Saturday, October 29

31 Days Of Horror: Day 20

Dir: Masaki Kobayashi
Starring: Rentaro Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama
and Misako Watanabe

Why haven’t you watched it yet? If you call yourself anything of a “movie buff”, and specifically if you deem yourself a “horror hound”, you should have already watched this film. Kwaidan is a Japanese horror anthology, which incorporates many of the historical storytelling aspects that has become a staple of J-Horror.  Samurai folklore, tortured souls, self-reflecting parables, and ghosts play in four separate presentations. It has this engulfing storytelling aspect that feels almost like a terrifying bedtime story. This is classic material.

Four stories. The first is “Black Hair”, a story about a man that leaves his true love to marry another women for money, however, the marriage is terrible and he decides to return to his true love only to encounter horrible consequences. The second, “The Woman In The Snow” is about a woodcutter who encounters a demon in the woods who spares the man’s life in payment for keeping the secret of the demon. The third, “Hoichi the Earless” finds a blind musician who is commanded to perform an epic ballad by ghosts, to protect the man from being drained of his life, monks write a holy mantra over his entire body to try and protect him. Finally, “In A Cup Of Tea” finds a writer telling the story of a man who see’s a face, not his own, in a cup of tea.

Horror fans will find so much in these shorts that can be related to numerous contemporary horror films, it’s interesting to see just how much is related. This is an absolutely amazing film, one that seems to get better with every watching for me. Most of the film is sound staged, but the stunningly painted backgrounds and manipulated props are breathtaking. Why haven’t you watched this yet? Day 21 with a classic.

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