DVD - 2015 | Japanese
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After more than a decade of sober political dramas and social-minded periodpieces, the great Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi shifted gears dramatically for this rapturously stylized quartet of ghost stories. Featuring colorfully surreal sets and luminous cinematography, these haunting tales of demonic comeuppance and spiritual trials, adapted from writer Lafcadio Hearn's collections of Japanese folklore, are existentially frightening and meticulously crafted. In The black hair, a poor young samurai leaves his first wife to marry a rich woman. When he is unhappy in his second marriage, he returns to his first wife, who at first appears unchanged from when he last saw her. In The woman of the snow, a woodcutter is spared by a mysterious ghost-like woman in the snow, but must promise never to tell anyone what he has seen. In Hoichi, the earless, a blind musician-monk named Hoichi is commanded by a gathering of ghosts to sing the saga of their ancient deeds. The head monk paints Hoichi's body with prayer verses to protect him, but unfortunately overlooks Hoichi's ears. In In a cup of tea, a writer wonders what would happen to a person who drinks another's soul and finds out.


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Dec 29, 2016

Stylish and top notch production values. The lavish Kwaidan (怪談) "Hoichi the Earless" (耳無し芳一の話) alone is worth the ticket.

Mar 24, 2016

Superb and engrossing, the sets are spectacular.

Hoichi the Earless was very good but all the ghost stories and tales of spiritual encounters were very good.

Watch on a cold rainy night by a fire with the lights low or out.

rufus_red4 Jun 02, 2015

Way to slowly paced and the stories, the first 2 anyhow, don't add up to much. Nice theatrical visuals though, that's about the only redeeming quality of this movie.

May 08, 2014

I was very surprised how great this collection of ghost stories were. Creepy and visually unique come to mind to describe the styles plus the pacing of the story was not to slow. Great gem.

Feb 14, 2014

This collection of 4 ghost stories directed by Masaki Kobayashi is one of my all-time horror film favourites. It was shot in colour, and done in the days of no CGI. It didn't need it. Find one quiet evening, sit back and put your feet up to enjoy this lasting horror classic from a talented director from the past. The eye-in-the-sky scene continues to carry a nightmarish charm for me even after all these years.


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Dec 29, 2016

A man must rise in the world. I can't throw that away for you...and rot away in this place ... Don't try to stop me! And you'd be happier married to a man from a good family. I've had enough... of this unending poverty! ... The samurai did not understand the value of love.
In truth, I never felt worthy of being your wife.
-But you are!
Even though I knew I wasn't, ...I clung to you, always a burden.
You traveled a long way home. That has already brought me happiness.
I intended to do to you... what I did to that other man. But I couldn't help pitying you... because you're so young.
I suddenly remembered that night.
-That night?
That's right. A strange thing happened. It's like it was yesterday. You see, I've never told anybody about it. I'm still not sure if it was real or a dream. It was the night old Mosaku froze to death... as if all the blood had been sucked out of him. With my own eyes ... I saw a woman ...

Dec 29, 2016

Thereafter, that sea and its shores... have been haunted for 700 years. Thousands of strange crabs, called “Heike crabs,” ...with human faces on their shells, can be found there.
...we wish to hear “The Battle of Dan-no-ura.”
-It was early in the morning
Of March 24th In the second year of the Genryaku era
That the Genji and Heike clans
At Dan-no-ura
Fought their last sea battle
"Though you were born an emperor" Said Lady Nii
"Your good fortune has run out"
Amide will welcome you
in the Western Pure Lend
"Hurry and invoke Amida Buddha's sacred name"
"Beneath the waves"
"Another capital city awaits"
Holding the infant emperor in her arms
She threw herself
into the fathomless sea.
I can imagine several possible endings. But none of them would leave you satisfied. I'll just leave it to you to imagine for yourself the best ending... to a story about a man who swallowed another's soul.


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