Grudge Dread

For Halloween itself I watched Nobuo Nakagawa’s TOKAIDO YOTSUYA KAIDAN (THE GHOST OF YOTSUYA, 1959). I’d glanced at one of his many ghost stories before, and found him a bit staid, but obviously I have to look again: this one may begin rather flatly, and the lack of characters to care about (they’re all either ruthless schemers or pathetic dupes) makes it heavy going — but at the end it goes balls-out psychotronic. Impossible to believe you’re watching a fifties movie, this is like late-sixties psychedelia, with red flash-frames and rampant dutch tilting to and from like the camera has a broken neck.

The anti-hero has at this point poisoned his wife with a disfiguring potion, stabbed her masseur to death for no good reason, and nailed their corpses, perhaps ill-advisedly, to some loose doors before setting them adrift in the swamp. Now he has to contend with avenging relatives sword-fighting at him (including a kick-ass female character, AT LAST) while also being distracted by mutilated ghosts literally swinging into shot, still attached to their doors, or sprouting from the earth to grab his ankles. Most satisfying.

So obviously the one I started watching before, which had to do with cats but didn’t seem as amazing as KURONEKO, was just biding its time and if I’d stuck with it, who knows?

Further investigation needed. Meanwhile, hiding out in this snake-infested temple won’t do us any good.

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