Friday, 24 July 2009

DVD from my Collection: Onibaba, A Film by Kaneto Shindo

A horror movie in all but name. Set in a swampy landscape of reeds and grasses during the endless strife of feudal Japan, two peasant women survive by murdering soldiers fleeing the bloody battlefields and selling their armour. The film consists largely of their hand to mouth existence and the erotic interplay between the younger woman and the lone male inhabitant of the swamp-there is a fair share of naked breasts and sweaty sex. The supernatural intrudes at the end in the form of a demonic mask-fans of Japanese horror will recognise a precursor of films such as Ring.

Onibaba, a black and white film from 1964, is creepy and atmospheric. The horror ending is effective and quite frightening but the rest of the film is engrossing too. In its two central characters, turned into killers by their circumstances, both victims and perpetrators, we have an indictment of war and an uncaring social system.

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