Hiroku Kaibyoden (1969)

aka The Haunted Castle
Article 3140 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-11-2010
Posting Date: 3-20-2010
Directed by Tokuzo Tanaka
Featuring Kojiro Hongo, Naomi Kobayashi, Rokko Toura
Country: Japan
What it is: Japanese horror film

A lord’s family and house are haunted by a murderous ghost cat that turns into a female vampire.

Given that the print I saw was in unsubtitled Japanese, I’m hard pressed to ferret out plot details, but the situation is familiar; it’s your basic “revenge from beyond the grave” tale. It’s very moody, and makes excellent use of color, shadow, startling imagery (including a scene where a cat laps up the blood of a woman who has committed suicide), and especially sound; I watched this one on my computer with headphones, and the sudden shrieks and noises are really effective. The music is mostly effective, though there were a few times where certain musical motifs were overused. It’s based on a legendary “ghost cat” story from Japan, and this is the first version I’ve seen, and the thrust of the story isn’t really a whole lot different than the various “Ghost of Yotsuya” movies I’ve seen; the concept that ghosts will lure you into killing those around you is used at one point.


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