Iemon Tamiya (Shigeru Amachi) is quite the scumbag. First, he kills every single person in Iwa’s (Kazuko Wakasugi) family just so that he can marry her. After doing away with most of them, he is able to get her, but soon they’re suffering in poverty, so Iemon decides to go and kill her wife. He poisons her, and she in turn kills their baby. Soon, Iemon will start to regret his decision, as Iwa returns from the dead as a frightening grey ghost, hell bent on vengeance.
This is one of Nobuo Nakagawa’s most famous films. He specialized in making really Japanese-influenced ghost stories, and this might be his most archetypical. The casting in this film is great. Shigeru Amachi is excellent in the lead role, but what makes him so has to be the fact that he’s so damn good-looking. You almost feel like saying “Geez he’s so hot, too bad he’s a prick”. The film is superbly directed by Nakagawa, who fills his film with the usual camera tricks and lighting effects that his scare films feature. Different gel colors, extensive sets. The makeup effects are also excellent, particularly on Iwa, who looks like a real monster when she returns from the dead.
It is interesting however, how the two-halves in the film are so different. The first forty minutes are almost like a soap opera, full of twists and turns. But the last half hour turns into complete horror show, featuring some of the scariest film sequences I’ve ever seen in a Japanese horror film. So like all of Nakagawa’s films, such as Jigoku and Snake Woman’s Curse (previously reviewed here), this comes highly recommended!