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Kuroneko (Criterion Collection)


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Kuroneko (Criterion Collection) + Onibaba (The Criterion Collection) + Kwaidan (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi, Kei Sato, Taiji Tonoyama
  • Directors: Kaneto Shindo
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: October 18, 2011
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005D0RDPM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,345 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

New high-definition digital restoration

Video interview with director Kaneto Shindo

New video interview with critic Tadao Sato

Theatrical trailer

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Maitland McDonagh and more!


Editorial Reviews

In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with his own personal demons as well. From Kaneto Shindo, director of the terror classic Onibaba, Kuroneko (Black Cat) is a spectacularly eerie twilight tale with a shocking feminist angle, evoked through ghostly special effects and exquisite cinematography.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
Very creepy film and beautifully done.
Deal Grabber!
Torn between family, honor, religious & social demands, they recognize the trap they're in, one determined by outside forces they've internalized.
William Timothy Lukeman
Poetic and evocative film, with images that haunt as only Japanese film makers seem capable of producing.
Entsphinxed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Previous reviewers have justly praised this film at length, and I'm glad to add my praise to theirs. Simply put, this Japanese tale puts modern attempts at horror to shame. Filmed in gorgeous black & white, utilizing the most basic of special effects, and suffused with a powerful erotic & psychological current that strikes to the heart of the viewer, it draws you in deeper & deeper until the eerily still & silent end.

What makes it so memorable?

First of all, it offers strong characters with powerful, contradictory emotional drives. Torn between family, honor, religious & social demands, they recognize the trap they're in, one determined by outside forces they've internalized. Yet they're unable to resolve those contradictions & save themselves. This sense of the inexorable only grows stronger as the story progresses.

So our young farmer-turned-samurai is faced with the bloodthirsty ghosts of his wife & mother, who have vowed to destroy all samurai, but retain enough of their memories & humanity to want to spare him. For his part, he relishes his rise in social status, yet desperately wants to be reunited with his wife & mother, partly out of guilt for not being there to save them.

Then there's the cinematography & the bold direction of Kaneto Shindo, making superb use of dense masses of shadow & sudden pools of unearthly light. There's a minimum of gore & gratuitous shock; instead, the emphasis is on atmosphere & tension, brought to a slow & almost unbearable boil. It has a dreamlike quality, one that can turn from haunted beauty to outright nightmare in an instant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Lachmund on July 16, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful Japanese film classic, by the same director of ONIBABA & in my opinion is better than that more famous film. This is wonderfully eerie, atmospheric & magicly surreal with stunning cinematography & editing. It's spooky, erotic & tragic at the same time. I agree with Frank Gorshin's comments but would like to know: HOW do you hack a DVD player for PAL, non-USA format? This film is an overlooked classic (like Saragossa Manuscript) & SHOULD be available in the US for screening & video viewing. "Horror" at it's most beautiful & artistic!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 20, 2011
Format: DVD
Edgar Allan Poe's famous story has the titular character getting its revenge at the end of the story. KURONEKO (black cat in Japanese), the second of director Kaneto Shindo's two great stylized horror films (after ONIBABA), has not one but two characters getting revenge not once but many times. A mother and her daughter-in-law are raped and murdered by a roaming band of samurai and then their house is burned to the ground. A black cat, who survives the fire, becomes the instrument of their revenge by being transformed into spirit likenesses of the dead women. Having sworn vengeance on all samurai, they then lure any who cross their path to a secluded grove where they seduce and then savagely murder them. The core of the story arises when an acclaimed samurai warrior, sent to destroy the evil spirits, turns out to be the son to one and husband to the other.

As he did in ONIBABA, director-screenwriter Shindo incorporates pungent social observation into Japanese myth especially on how women are treated and on the glorification of samurai culture. The helpless, victimized women of the opening are transformed into powerful, avenging agents of destruction while the samurai are depicted as proud, lustful, and stupid with the exception of the son who has issues of his own. Will he destroy the spirits of his mother and wife? Can they bring themselves to destroy him as they have sworn to do? These questions and others make KUROKENO food for thought as you watch one of the most beautifully stylized films that Japan has to offer. The black and white photography is crisp and vivid, the soundtrack is atmospheric and captivating, and the performances by the three principals are outstanding. If you enjoy Japanese cinema, then KUROKENO is a must see.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. J. Harvey on September 23, 2010
Format: DVD
Japanese cinema in the 1960's was marked by a wave of ghost stories."Onibaba" by the director Kaneto Shinda was a big hit in 1964 ,not just in Japan but in overseas markets.Perhaps suprisingly in light of this success it took the director some time to return to the genre and it was not until 1968 that he came out with "Kuroneko",another slab of moody monochrome ghostliness.

The movie begins with a shot of a hut near a bamboo forest; several samurai emerge and enter the hut where they rape and murder the two female residents, the mother (Nobuko Otowa) and her daughter (Kiwako Taichi),before burning the place down and leaving.A black cat emerges and licks the b;ood from their faces ,this serving to restore the dead to life as vampiric ghosts.They vow to exact revenge for their deaths by killing any samurai coming within their path.

Ginotki (Kichremon Nakamura) is a peasant boy ,elevated to the ranks of the samurai by virtue of his wartime heroics and he is despatched by his arrogant master to destroy the ghosts ,only to discover they are his own wife and mother.The theme of love in conflict with duty then takes over as the "motif"of the second part of the picture as Ginotki must confront his loved ones demonic apparitions .
Ginotki is introduced in a conventionally heroic way ,riding on horseback across dangerous terrain to the sound of stirring martial music ,but it is clear he is not wholly comfortable in his new ,elevated social position.He is of peasant stock and is patronised by his preening elitist master Raiko (Kei Sato) .Thus ,social class forms an important subtect to the ghostly goings on.
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