Four traditional Japanese ghost stories from director Masaki Kobayashi, shot on enormous studio sets with striking theatricality.
This Japanese horror anthology is full of ravishing images: a snow demon who strikes a bargain with an unwary woodcutter; a stately sea battle in the fog; courtesans committing suicide in blood-frothed water after their master has been killed; a man trying to foil demons by having prayers inscribed over his entire body but suffering when the painter misses his ears; a samurai who sees someone else’s reflection in his bowl of tea and unwittingly drinks the other man’s soul.
A film that has been plundered over and over (witness: Mishima, Conan The Barbarian, Tales From The Darkside, all those Ring/Grudge things), this is both gorgeous and scary.
It can still hold its own against the new generation of horror films still sourcing it. Well worth a look.