It's the sound that lives on in the mind, although the imagery is indeed strong being a triumph of artificiality (reminiscent of Hein Heckroth's work for The Archers). The dissonance from the discursive musique concrete cuts through and against these stagey visuals to disquieting effect, although 'effect' is the word, as this is a glacially removed work inviting observation only with little emotional resonance.
I adored it, quite a staggering achievement. The Woman in the Snow and Hoichi the Earless are certainly the two best, but the more I think about Black Hair the more I like it, In a Cup of Tea was good but that ending was slightly unfortunate, but again, the more I think about it the more I like it. Visuals are sublime, a great film.
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.
The ghost stories that Kobayashi chose are familiar to most Japanese children. I first saw this film as a child, and even while knowing how the stories ended, it still scared the crap out of me. As an adult, I have come to appreciate the artistry and haunting beauty of this film.
Had the pleasure of showing this twice during a festival and audiences loved it as much as I did. The Criterion transfer is of course stunning and the visuals in the film are unique and terrifying! Well worth a Halloween rental or any other day of the year.