RSS

Tag Archives: Tales of Terror

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 29: Kuroneko

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 29: Kuroneko

I dislike cats.  I’m aware that many filmmakers have the same lack of appreciation for the beasts with 9 lives. Cat’s Eye, Pet Sematary, The Black Cat, The Cat People, even A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 all feature these ferocious felines.

It was with much trepidation (not really) that I sat to watch today’s film.  I knew that I would likely have an experience of shock simply from the subject matter alone.  I braved my fears, however, and happily accessed my Hulu+ account to view this classic of Japanese horror.

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 29: Yabu No Naka No Kuroneko “Kuroneko”

Kuroneko posterDirector: Kaneto Shindou
Year: 1968
Cast: Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kei Satou
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan
Specs: 99 mins. / Black and White / OAR 2.35:1 / MPAA Rating: NR
Rating: ★★★ / C

After being brutally raped and murdered by a gang of wandering samurai, a woman and her daughter return from the grave to haunt and kill them.

What odd choices of filmmaking, such as random jump cuts, unmotivated images of a black cat, disjointed jumping of the plane, cuts of ghosts and fallen samurai bodies out of nowhere, and the continual bamboo forest immersed in a dense fog imagery.

Some of the visuals were haunting, however.  The women with their painted on eyebrows, floating in their white kimono, amidst the secluded cabin in the woods, certainly ought to be enough to hold the interest of many aficionado’s of horror.  Sadly, I found the aforementioned problems too problematic to be saved by the later interesting elements.

It simply didn’t rise above anything other than average.  Certainly not after watching the superior Onibaba.  Thankfully, however, it’s not as bewildering as House.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Movies

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 28: Onibaba

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 28: Onibaba

I’ve long been a fan of Japanese cinema. Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Kon Ichikawa, and my favorite, Yasujiro Ozu, are masters of cinema few western audiences have seen. Amazingly, other than the run of horror movies that came from the land of the rising sun a few years back, such as Ringu and Ju On, I wasn’t familiar with any other in that genre.

Thankfully, a recent trip to the video store, and my viewing of their Criterion collection they have near the back of the store, I came across a few films considered to be classics in the J-horror genre.

With this new knowledge, I followed up my visit by searching both Hulu and Netflix for other films originating from the land famous for samurai, geisha, and ninja.

Happily, today’s film was one of the films featured on Hulu+ Criterion Collection. Without hesitation, I pressed play on my tiny appleTV remote, and took in the surprise that was today’s entry.

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 28: Onibaba


Director: Kaneto Shindou
Year: 1965
Cast: Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Satou
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan
Specs: 103 mins. / Black and White / OAR 2.35:1 / MPAA Rating: NR
Rating: ★★★★★ / A

I wasn’t sure how this film was considered a horror film for most of the film. I felt more like a revenge picture, and an excellently crafted one at that. However, [SPOILER]…

I was completely blown away by the twist near the end of the film that confirmed this to indeed be a horror film. The mastery that Shindou displayed on bringing together this morality tale was superb, and worthy of all the praise I’ve since read up on for this film.

It was shocking to see such graphic sensuality, given the year the film was made. Certainly not a film I’d be able to show in my film appreciation class without a major disclaimer.


The cinematography is simply amazing. The waves in the grass, the use of shadows, and the framing of each scene is a marvel to see. The acting is equally as impressive. This is not your over-the-top theatrics found in many other films of that same era. Instead we are witness to the depravity of war, and the loneliness of seclusion, in a manner that is completely engrossing.

I will never feel the same way when I am faced with the choice of the shortcut through the grassy field or the long dirt path around it. I certainly will be needing a proper foot cleansing after such a proposition presents itself.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Movies

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 23: The Witchfinder General (The Conqueror Worm)

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 23: The Witchfinder General (The Conqueror Worm)

It was a dark and stormy night, my brother and I huddled under the handmade quilt that our grandmother had made for one of us as a birthday gift years earlier. Gripped in hand, flashlight at the ready, was my brothers 1984 Thriller Talking View-Master. We took turns viewing the mesmerizing images from the famous John Landis directed music video for the King of Pop’s zombified music video. Slowly, we progressed through the images, anticipating the moment when our favorite section of the stereoscopic viewer with a soundtrack would arrive.

After a few brief moments, our expectancy was quenched by the haunting narration from the master of macabre, the dab hand of horror, the cognoscente of creep: Vincent Price.

To my brother and I, there was no other actor. We would often make pilgrimages to a neighboring town on Saturday afternoons to visit our favorite comic shop, Dave’s, and then saunter across the street to the old music hall in order to watch a double feature of films from years before. Many of those times one of those films would feature our favorite film star of horror. It was there, on the big screen, on a print that had seen far better days, that we first saw House of Wax in 3D, The Fly, Tales of Terror, and House on Haunted Hill.

So it was with great anticipation when I learned of this film, only weeks ago. An acquaintance of mine was questioned by a film industry news site what he would pick as his top horror films of all time. As you can guess, today’s film was on that list. Thankfully, the excellent folks at Scream Factory had also recently released it on glorious Blu-ray.

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 23: The Witchfinder General (The Conqueror Worm)

Conqueror Worm posterDirector: Michael Reeves
Year: 1968
Cast: Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Hilary Dwyer
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Specs: 86 mins. / Color / OAR 1.85.1 / MPAA Rating: NR
Rating: ★★★★★ / A

Matthew Hopkins, a man calling himself a Witchhunter, roams the countryside, offering his services to any paying community in order to rid themselves of so called witches. Unfortunately for the small village of Brandeston, Suffolk, he chooses them for his next “visit”.

Wow. That’s the 1st word that I thought of as I sat through this fictional tale of an actual person during a disturbingly dark era in modern human history. This film is brutal. It isn’t filled with gore, there aren’t any ghosts, not a possession nor masked murderer of sexually charged teens in sight. What we have is a morbid tale of the infamous witch hunts. As I watched this film, the thought entered my mind that if even a fraction of what is on display here were true, it would be more disturbing than anything the minds of Eli Roth or Dario Argento could produce.

The acting is top notch. The story is equally as engrossing. The subject matter is repulsing. The direction and soundtrack is revealing, in that the most disturbing horror is what we as humans do to each other, more than what any My Buddy doll come-to-life could wreak. Those responsible for the atrocities fictionalized here are the true Pin Heads of our society.

Witchfinder General stillI’m glad that I “found” this film. I’m hopeful that others will be as intrigued. I’d recommend screening your own personal Double Feature, rounding out the bill with a film featuring another of my favorite veterans of horror, The Wicker Man, staring Christopher Lee.

I should forewarn you in advance, however, that you certainly won’t find any spoonfuls of sugar in these versions of the UK.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Movies

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: