slow crash landing of a miniature airplane model, but their troubles are far from over.
The hijacker takes flight attendant Kazumi (Tomomi Sato) as a hostage and heads out into the desert wilderness. The two eventually come across the landed flying saucer that caused the plane’s crash, and by standing in its mere presence, the hijacker’s face splits vertically along his nose and a mercury-looking goo oozes into the wound, thus making the man an alien slave. Once Kazumi explains the events to the rest of the flight passengers, some clashing emotions among the passengers (“I am a psychologist and it will be fascinating to see how all of you respond to this situation.”) results in one being pushed from a cliff and the hijacker/alien waiting below latches onto his neck like vampire, turning the man into a decayed corpse. The remainder of the film follows the endeavors of the passengers to survive against the alien.
The moral of the story is that had humans not been so occupied with killing themselves via the atomic bomb and the Vietnam War, the aliens would never have had such a great opportunity to visit and take over the world. One will find it impossible to escape this message as a good amount of dialogue is devoted to furthering this theory. Outside of the moral, Goke‘s story is not a bad one and the cast of characters is fun. Besides the psychologist, we have an alien enthusiast, politician, weapons dealer (who resembles a Japanese version of Jeffrey Combs) and his slutty wife, and the American woman who is on the way to pick up her husband’s body (he died in the Vietnam War and they apparently don’t send bodies home). Despite being evil and having a nasty wound on his forehead, the hijacker looks remarkably like a Japanese Tony Curtis, with fantastic hair and dark eyelashes.
I understand the print of this I saw at the horror movie marathon was a rare one, but I have also heard the it is not foreign to TCM, so although the likelihood of seeing Goke is low, I would recommend taking the opporutnity if it presents itself, if only for a laugh.