KURONEKO (1968) [Feature]

Japan (MIFF 1969 , Programme 38)
Director: Kaneto Shindo

Two women, raped and killed by barbarian samurai, have become vampires. They lure samurai into a country hut with promises of love and then, in vengeance against all samurai, tear their throats open. The son of one and husband of the other has become a famous samurai, and has been appointed to destroy them. . . .

A Festival without a samurai film would be like the sound of one hand clapping. This beautiful, stylized exercise in a supernatural theme is done with special effects that create a hypnotic and hallucinatory atmosphere. Its imagery is as stunning as its love scenes, and its ritualistic acting has all the magical qualities we have come to expect from this genre.

The writer-director, Kaneto Shindo (whose The Island was shown in the 1962 Melbourne Film Festival), also succeeds in making a statement against war, by anathematizing the ancient warrior caste system that laid waste to the land and brought famine and misery to the people.

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