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Another Heaven
Year: 2000
Director: Joji Iida
Cast: Yosuke Eguchi, Miwako Ichikawa, Yoshio Harada, Takashi Kashiwabara, Yukiko Okamoto
The Skinny: An unknown creature is getting inside the brains of the people of Tokyo and committing grizzly acts of murder.
     Another Heaven begins as a typical murder mystery with cop Manabu Hayase (Yosuke Eguchi) and his superior, Inspector Tobitaka (Yoshio Harada), being called to the scene of a bizarre murder. A man has been killed, his brains removed from his skull and cooked in a stew that is still boiling on the stove. Initially there are no leads, but as more of these acts are committed throughout the city, the two policemen catch a college student named Kimura (Takashi Kashiwabara.)
     However, Kimura is only the latest host for something that is moving from person to person and committing the crimes. Whatever it is, this "thing" endows its host with superhuman strength and athleticism along with a powerful headache that must be treated with morphine. It can only stay in one body for so long before the brain dissolves from ulcers, and so it must move quickly. Its ultimate goal is to inhabit Manabu because he shares the thing's fascination with the dark side of humanity.
     The nature of this thing and what it stands to gain by getting into Manabu are both very vague up until the final scenes of the film—and even then it is not totally clear. It is one of several plot holes in an otherwise enjoyable film. At times the invader is an alien similar to the one in 1987's The Hidden, and at other times it is a time-traveling, pure-evil organic element that reflects humanity's negative qualities. It seems that even the writers of the film were not sure of what the thing is supposed to be and what it wants.
     Despite the many unanswered questions, the action is well done, and the characters are well drawn. Manabu's redemption through the sweet but clingy Asako (Miwako Ichikawa) is emotionally satisfying but predictable. There are quite a few humorous moments which keep the tone lighter than other films of this genre. The best dramatic moments occur when Manabu and Tobitaka are trying to figure out whom the creature inhabits. No one can be trusted, and nobody else in the police department believes them. It is very tense and at times ironic when they find out who the thing is or isn't. Overall, Another Heaven is not a bad movie, but if you really want to explore the best of this genre, then it is recommended that you skip this film and move right on to John Carpenter's The Thing. (Magicvoice 2004)
Availability: DVD
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Laser
Japanese Language Track
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen