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Brooks Walker
Brooks Walker

The Ghost Of Yotsuya(1959) High Quality



That same night, Iemon is wed to Ume. Soon, both Iemon and Naosuke are haunted by visions of the dead and deformed Oiwa, as well as Takuetsu. The terrified Iemon attacks the spirit at his new home at night, accidentally killing Ume as well as both of her parents. He flees to a Buddhist temple in search of sanctuary. That same night, Oiwa's ghost visits her sister Sode and Naosuke. Upon seeing her, Naosuke confesses to his crimes and flees to the same temple. The ghost of Oiwa leads Sode to the home of Yomoschichi, who had survived the attempted murder. Yomoschichi and Sode resolve to avenge their slain loved ones.




The Ghost of Yotsuya(1959)



While not a unique premise, Nobuo Nakagawa's presentation of a ghostly wife sticking around to haunt the sly dog of a husband responsible for her demise is a gorgeous and often fun retelling of its 18th-century source material by Nanboku Tsuruya.


I love me some vengeful ghosts taking down cocky samurais. The Ghost of Yotsuya is a perfect example of the genre. It is gorgeous, using its kabuki roots to craft a theatrical, highly stylised experience. It uses brilliant camera tricks to pull off ghostly hallucinations. The screen is splattered with colour in its sumptuous locations and intricate sets. The horror is spooky. Corpses and ghosts appear, soaking the screen in red. Buckets of water turn into buckets of snakes. The violence is shockingly brutal considering the film's vintage. Poison turns a woman's face "hideous" before she dies, and we suddenly move into skin-crawling body horror territory. If you dig this kind of thing as much as I do, at a swift 70ish minutes, this is a near perfect example of ghostly gooey period piece Japanese horror.


Sumptuous Japanese samurai-ghost-revenge story that splatters the screen with lavish gore. The effects are fantastic, and they're withheld for a while to draw out a greater impact when they're unveiled in full. What drew my eye most was the framing. There are large swathes of black that dominate and cramp the visual for a more claustrophobic tale that's quite effective.


Tired of living in poverty with his wife, samurai Iemon Tamiya (Shigeru Amachi) hatches a scheme to kill Iwa (Katsugo Wakasugi) with the help of his friend Naosuke, (Shuntaro Emi) so he can marry Ume Ito (Junko Ikeuchi) a wealthier woman. As they live together and try to raise a family, he slowly grows more frustrated with their condition and wishes to hurry so that they can be together. When he carries out the event successfully, the two plan to live in a small village, but her ghost returns to torment him for the wrongful death and must find a way to stop it before he gets condemned for eternity.


This is one of the most enjoyable and faithful variations of the story. Most of that is due to the film being a straight retelling of the story which comes off quite strong. With the first half retelling Iemon and Iwa's life in poverty together, these reinforcements of the societal gap between the two becomes heavily integrated with the original story. Since that is a major focus of the play, the scenes of Iemon slowly getting more confident and willing to dispose of Iwa become ingrained and tie the two together. Even more intriguing, since the exploits of those around him continually showcase their wealth against him, this becomes even more of a reason for him to act. While this isn't that action-packed during these early scenes, it wholly sets up the ghostly vengeance later on to be that much more fun.


The acting does manage to help out even more. Shigeru Amachi turns in a spectacular performance as Iemon. Greedy, hot-headed and violent, he's quite unlikable in the first half where he does nothing but plot the death of Iwa. His turn towards paranoia and complete terror in the second half sells the ghost coming back to haunt him effectively and the manic intensity he displays is truly impressive to watch. The sweet Katsugo Wakasugi plays Iwa as the type of typical Japanese wife during this feudal period. She doesn't do much but once she becomes the ghost she becomes far more enjoyable. She looks terrifying and sells the turn effectively. Shuntaro Emi as Iemon's friend Naosuke plays the loyal sidekick well, not being truly standout but the willingness to play along with his plans gives him a vile edge. Beyond that, nobody really is terrible or that impressive as they're just competent overall.


On the other hand, the first half of this film has absolutely nothing of any real value as a horror film at all, looking absolutely like a lame drama about the social standing rather than anything to do with a ghost story, and it makes for some utterly boring and uninteresting times. The endless talks of him trying to get a better life, the prodding from his friend who knows too much and the interactions with the wife all compound together to make this a pretty bland part of the story. Although it's done to help hammer in Iemon's greed and Iwa's desire for revenge due to the story adaptation, this one really takes a while to get to that point. That pacing might not be as appealing to some as it could've been with a shorter setup.


This classic japanese tale has been filmed many times. It's the story of a samurai's betrayal of his wife and the ultimate vengeance her spirit seeks. The spectre of her ghost haunting the mind of her husband is almost like seeing a japanese "The Shining".


Tired of living in poverty with his wife, a samurai hatches a scheme to kill her off so he can marry a wealthier woman which he carries out successfully, but her ghost returns to torment him for the wrongful death and must find a way to stop it before he is condemned for eternity.This is one of the most enjoyable and faithful variations of the story. Even though most of them are going to be pretty much similar to what happens, this one goes for a straight retelling of the story which comes off decently. With the first half retelling their life in poverty together, these reinforcements of the society gap between the two becomes heavily integrated with the original story which isn't that action-packed yet wholly sets up the ghostly vengeance later on. When the murder happens and the ghostly stuff starts to happen, it gets infinitely better through the use of actually having stuff happening as those allow this one to surprisingly become far more watchable. With the last part of the film taken up by this use of classic Gothic horror tropes as the visions of the two ghosts appearing around the huts or appearing out of the swamp, moaning and madness all start to come into play here in a series of long, extended scare scenes that take on a fine form of revenge against him and even does correct some flaws found here. It doesn't have too many flaws about it to hold it back. The first half of this film has absolutely nothing of any real value as a horror film at all, looking absolutely like a lame drama about the social standing rather than anything to do with a ghost story, and it makes for some utterly boring and not at all interesting times. The endless talks of him trying to get a better life, the prodding from his friend who knows too much and the interactions with the wife all compound together to make this a pretty bland part of the story. As well, the film also really looks it's age with the set-based look of the villages and the cramped, confined feel completely destroys the intent of being out in the countryside the way it should be. The positives counteract some of these issues but not all of them, leaving this as a rather interesting take on the story but overall not much else.Rated Unrated/PG-13: Violence.


  • Accidental Murder: Iemon sees Ghost Oiwa on the bed mat looking all gross. He stabs her with his sword, only to find that he has really killed his new wife Ume. Then he sees Ghost Takuetsu approaching and runs him through with his sword, only to find that he has really killed his father-in-law Ito.

  • An Arm and a Leg: Before finishing off Takuetsu, Iemon slices his whole arm off with one slash of the sword.

  • As You Know: Iemon introduces himself to the audience by kneeling in front of Samo and saying "I, Iemon Tamiya, come to you to ask again for the hand of your daughter Iwa in marriage," thus identifying three characters in one sentence.

  • Body Horror: The poison that Iemon gives Oiwa doesn't just kill her, oh no. First it more or less melts half her face off, her skin erupting into a ghastly sheet of boils, her hair falling out in chunks.

  • Broken Bird: Oiwa, left broken and despairing in a miserable marriage to Iemon, but still doing stuff like fanning him as they lay down to sleep at night.

  • Catapult Nightmare: How Yomoshichi is revealed to be alive, as he has a nightmare of Oiwa's ghost.

  • Epic Tracking Shot: The first scene, minus the introductory kabuki bit, runs four minutes without a cut. Samo and his companion stroll down a path as the camera tracks them. The camera zips behind a tree as Iemon jumps out from concealment and pleads his case with Samo. Then, when an enraged Iemon attacks Samo and his companion, the camera goes back the way it came, following Iemon as he chases them down.

  • In the Back: Naosuke's favorite maneuver. This is how he stabs Yomoshichi before flinging him off a cliff, and how he murders Usaburo the bandit when pretending to get revenge for Samo.

  • Jidaigeki: Namely, the early 19th century period, several decades before the shogunate was ended and imperial government was restored. Sword-wielding samurai abound.

  • Jump Scare: Averted. The ghosts' arrivals are heralded with ominous drumbeats and visual cues before their appearance, rather than a simultaneous sudden appearance and Scare Chord.

  • Murder Into Malevolence: Oiwa in life was a cringing Broken Bird. Oiwa in death is a very angry ghost bent on Iemon's destruction. The ghost of Takuetsu is there to help out.

  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Ends with Yomoshichi and Osada, led to Iemon's monastery hideout by Oiwa's ghost, killing him. Yomoshichi says he's there for his father and Osada says she's there for her father and sister. Oiwa helps out during the fight as well; at one point her dead hand rises out of the earth and grabs Iemon's foot just as it seems that Iemon is about to whack off Osada's head.

  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Yomoshichi when Osade finally finds him again. Getting stabbed In the Back and thrown off a cliff didn't kill him; he was discovered by an old woman and nursed back to health.

  • Snakes Are Sinister: They sure are when they keep appearing in large numbers to the murderers.

  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Although the trope is said to date back to an 18th-century painting, the original kabuki play is probably the real Trope Maker. Dead Oiwa certainly fits all the tropes, soaked in water (Iemon threw the bodies into a river), clad in white with wet stringy hair, and a horrifically disfigured face just for giggles. Different from many other instances of this trope, however, in that Oiwa is focused solely on the man who killed her (though she does trick him into killing innocent people if it will hurt him to do so), rather than lashing out against random people like, say, the ghost in Ringu.

  • Taking You with Me: Non-vengeful version; after discovering that Iemon has poisoned her, the dying Oiwa declares that leaving her son in the hands of such a monster would be unforgivable, so ensures that he dies with her and moves on to a peaceful afterlife. It is implied by the fact that the son's ghost does not haunt Iemon, and is only seen in the final shot in the arms of his mother after she has achieved vengeance, that she succeeded in giving her son peace.

  • Toxic Friend Influence: Iemon is a bad guy all on his own, murdering two people in a fit of rage, emotionally abusing his Broken Bird wife, lusting for another woman. But Naosuke is the one who tends to urge him on to his worst deeds, like plotting the murder of Yomoshichi and poisoning his own wife.

  • Villain Protagonist: The story follows Iemon, a murdering samurai who poisons his wife when she becomes inconvenient. While his partner in crime Naosuke comes across as The Sociopath, Iemon does seem to have a guilty conscience, as seen when he begs his wife's ghost for forgiveness at the end.

  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: An angry confrontation between Iemon and Naosuke ends with Naosuke, who has grown tired of both Iemon's moping and Iemon's hostile attitude, daring Iemon to strike him down. Naosuke mocks Iemon for being a badass samurai but not actually having the guts to kill him. Then Iemon strikes him down and kills him.

  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once Oiwa is dead and he no longer needs her to be seduced/raped to give him a pretext for divorce, he Iemon kills Takuetsu with a sarcastic quip about punishing him for the "adultery" (which he had paid Takuetsu to commit).

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