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Discussing Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell | Immunities Podcast

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Japan Station host Tony Vega makes a guest appearance on this special episode of the Immunities podcast. On this episode Tony Vega, Immunities podcast creator/director Bob J. Koester, Maria Burnham, and Jacob Van Hoorn, discuss the 1968 classic (?) Japanese science fiction horror film Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell (吸血鬼ゴケミドロ, Kyūketsuki Gokemidoro) (lit. Vampire Gokemidoro). Questions are raised, trivia is offered, and plenty of laughs are had, so give it a listen!

About Immunities Podcast

After you’re done listening to this episode, then why not check out the Immunities podcast? It’s an audio drama set in a version of earth that has mostly been taken over by body-snatching aliens. Definitely worth checking out!

Here’s the official description:

“Immunities is an original audio drama about the survivors of an alien invasion, who have to decide what kind of life to lead surrounded by those who look like, and in some ways are, the people they used to know.”

Listen to Immunities Podcast

About Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell, or as it was called in Japan Kyūketsuki Gokemidoro (Vampire Gokemidoro), is a 1968 Japanese science fiction horror film. It was directed by Hajime Sato and released by Shochiku. The movie was produced during a period of time in the studio’s history in which they were experimenting with the scifi/horror genre. Here’s a brief description of Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell that was used for its Criterion Collection DVD release.

“After an airplane is forced to crash-land in a remote area, its passengers find themselves face-to-face with an alien force that wants to possess their bodies and souls—and perhaps take over the entire human race. Filled with creatively repulsive effects—including a very invasive bloblike life-form—Hajime Sato’s Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell is a pulpy, apocalyptic gross-out.”

Where to Whatch Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell is available for purchase as part of a  four disc Criterion Collection DVD set.

As of the time of this writing, Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell can also be found on YouTube. The version below has English subtitles.

Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell Trivia

  • The scene featuring an airplane flying through a red sky in Kill Bill Volume 1 is said to be an homage by Quentin Tarantino to the opening scene of Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell.
  • The music heard in Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell was composed by Shunsuke Kikuchi. Kikuchi is a prolific composer of music for TV and film. His work can be heard in Doraemon, Kamen Rider, Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Abarenbō Shōgun, and many other popular shows and movies.

Here’s a little bit of interesting trivia about Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell that does not appear to have been available in English until now. All this information can be found in the Japanese-language Wikipedia entry of Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell.

  • The idea that the heads of those attacked by Gokemidoro would split open was inspired by the 1961 Fredric Brown novel The Mind Thing.
  • Early in the production process setting the story in a mental hospital in a remote village in the Tohoku area of Japan (the northeastern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu) was being considered. The premise would have supposedly been that an invisible creature from outer space would have come (“flown” is the word used) to the town. This is said to have been inspired by the 1948 film The Snake Pit, which also took place at a mental hospital. However, the director, Hajime Sato is said to have been the one to have changed the setting to an airplane.
  • The man that played the assassin was not a professional actor. He was a singer of a genre of music called shanson (chanson) in Japan. These are French songs that were popular in the 60s. Singers would sing in French and do Japanese covers as well. The singer accepted the role because in the script it said he would become dust upon dying and be blown away by the wind. He liked that ending to the character. However, changes were made to the script and he did not end up dying in the way he had read in the version of the script he had read. He was unhappy about the changes.
  • Following the release of the movie, children would see the man that played the assassin and say “It’s Gokemidoro.” They would be frightened of him.
  • Soji Ushio is said to have come up with the name Gokemidoro. He combined the names of two places. The first was a temple he liked to visit called Saiho-ji. This temple is also known by the nickname koke-dera, or “moss temple” (koke means moss. The second was a pond he had an affinity for. It was called Midoro-ike. Combine these and you get Kokemidoro. However, “kokeru” literally means to fall or sumble. In the Japanese entertainment industry, kokeru can be taken to mean to “fail” or “bomb.” Thus Kokemidoro was modified to “Gokemidoro>”
  • Shochiku’s marketing department came up with their own explanation for the the name Gokemidoro. Shochiku divided “Gokemidoro” into three parts: “go,” “kemi,” and “doro.” According to this explanation, “go” comes from “Golgotha,” which is where Jesus was crucified. Golgotha can be translated as “place of the skull.” “Kemi” is said to be derived from “chemical.” “Doro” comes from “android.”
  • Marketing material released by Shochiku gives the following backstory for the Gokemidoro aliens:
    • On a planet called QX there were human-like creatures whose heads had developed to a great degree. With the power of science they changed themselves into mercury-like blobs. Their food supply became scarce on their planet, so they came to Earth.

Other Podcasts

Tony Vega produces two podcasts. Check them out via the links below

Featured image: Wikipedia

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