Kwaidan (Japan, 1965, 161 min.)
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1966 Academy Awards and winner of the Special Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival, Kwaidan is based on stories from Lafcadio Hearn’s collection of Japanese folk tales. Director Masaki Kobayashi’s dynamic interpretation creates chills of suspense in four separate but equally nightmarish tales: “The Black Hair”, “The Woman of the Snow”, “Hoichi the Earless,” and “In a Cup of Tea.” With vibrant sets of red skies, blue snowy trees, and fire balls that dance on their own, Kwaidan is a feast for the eyes. Truly a remarkable set for its time, each character’s performance adds to their perpetual downfall. Through battles, ex-wives, giant eyes, and demons, the slow building tension of the film creates a folklore tone. Including an exceptional score by composer Toru Takemitsu, the film’s natural noise embellishes the most mundane movement. A must for any person interested in horror film history and cinematic set development, Kwaidan illustrates to audiences that actions speak volumes, especially through the voice of the dead when seeking revenge.