On May 29, 2012 Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindô died at the age of 100. Throughout his prolific career he directed 48 movies and wrote 238 screenplays. His films included the 1952 film Children of Hiroshima, which dealt with the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima and the very cool 1960 film The Naked Island about a family who lives on an island with no water so they must travel to another island to get water in order to survive. The film also contains no dialogue.
Shindô started working in the film industry in 1934. Before long he was Kenji Mizoguchi’s assistant. Later in his career Shindô made a documentary about Mizoguchi called After the war he continued writing screenplays (He even wrote a Zatôichi film. It was number 14 in the series and he finally started directing movies in 1951 with his first film The Story of a Beloved Wife . By 1964 Shindô made his first horror film Onibaba. It was about two women who murder wandering samurai and then sell their possessions. The film won multiple awards and international acclaim which leads to today’s Sunday Matinee film, Kuroneko.
Kuroneko was Shindô’s second horror movie. Made in 1968 the movie is about two women, a mother and her daughter-in law who were raped and horrible murdered by a group of traveling samurai. The samurai burn their house down, afterwards the pet black cat remains and licks at their corpses. The title of the film translates into Black Cat.
Later two alluring women appear before traveling samurai at night and lure them to their deaths in a majestic house that disappears when the sun rises. Meanwhile a young samurai returns home to discover his wife and mother missing and his home nothing but ashes. The samurai is then contracted by his master to destroy the two ghosts who are murder his men every night.
Shindô crafts a very cool old fashioned horror story that is eerie and brilliantly shot. The film is similar to his Onibaba but it has a more supernatural elements in it. The story is more tragic than horrifying but the film does have it’s moments, particularly at the end. Overall a very cool film.