Kuroneko [藪の中の黒猫, Yabu no Naka no Kuroneko] (1968)
AKA Black Cat
Starring Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi, Kei Sato, Taiji Tonoyama, Rokko Toura, Hideo Kanze, Eimei Esumi, Masashi Oki, Rika Mizuki
Directed by Kaneto Shindo
Expectations: High, Onibaba was awesome.
Kaneto Shindo achieved overseas artistic success with Onibaba, and Kuroneko sees him returning to the horror genre that propelled his career. In many ways, Kuroneko echoes the characters and themes of Onibaba, but it never seems cheap, instead coming off almost like a ghost story version of Onibaba. Where Onibaba was concerned with a mother and her daughter-in-law’s struggle for survival, Kuroneko focuses on a mother and daughter-in-law who are raped and killed within the opening scene of the film. Their spirits are reawakened by their black cat, and they vow to drink the blood of every living samurai to get revenge on the samurai that did them wrong. Their son/husband was off at war just like his counterpart in Onibaba, but in Kuroneko he returns home to find his home burned to the ground and his loved ones gone.