A very interesting and atmospheric collection of films with a wonderfully captivating sound design that lends to the chilling and, often times, unsettling nature of the scenes portrayed. Very psychological, in aspect, rather than visually terrifying, but lacking none of the expressionism necessary to carry the subjective terror into the external world beyond!
Based on Lafcadio Hearn's collection of folk tales, Kwaidan is quiet and fairy tale-like, whose strengths lie not only in the calm suspense, but also in the expressionist visuals that add to the sense of otherworldliness. Kwaidan definitely belongs to the wide horror genre spectrum, although because of the folklore background, it may not be intended to scare you shitless, but to exude creepy supernatural atmosphere.
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.
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.