Archive for Nobuo Nakagawa


Posted in FILM with tags , , , on December 17, 2019 by dcairns

JIGOKU (1960) by Nobuo Nakagawa is this weird, disappointing thing. But from these images you’d think it was the greatest thing ever — like the 2001 of horror movies.

My problem with the Nakagawa movies I’ve seen — those in the kaidan genre — is that they all follow a tiresome, overextended EC Comics pattern — some horrible characters are horrible for two hours, then get a supernatural comeuppance. JIGOKU, which means HELL, varies the usual pattern by killing the whole cast half an hour before the end, and then shows them being tortured in the afterlife. Thirty minutes of plotless wailing. But fantastic imagery.

Nakagawa’s films, populated as they are by conniving shitheels, only become involving when the ghostly revenge kicks in, where he can show off his considerable visual skills in a more-or-less abstract manner. Dullish movies with exciting final ten minute sequences. He tends to overdo the snakes, but that’s a quibble. So the idea of expanding that bit to fill an entire act might seem to make sense. It doesn’t play out that way, though.

Grudge Dread

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , on November 1, 2018 by dcairns

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.