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Kuroneko (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1968)

Kichiemon Nakamura , Nobuko Otowa , Kaneto Shindo  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi, Kei Sato, Taiji Tonoyama
  • Directors: Kaneto Shindo
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray 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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005D0RDRA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,274 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
136 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let This 'Black Cat' Cross Your Path... August 18, 2011
Format:Blu-ray
[KURONEKO aka BLACK CAT - (1968) - Directed by Kaneto Shindo - Widescreen Presentation] From the director of 'Onibaba' and 'The Island', this genuinely creepy, atmospheric (and somewhat obscure) classic finally gets a stateside release; even more blessed are we that it's getting the Criterion treatment. Riding the critical wave after 'Onibaba' was released, Kaneto Shindo, along with Kiyomi Kuroda, whose award-winning cinematography sets the tone for this film, brilliantly delivers the chills with an underlying tragic story of lost love and revenge, and its Chiaroscuro/Noir visuals are nothing short of breathtaking.

In feudal Japan, a warring group of marauding Samurai seeking food emerge from the dense forest when they come across a house that should have what they require. Upon entering the house, they find it indeed has what they want and a whole lot more...it has women as well. The inhabitants, an elderly woman and her young daughter-in-law are both subjected to continuous sexual assault as each Samurai takes his turn while others plunder the women's food stocks. After the Samurai have satiated their appetites, they leave the women, now unconscious, for dead and set fire to their home as they flee. When the fire eventually burns out, all we see are the burned and battered bodies of the women amid the ruins and their vulnerable black kitten as it licks their charred bodies, a dark and grisly moment captured purrrfectly.

Later on, one night a Samurai approaches on horseback and is met by the spectral vision of a woman, who tells him she is too frightened to make her journey home because she has to pass the Bamboo Grove, which is a known haven for bandits and highwaymen. The Samurai agrees to accompany her to her home, where he is plied with sake.
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67 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare & Welcome August 16, 2011
Format:Blu-ray
This is a film I have only seen on a crappy foreign bootleg copy --the picture was washed out and even muddy in patches and the sound was boxy, but the shortcomings of the poor transfer (from who knows what sources) were soon forgotten as I was immersed in the masterful storytelling and lovely atmospheric world of the filmmakers. This is a classic, old-school, Japanese ghost story, told at a measured pace and more creepy than shocking (which means it may not hold the attention of restless viewers who demand a rock'em-sock'em, CGI rollercoaster ride, and OMG --it's in black & white!), but it's just my cup of tea. I look forward to seeing this film decently presented, and you can always count on Criterion to get the job done.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Cat November 2, 2011
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I was blown away by this film.

I have really enjoyed films by Akira Kurosawa and wanted to branch out to other Japanese Director's work.

I bought this on a whim.

Its a haunting story that is tragic and romantic. Its also very sexy in its own way.

if you want to take chance and watch something startling and unique please give this film try.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning & drenched with atmosphere 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Expressionistic, Supernatural Experience November 25, 2011
Format:Blu-ray
It has been a long, long time since I have seen a film and became so enthralled with it that I chose to watch the same movie the very next day.

The film begins with a view of a forest as white fog glides through the trees. A kodo drum beats furiously...this changes to the sound of a cats' claw on a brick wall, then the sound becomes an eerie rattle. A quiet cottage by the edge of a bamboo glade is a scene of peace. Very silently, we see twenty poor samurai who emerge from the bamboo, drink like beasts from a spring, then discover the cottage, Inside the home are two peasant woman who farm for a living. After stealing their food, gang raping and leaving the females for dead, the warriors maliciously burn the cottage to the ground. Only a black cat remains, licking at the womens' bodies.

These two women, a mother and her daughter-in-law, become cat spirits who can shape shift into their former selves, albeit with strange cat eyebrows. In the next world, they pleaded with the god of evil to let them live as vampires so that they could wreak vengeance and bring death to all the samurai. Their aim is to lure the warriors into their forest home, seduce them, then tear out their throats. When victim and victim pile up, the cat spirits discover that the newest samurai they have targeted turns out to be the older woman's treasured son and the younger woman's dear husband. Alas, alas, he has been given the difficult instruction by his lord to rid the land of the cat ghosts. How can he do this?

The black and white photography is moody, sensual, abstract, expressionistic...and absolutely sensational. The contrast between pitch black and silver light creates a sense of the otherworld - a technique perfectly suited to a ghost story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Atmospheric and good story.
Published 1 month ago by John M. Cozzoli
5.0 out of 5 stars The cinematography is magical
This is now one of my favorites and especially considering that it is from an era of cinema that was profound in its creative endeavors. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dennis Waller
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lyric Unfolding
Poetic and evocative film, with images that haunt as only Japanese film makers seem capable of
producing. Being a "cat" person doesn't hurt the experience
Published 9 months ago by Entsphinxed
5.0 out of 5 stars terror in Old Japan
This is really a great movie. A terror tale in medieval Japan done in black and White. The interpretations remember Noh Theater as well the whole atmosphere
Published 11 months ago by Romeu França
4.0 out of 5 stars BOOO OOOO BOOOO
Very strange, but entertaining. But I'm a big fan of Japanese subtitle. So it helps to appreciate the culture. Enhances my library.
Published 12 months ago by honeycone
5.0 out of 5 stars Relique
It is amazing that the Vriterion Collection of Blu Rays give us the chance of enjoy reliques like this one with such a great quality. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Gaston San Cristobal
5.0 out of 5 stars summertime cooler
I first saw this film when I was a college student in 1974. I regard this film as one of the truly great vengeful ghost stories. Read more
Published 15 months ago by gerhardt
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
Awesome movie!!! If you like Japanese cinema then this is a must have in your collection! Very creepy film and beautifully done.
Published 16 months ago by Deal Grabber!
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you.
I totally enjoyed this ghost story. It was very scary, but fun to watch with my family. Thank you and sorry for the late response.
Published 16 months ago by Aileen A Sasao
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Gothic Ghost Story
Yabu No Naka No Kuroneko (The Black Cat from the Grove, shortened to just Kuroneko) is a masterpiece of Gothic horror directed by Kaneto Shindo and released in 1968. Read more
Published 18 months ago by David A. Wend
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