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Onibaba (1964)

Unrated | | Horror | 4 February 1965 (USA)
Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask.




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Cast overview:
Nobuko Otowa ...
Kichi's Mother
Kichi's Wife
Kei Satô ...
Jûkichi Uno ...
Samurai General
Taiji Tonoyama ...
Someshô Matsumoto ...
Runaway Warrior A
Kentarô Kaji ...
Runaway Warrior B
Hosui Araya ...
Ushi's Follower
Fudeko Tanaka ...
Old Woman
Michinori Yoshida ...
Samurai with Blood
Hiroyoshi Yamaguchi ...
Horse Riding Samurai A
Hiroshi Tanaka ...
Horse Riding Samurai B
Kanzô Uni ...
Horse Riding Samurai C
Nobuko Shimakage ...


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. In this disguise she is at first taken for a demon by her daughter. Written by Michael Jurich <jurich@rummelplatz.uni-mannheim.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 February 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Devil Woman  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Initially refused a certificate in England by the BBFC in 1965, but resubmitted in 1968 where it was approved with an X classification albeit with some cuts. See more »


Woman: I'm not a demon! I'm a human being!
See more »


Referenced in Atman (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

Dogs In Heat
27 January 2000 | by (Marietta, GA) – See all my reviews

This particular flick caught my attention with the box description of "an old woman and her nubile young daughter lure unwary samurai into a wheatfield to rob and kill them." Well, there wasn't much luring...most of the samurais were just unlucky enough to wander into the old woman and nubile young daughter's home territory...but the movie was still a superb little find...in a suburban Blockbuster Video, of all places!

This movie, which I found to be faster paced than most Japanese period pieces, is just DRIPPING with weird psychological overtones. The story involves an old woman and her daughter-in-law living off the spoils of wars. Various samurai from countless wars are always stumbling into these bandits' territory and to be summarily jacked for their armor and weapons. It's one big happy family until an old comrade of the daughter's husband returns home and reports that the daughter's husband is dead. We're never really sure if this man killed the husband or not...but that issue is soon is overshadowed by the sexual tension of two women who haven't been with a fella for some time. Eventually, the nubile young daughter helps herself to this new lover, much to the jealous rage of her mother-in-law. So the old woman hatches a scheme to separate these two lovers...but keeping them apart is as difficult as keeping apart two dogs in...well, you get the idea.

The cinematography of this film is excellent. Each shot is meticulously and lovingly shot, building the tension and supplying the canine symbolism. The music is unusual too...it starts off with some hepcat bebop and then regresses into what I can only guess is theme music for an oni (Japanese ogre).

I would highly recommend Onibaba for those evenings where everyone feels a need to be disturbed and entertained at the same time. It also doesn't hurt that Jotsuki Yoshimuru, who plays the daughter-in-law, happens to be drop dead gorgeous...in a punk rock sort of way. You'll see what I mean when you check out this flick.

I doubt you'll find this flick at Blockbuster Video...unless you find one in the middle of a wheat field.....

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