A Japanese box-office sensation in 1968, Kuroneko is a sparse, atmospheric horror story, adhering to Kaneto Shindo's philosophy of using beauty and purity to evoke emotion. Eccentric and more overtly supernatural than its breakthrough companion piece, Onibaba (1964), 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 review by Jawbreaker
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Shindo-san returns to the same themes he visited with the classic Onibaba. However they are distinctly seperate tales of revenge, but his classic style is evident through the splendid angles, cinematography and atmospheric lighting. There is no dialogue during the first ten minutes, as a mother and daughter are visited by a group of marauding samurai. Soon their lust for food turns to the flesh and the women do not survive their ordeal. Pledging themselves to the evil gods, they invoke a curse to suck the blood from any samurai. The hero of this tale left beforehand a soldier and returns as a samurai, soon embarking on a quest to find his wife and mother, or discover their fate. What he uncovers are enemies beyond his comprehension, yet he it tasked with ridding the bamboo forest of this evil curse. Kuroneko is a classic example of Japanese cinema, thought provoking and haunting, it is beautiful to behold.