Onibaba (1964)



Directer:Kaneto Shindô   Producer:Hisao Itoya, Tamotsu Minato, Setsuo Noto

Writter:Kaneto Shindô   Music:Hikaru Hayashi   Cinematography:Kiyomi Kuroda  Editor:Toshio Enoki  Running time:103 min    Country:Japan Language:Japanese Genre:Horror    Subtitle: English/
Nobuko Otowa ... Kichi''s Mother, Jitsuko Yoshimura ... Kichi''s Wife,
Kei Satô ... Hachi, Jûkichi Uno ... Samurai General, Taiji Tonoyama ... Ushi




Blue Ribbon Awards
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1965 Won Blue Ribbon Award Best Cinematography
Kiyomi Kuroda 
Best Supporting Actress
Jitsuko Yoshimura 

Deep within the wind-swept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a lonely, desperate existence. Forced to murder lost samurai and sell their belongings for grain, they dump the corpses down a deep, dark hole and live off of their meager spoils. When a bedraggled neighbor returns from the skirmishes, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio’s tenuous existence, before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals the trio’s horrifying fate. Driven by primal emotions, dark eroticism, a frenzied score by Hikaru Hayashi, and stunning images both lyrical and macabre, Kaneto Shindo’s chilling folktale Onibaba is a singular cinematic experience.

After being forcefully inducted as a soldier into war in 14th century Japan, his wife and mother remain living in a swamp. They eke out their living by ambushing worn-out warriors, killing them and selling their belongings to a greedy merchant. The woman comes to mistrust her daughter-in-law who has coupled up with a deserter, and begins to wear a facial mask she has taken from a slain samurai. Soon the mask will not come off again. In this disguise she is at first taken for a demon by her daughter. Written by Michael Jurich <jurich@rummelplatz.uni-mannheim.de>


Director Kaneto Shindo''s ONIBABA is a fantastic, rich, atmospheric horror film set in an amazing rural location. Its influence on decades of rural-set genre pics is undeniable.

In a medieval, warring Japan, a wild, young woman and her mother-in-law rob and kill lost samurai in order to survive. Problems begin when the younger woman becomes involved with an intended victim.

Staged in a rural world of tall, swaying grass and swollen rivers, the film contains little dialogue and little exposition. It relies heavily on the non-verbal performances of the female leads and the superbly conveyed location.

It is erotic, creepy, sensual, savage and beautiful.

Cinematic poetry.