Yabu no naka no kuroneko (1968)
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- 99 min.
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Kuroneko (AKA The Black Cat AKA A Black Cat in a Bamboo Grove, which idiomatically refers to a mystery that's difficult to unravel) is a beautiful-looking ghost/demon story by director Kaneto Shindô - deep pools of black and brightly-lit whites creating amazing atmosphere as he takes the samurai film down for its toxic masculinity. In the opening moments of the film, two women are raped and killed samurai, so once they've been empowered to kill all samurai as cat demons by the god of evil, we're basically with them. It's a folk tale more than a horror story. The horror comes from their demise, and what happens later when their son/husband comes home, having been press-ganged into the army and freshly minted a samurai, one tasked with the destruction of the "monster" decimating the samurai army. What follows is pure tragedy as loved ones are pit against one another, a nightmarish dilemma from which no one will escape, with brilliant cinematography and some weird moments of feline mimetism. Tense, sad, and wonderful.
Director Kaneto Shindo accomplished something special stylistically with ''Onibaba'' and even more with this one - really cool stuff.
That snow falling between the bamboo in the end, all in magnificent black and white, looked truly marvellous.
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In 6 official lists
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This movie ranks #14 in Eureka!'s The Masters of Cinema Series
This movie ranks #52 in Galloway's Samurai Film Handbook & Companion
This movie ranks #83 in Butler's Fantasy Cinema: Impossible Worlds on Screen
This movie ranks #326 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films
This movie ranks #466 in Doubling the Canon
This movie ranks #667 in The Criterion Collection