BYAKUYA NO YOJO (1958)
aka The Temptress and the Monk
Article 5343 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Eisuke Takazawa
Featuring Yumeji Tsukioka, Ryoji Hayama, Tadashi Kobayashi
What it is: Eerie Japanese horror/fantasy
A monk, lost in a sinister forest, seeks refuge at a house where a woman lives with her dwarf husband. She seduces passers-by and turns them into animals, but will she do so to the monk?
This is another one that ended up on my “ones that got away” list, but it apparently popped up on YouTube and someone pointed me the way to it. It’s in Japanese without English subtitles, but a basic plot description helped me to follow it, and though some of the plot details eluded me, I found it quite enjoyable. It’s well acted, has a nice visual sense, and has a lot of eerie atmosphere. In particular, I liked the use it made of animal sounds; every time you hear one you wonder if it’s made by one of the women’s conquests. The movie has only a mediocre reputation based on its rating on IMDB, and perhaps it’s less satisfying if you can understand the language, but on the terms that I saw it, I found it satisfying enough.