977. KWAIDAN (1964-Japan). COLOR. Directed by MASAKI KOBAYASHI. Four terrifying tales of the supernatural, filmed with the exquisite visual sensitivity for which the finest Japanese directors have been famous. This is no Japanese monster movie. Far from it. The horror is not created through grotesque creatures or special effects; it creeps up on you and sends shivers through your blood by appealing to recognizable human emotions and fears. An Academy Award nominee, this distinctive work of art is filled with graceful camera movements, dream-like settings, elaborately stylized action, unusual colors, and haunting sound effects and music. New York Times Critic Bosley Crowther called it “a symphony of color and sound, a horror picture with an extraordinarily delicate and sensuous quality.”
1. THE BLACK HAIR. A samurai, tired of poverty, abandons his wife and marries a wealthy woman. But he is stricken with guilt and haunted by vivid memories of the good woman he left behind. After many years, he gives up everything and returns to her. They spend an idyllic night together, but in the morning, he is horrified to learn . . . well, let’s just say that she isn’t exactly the way he remembered her to be!
2. THE WOMAN OF THE SNOW. A beautiful vampire breathes a strange mist onto her victims, draining their blood and freezing them to death. She mysteriously spares a young man who has witnessed one of her fiendish murders, and swears him to absolute secrecy. Years later, happily married to a sweet, gentle woman, he feels compelled to tell her the bizarre storyÑand becomes enmeshed in a web of pure terror.
3. HOICHI THE EARLESS. Hoichi, a blind man, works in a temple located on the edge of a haunted sea. Night after night, he is summoned by ghosts to a cemetery (which he thinks is a lord’s house), and is asked to recite the legend of their heroic deaths in a sea battle seven centuries earlier. The temple’s high priest devises an unusual method to drive the ghosts awayÑone that instead has a frightening, devastating effect on poor Hoichi. We won’t reveal the ending, but the title of this story is significant.
4. IN A CUP OF TEA, A man sees the reflection of a stranger in his teacup, and later encounters the same manÑan elusive ghost-warriorÑin a mammoth sword fight, This tale, with its chilling surprise ending, is a worthy finale to one of the most intriguing and accomplished horror movies ever made. Recommended. In Japanese with English subtitles. 161 minutes total. Horror