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Shindo's stylish black-and-white ghost story forms a companion piece to his earlier film Onibaba. Once again we have a woman and her daughter-in-law preying on a lone samurai. But the mood here is a little gentler and more poignant than we are accustomed to. The two women are victims of a brutal gang of samurai: they are raped and killed and fire is set to their hut. But when their cat licks the blood from their corpses, they are transformed into shape-shifting demons that favour the form of black cats. Waylaying benighted warriors, they wreak their revenge. A champion samurai is sent against them, but he finds the monsters he's hired to destroy are his own wife and mother. Shindo skilfully builds an atmosphere of eerie menace--draperies waving in the wind, Hikaru Hiyashi's score mimicking the desolate caterwauls that precede each killing. Shindo, faithful as ever to his left-wing principles, includes a strong measure of barbed social comment in his portrayal of the arrogant samurai class. --Philip Kemp
SYNOPSIS Kaneto Shindo ' s Kuroneko (Yabu no naka no kuroneko, or The Black Cat Inside the Bamboo Grove) - released to great acclaim in 1968 - is a sparse, atmospheric horror story, ascribing to the director ' s philosophy of using beauty and purity to evoke emotion. Eccentric and more overtly supernatural than its breakthrough companion piece, Onibaba, Kuroneko revisits similar themes to reveal a haunting meditation on duty, conformity, and love. In this magnificently eerie and romantic film - loosely based on the Japanese folktale The Cat ' s Return - a mother and daughter - in - law (Nobuko Otowa and Kiwako Taichi) are raped and murdered by pillagers, but return from the dead as vampiric cat spirits intent on revenge. As the ghosts lure soldiers into the bamboo groves, a fearless samurai, Gintoki (Kichiemon Nakamura), is sent to stop their reign of terror. Kuroneko remains a standout film of the kaidan eiga genre of period ghost stories often based on old legends or kabuki plays. Marking Shindo ' s first use of wire work as Yone and Shige battle against samurai blades, the film is subtly complimented by Kiyomi Kuroda s award - winning chiaroscuro cinematography, Hikaru Hayashi ' s vibrant score, and riveting performances from many of the greatest actors of Japan s golden age of film. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Kuroneko for the first time on Blu - ray in the UK. SPECIAL BLU - RAY EDITION
- Newly restored 1080p transfer, in its original 2.35:1 original aspect ratio
- Optional English subtitles (new translation)
- 24 - page booklet with an essay by Doug Cummings, a reprint of a vintage interview with Shindo by Joan Mellen, and rare archival imagery.