Demons (1971)

DEMONS (1971)
aka Shura
Article 2347 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-29-2007
Posting Date: 1-15-2008
Directed by Toshio Matsumoto
Featuring Katsuo Nakamura, Yasuko Sanjo, Juro Kara

A samurai is cheated out of his money by a scheming geisha and her husband. His anger leads him down a path of bloody revenge.

I’m not sure to just what extent this movie falls into the area of the fantastic. An opening dream sequence turns out to be prophetic; the movie plays with time, occasionally going back to replay certain scenes so that they unfold differently (though these may be comparisons between the character’s vision of the events and the way they actually happen), and the revenge becomes bloody and extremely horrific, which certainly pushes it into the realm of horror. One character also finds himself haunted by those he has killed for a short sequence. At any rate, this is a stark, intense, shocking and brutal exploration of vengeance and the metaphorical descent into hell that comes with it. It’s definitely powerful moviemaking, It’s so powerful and effective for most of its running time that I feel a little bit disappointed that it falls short of perfect; my problem is that the violence ends up being so bloody that it goes into the realm of excess, and even becomes slightly comic towards the end, especially the scenes that involve the severed head. Still, this may not bother others, and if you’re in the mood for a dark, violent and bloody period drama, this one is recommended, though it’s definitely not for the squeamish or the faint of heart.


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