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Onibaba

Onibaba 15 rating

Stylish, symbolic and erotically charged Japanese horror in which the fortunes of a murderous mother-and-daughter team are upended by a strangely masked samurai.

Period drama 1964 102 mins

Director: Kaneto Shindo

Overview

In a Japan ravaged by civil war, weary samurai are being ambushed and murdered by a ruthless mother (Nobuko Otowa) and daughter-in-law (Jitsuko Yoshimura) team. The women throw the samurai bodies into a pit, and barter their armour and weapons for food. While the daughter begins an affair with a neighbour (Kei Satô), the older woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre face-mask; two encounters which will alter their destinies.

Erotically charged and steeped in the symbolism and superstition of its Buddhist and Shintô roots, Kaneto Shindô’s Onibaba is in part a modern parable on consumerism, a study of the destructiveness of sexual desire and — filmed amid a claustrophobic sea of grass — one of the most striking and unique Japanese films of the 20th century.