25 October 2014

Onibaba (1964)
103 min.
Directed by Kaneto Shindô.
With Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Sato, Taiji Tonomura, Jukichi Uno, Somesho Matsumoto, Kentaro Kaji, Hosui Araya.
A beautifully photographed Japanese horror.

Times are tough in medieval Japan, where two warring factions battle for their respective Emperors and for control of the kingdom.

As a result, people across the land are dying of starvation and deprivation.

Alone in the wet, infertile marshlands, a mother and her daughter-in-law manage to survive as best they can - namely, by killing samurai warriors who wander through their area, selling the wares of the dead in an underground black market, and disposing of the corpses via a huge black pit in the ground.

Nice work if you can get it, eh?

But when the younger woman falls in love with a returning soldier, the mother becomes worried she'll be abandoned.

She dons a horrific death mask and attempts to scare her daughter into compliance.

However, playing a demon proves to be tantamount to becoming one...

Also known as The Hole, this intriguing terror contrasts its stark & primitive atmosphere with dreamlike spurts of moody imagery.

Gets a bit too Tennessee Williams in the middle (ok, Williams by way of Eastern Asia), but generally the whole thing's too good to be ignored.

Check out the excellent double murder opening, itself topped only by a genuinely spooky climax.

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