Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Japan, 1964. Kindai Eiga Kyokai, Tokyo Eiga Co Ltd.. Screenplay by Kaneto Shindo. Cinematography by Kiyomi Kuroda. Produced by Hisao Itoya, Tamotsu Minato, Setsuo Noto. Music by Hikaru Hayashi. Production Design by Kaneto Shindo. Costume Design by Yoshio Ueno. Film Editing by Toshio Enoki.
Thrilling ghost story with some sexy mayhem in between. A woman and her daughter-in-law live in abject poverty in feudal Japan, subsisting by killing the stray samurai warriors who get lost in their fields and selling their wares to a local merchant. The son and husband who links them has been off in the war for quite some time and they await his homecoming, until the day his friend comes home and informs them that their beloved is dead and he’s all they’ve got to hope for. The younger woman, lonely and vulnerable, begins a relationship with him, while the mother reacts to this disloyalty in a jealous rage that ends up backfiring on her. Terrific visuals and fiercely committed performances, and one of the scariest masks you ever saw.
The Criterion Collection: #226