The heir to a family fortune discovers that a curse has been placed on it, put there centuries before by a band of samurai warriors. —IMDb
Yoshitaro Nomura, Japanese film director (b. April 23, 1919, Tokyo, Japan—d. April 8, 2005, Tokyo), pioneered the film noir genre in Japanese cinema. The son of film director Hotei Nomura, Yoshitaro Nomura signed with the Shochiku film studio when he was 22 years old and made his directorial debut with Hato (Pigeon) in 1953. Though he made samurai dramas and musicals, he was best known for his film noirs, including his masterpiece Suna no utsuwa (1974; Castle of Sand), a thriller that follows the investigation of a murdered police officer; it was considered among the finest films ever made in Japan. —Britannica
Kosuke Kindaichi is to Japan who Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe are to the US. Except he is no paragon of manliness; instead he's awkward, kind of odd looking, spacey, and has chronic dandruff. Personally, the best Kindaichi films will always be the ones directed by Kon Ichikawa and starring Kôji Ishizaka, who for all intents and purposes IS Kindaichi. But Yoshitaro Nomura's adaptation of one of the most famous Kindaichi stories, Village of Eight Gravestones, updated to the modern day is a pretty good adaptation in itself. The story revolves around a young man named Tetsuya Terada who discovers that he is the heir to a vast fortune controlled by an eccentric family living in a remote village steeped in local superstition and tradition. But before he even gets to the village, his grandfather, who he only just meets, is murdered, and it isn't long before more bodies begin to turn up upon Terada's arrival in the village. The mysteries in the Kindaichi movies are never anything special, they always revolve around fortunes, family secrets, and serial killings. And the killer can be spotted a mile away. Where the series really shines is its array of eccentric characters. Kindaichi never really spends much time on-screen, and in this one, it is almost halfway through the 150 minute running time before he finally shows up, and even then, his role is reduced to the periphery. But he's a great character, and when I fantasize of being a private eye, I imagine myself not as Humphrey Bogart, but as Kosuke Kindaichi. Nomura's direction is nothing special compared to Ichikawa's, but his colorful, soft-focused melodrama does carry with it a certain appealing charm. Overall, an enjoyable flick that kills a few hours.
This is the best of the Nomura films I've seen, which isn't saying much, but it's a well-done, thorough mystery that's easy to get into, despite having this weird quality of the "mysterious feminine" which gets annoying in movies. Makes me want to see Inugami Family, '76, and some of the other adaptations from the Kindaichi series.