Samurai soldiers rape and murder a woman and her daughter-in-law living alone in a house near the forest, but a black cat licking at their abandoned bodies spells trouble for the perpetrators: years later, as the same men happen one by one through the forest, each is seduced by two ghostly women and led to his doom. Kaneto Shindo directed this hypnotic Japanese chiller (1968), whose bold visual simplicity—the high-contast black-and-white photography; the dramatic compositions; the austere, kabuki-style staging—may leave you unprepared for the occasional bursts of kinetic, howling violence. Based on a Japanese folktale, the movie capitalized on the public appetite for period ghost stories (e.g. Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan), and it’s a classic of the genre—eerie, erotic, and unnerving. In Japanese with subtitles.
NR • 1 hour 39 min • 1968