|Formats:||15 DVD, Blu-ray|
|Starring:||Nobuko Otowa, Kei Sato, Kiwako Taichi, Kichiemon Nakamura|
|Genres:||Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, World Cinema|
|Run time:||1 hour 35 minutes|
|Rental release:||22 Aug 2005|
Most helpful review
Eerie Japanese Classic FantasyBy Jacuzzi (31 reviews) from Birkenhead , 01 Sep 2005
[Highly rated reviewer]'Kurenoko' is a gem of the Japanese ghost story genre. Based on a traditional folk tale it could be regarded as an Oriental version of 'Cat People' but it is far more than that. A variation of Kaneto Shindo's earlier classic 'Onibaba', it incorporates the same use of dazzling landcape cinematography (this time, shot mainly at night time) to evoke a genuinely unsettling and creepy feel. The story is set in civil war torn Japan and centres on a mother and her daughter-in-law who are raped and murdered by a band of returning war crazed samurai. Before long, the forest is terrorised by two vengeful spirits who prey on passing warriors, leaving their bodies savagely disfigured as if mauled by powerful cats. A lone samurai is commissioned to rid the area of this evil force - he just happens to be the womens' son/husband who they had believed lost in the wars. To go on further would spoil things - this is a terrific film which is easily in my personal top 10 Japanese movies. Shindo is an eloquent story teller who must rank with the leading Japanese directors. If you enjoy classic Japanese cinema or like eerie, weird but beautiful films, then treat yourself to this movie.
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Atmosheric ghost storyBy a customer from London , 07 Mar 2008I very much enjoyed this film which is in a very similar vein to Onibaba although I feel that that, more famous, film has the edge. Just as in Onibaba it begins with a woman and daughter in law who live alone after the son/husband that links them as has been press-ganged into fighting in an interminable civil war. After that although the story is different it retains the same creepy atmosphere as Onibaba and has some moments of genuine tension. Good performances and great cinematography make this a really good film.
Dark and unsettling ghost storyBy JON KELLY from Doncaster, England , 12 Mar 2007This is another great looking, atmospheric film from Kaneto Shindo, although I would direct newcomers to check out 'Onibaba' first. The plot is very similar to the director's previously highly acclaimed prize winner, but the look is more stylised and theatrical, relying on dramatic lighting and sets rather than natural locations. While the horror element may be more conventional this time round, it still invokes a great deal of unease, particurlarly the use of ritual dance and eerie sound effects (again mostly derived from nature). I enjoyed 'Onibaba' more, but this is a nice companion piece and still an essential piece of Japanese cinema.
A cat's leg isn't something you just find lying around.By ChesterDent (121 reviews) from London , 11 Feb 2007Shindo's companion piece to his earlier, and better-known, film Onibaba features similar stunning imagery, virtuoso mix of a piercing score and natural sounds and is a departure from the standard genre formula but Kuroneko is more uneven than its superior predecessor. Too many unimaginative repetitions and unnecessary shock effects sadly betray the film's beautiful black and white scope.
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A companion piece to OnibabaBy Savage (632 reviews) from London, England , 27 Oct 2006I believe that Shindo decided he had to return to similar material to that he had used for 'Onibaba', because of the complete failure (both critical and commercial) of a couple of films he had made in the meantime. And his complete mastery of the ghost-story/sex genre makes you wonder why he ever strayed.
There's an inevitable feeling of deja vu about the basic plot - a pair of women prey on passing men - but the background and atmosphere are quite different, and there's a genuine fury about the picture which sets it apart.
That said, it's not a patch on its outstanding predecessor, relying too much on a repetitive narrative in the first half, and on rather underdone characterisations in the second. To a Japanese audience, the story is familiar; others can guess what is happening at any given point, but I'm not sure that's any excuse for the muddiness in the narrative or those playing it out.
You can't, however, argue with either the sumptuous widescreen cinematography (beautifully transfered on this disc), or the haunting score, which adds considerably to the overall creepiness.
BrilliantBy a customer from Dumfries, Scotland , 29 Apr 2006A very, very watchable film and one that had me riveted every minute of the way. There is just one point : unlike our medieval Knights, bearing the first scene in mind, the famous 'Code of Honour' of the Samurai seems to have been reserved for men only! Is there a Japanese customer that would like to comment on this ?