Day 9: √964 Pinocchio (1991)
By Sam Reeve
Today’s featured film is something pretty special, though not as much a horror film as IMDb’s genre classifications will lead you to believe. There’s plenty of disturbing imagery and lots of vomit, so it still made the cut for Japanese Horror Month, but at no point did I think it was spooky.
√964 Pinocchio is an ultra-weird, low-budget cyberpunk film directed by Shozin Fukui. Some of you may be familiar with Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man (I’m not), which is another Japanese cyberpunk film with a cult following. Shozin worked on the crew for that film, and apparently there are a lot of similarities between his style and that of Tsukamoto’s.
Because I’m lazy and have a wrist injury, I’m going to steal Wikipedia’s plot description, which is pretty good:
Pinocchio 964 is a memory-wiped sex slave who is thrown out by his owners for failure to maintain an erection. It is unclear in what ways he has been modified beyond having no memory and being unable to communicate. He is discovered by Himiko while wandering aimlessly through the city. Himiko has also been memory-wiped, possibly by the same company that produced Pinocchio, but she is fully functional. Himiko spends her days drawing maps of the city, to aid other memory-wiped people.
Himiko takes Pinocchio home and tries to teach him to speak. After much effort he has a breakthrough and finally becomes aware of his situation. At this point his body erupts in an inexplicable metamorphosis and it becomes clear that his modifications were much more involved and esoteric than simple memory loss. Himiko also begins to transform, though in a much more subtle manner.
I think what the Wiki writer is trying to say by “subtle manner” is that Himiko turns on Pinocchio and tries to make him eat shitty dumpster salad and then the rest of the plot really made no sense to me except that people from the sexy corporation who wiped his memory are chasing them both down. Anyway…
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: There’s a lot going on that is a must-see if you just like weird shit. I’m going to employ some visual aids to help get my point across.
There’s quite a bit of stuff in this that you might not see anywhere else. Then again, maybe everything in this movie was just par for the course in the world of Japanese cyberpunk. I know nothing.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: I loved this movie, but I found a lot of scenes dragging on and just being a lot of confused babbling on the part of Pinocchio. I feel like if I had seen this with another person, someone I could’ve interacted with during the slow or repetitive bits, it would have made for an easier watch.
√964 Pinocchio was also just a bit confusing, though maybe I didn’t quite get the last half of the film because that’s also when I got hungry and stopped paying as much attention. Regardless of whether it makes sense or not, I’m very pleased to have seen this film.
Fukui’s other films (most of which are shorts), also promise to be just as wild, though I’ve not delved into them just yet.
Below I’ve posted the full movie with English subtitles. If any of you have seen this or end up watching it, let us know what you thought in a comment below. Cheers!