I first caught this on tv in the mid 90's and it completely fried my brain. Then in Japan I bought an amazing lavish laserdisc at Tower Records in Shibuya, which I have kept because it's so beautiful. I bought an LD player just to play it. The grade on the Jap version is more flat than the Criterion one which is frankly a fuck up. Go for the Masters of Cinema version, it matches my LD as far as artistic intent.
This hypnotic, spellbinding, and otherworldly Japanese ghost story anthology is the most beautifully composed and artistic horror film you will ever see. Colors, sets, and wide screen create a uniquely meditative mood in this subtle and reflective masterpiece with textures out of a painting.
This lavish production is certainly a feast for the eyes, words cannot describe how visually ravishing these four ghost stories are. And boy are there some incredible sequences. However the actual stories themselves range from mediocre to great, and it feels like the film lacks edge, it really doesn't suck the viewer in all too well, but it's still entertaining and well worth watching for the visuals alone.
Opening credit sequence alone is worth the watch. Haunting (surprise) and beautiful ghost stories!
well @ comment below, obviously not a fan of classic horror, eh?? Not even close as boring I say. One hell of a beautiful & stunning visuals. eerie, atmospheric and although it didn't count on special effects and long black haired women with white dress or pale kids running around popping on and off throughout with blasting music as they appear, this quite a unique experience, dreamy but lively. Way ahead of other classic horror of its time.
Scary?? Ehhh not really. But if you want to watch an anthology of 3 Japanese Folklore ghost stories you'll definitely enjoy this. Just remember sometimes it's very slow......but the VISUALS....the paintings....the sounds is what makes this movie. The story with the blind monk has some very MEMORABLE scenes....I won't ruin it but it involves ghosts and floating fireballs in a cemetary. I honestly thought this shit would be a masterpiece...because I am a horror fan...and I want shit to scare me!! But it was still a good experience....and I didn't have to pay for shit!
Going past the pure fantastic genre, KWAIDAN is a masterpiece. The ghost stories chosen by Kobayashi handle universal themes one could find for instance in Guy de Maupassant’s or Nicolas Gogol’s short stories. Snowy landscapes, forests and cemeteries are also settings conducive to the soul’s rovings. In short, the viewer is not confused in front of these stories, he recognizes them because he already heard them during his childhood but told differently. The stylized sets chosen by Kobayashi to present these stories are unique and reveal a true artist. Indispensable.
Without question one of cinema's finest artistic achievements. Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan is perhaps the ultimate Japanese film for me; the sets and camera work are breathtaking, the stories get inside you like a disease; as unforgettable and incurable as a roadside wreck. A masterpiece that must be seen to be believed; as flawless as they come.
As strange as it seems to mention, as much as I liked the anthology itself, I loved the title sequence to this film...