Embalming: The New Taxidermy
Miyako is a coroner. She gets to look at all the inner goo within our bodies once we quit making outer goo. One day she gets a male teenage corpse with a needle sticking out of its neck. My guess is he died of natural causes. But, as the body is prepared for embalming, someone sneaks in after hours and takes the corpse’s head right out of its shoulder holder.
The search for the misplaced face leads Miyako and detective Kurume into the lucrative underground shopping mall known as the organ trade industry. Legs, arms, torsos, eyeballs, wieners…they won’t be undersold! (I’m waiting for the President’s Day 1/2 off butt cheek sale.)
It’s here they find Dr Fuji, an ostracized surgeon who runs his limb extraction practice out of the back of a semi-truck. Fuji knows where the head is, but it’s linked to a convoluted plot that distracts from the real reason to watch this movie: to witness graphic autopsies done on the living. Is that asking too much?
Miyako, though, has bigger problems. A nearby priest tells her what she does to dead bodies is evil and that she’s really gonna get it, the argument being that preserving the dead body is a crime against the laws of nature. (The Japanese believe in cremation, not embalming. I’m split down the middle. Heh.)
Fuji, as it turns out, did the embalming on Miyako’s mom when she kicked the Buddha, so that ties in somehow. While Em: Embalming (1999) invokes a solid “meh,” it’s the gloriously gory body parts that reward one’s rental yen. Not quite as visceral as Saw III (2006) in the head-opening department, if you can put up with all the plot distractions, you’ll be rewarded with some juicy meatiness. I know that sounds icky, but I couldn’t think of anything else.