Sunday, June 29, 2014

KURONEKO (1968) movie review

Kuroneko (aka Black Cat) (1968) d. Kaneto Shindo (Japan)

The writer/director of Onibaba delivers a companion tale of horror set in feudal Japan, but whereas that 1964 classic focused on a mother/daughter-in-law team waylaying samurai and scavenging their corpses to survive their poverty, here we have a mother/daughter-in-law team waylaying samurai to avenge their own rapes and murders. Yep, it’s a Japanese ghost story, one that ultimately pits a young warrior Gintoki (Kichiemon Nakamura) against those he loved most in life.

Though the early scenes of the black cat demon-possessed women luring human prey to their deaths are undeniably repetitious, the emotional weight of Gintoki and Shige’s (Kiwako Taichi) doomed love and the ultimate battle against the monster wearing his mother’s (Onibaba's Nobuko Otowa) mask carry the day, with Kiyomi Kuroda and Norimichi Igawa’s breathtaking black-and-white cinematography and Hikaru Hayashi’s haunting music creating a deep and haunting atmosphere. Well worth seeking out.

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