Kwaidan 1964 ****

The perfect film for those who prefer ghosts to gore, Kwaidan is a portmanteau film, with four stories of the supernatural linked in chronological order. Adapted by Yoko Mizuki from the writings of Lafcadio Hearn circa 1903, and shot of luscious sound-stages, this 183 minute film rewards perseverance, with The Woman In the Snow the most haunting of the stories. It tells of a young woodsman lost in the snow, who happens upon a little cottage where a young woman rescues him. He promises never to tell the story of what has happened, but revenge is swift when he breaks his promise. Black Hair, Hoichi the Earless and In A Cup Of Tea are all similarly absorbing stories, rendered in a painterly manner by Masaki Kobayashi and the overall effect is soothing rather than disturbing. In a digital age, Kwaidan’s lengthy running time is best enjoyed over four nights, a book at bedtime for aficionados of Japanese culture and discerning horror fans alike.


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