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Kwaidan (1964)

Kaidan (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy, Horror | 22 November 1965 (USA)
Trailer
1:28 | Trailer
A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes.

Director:

Masaki Kobayashi

Writers:

Yôko Mizuki (screenplay), Lafcadio Hearn (novel) (as Yakumo Koizumi)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michiyo Aratama ... First wife (segment "Kurokami")
Misako Watanabe Misako Watanabe ... Second Wife (segment "Kurokami")
Rentarô Mikuni ... Husband (segment "Kurokami")
Kenjirô Ishiyama ... Father (segment "Kurokami")
Ranko Akagi Ranko Akagi ... Mother (segment "Kurokami")
Fumie Kitahara Fumie Kitahara ... (segment "Kurokami")
Kappei Matsumoto Kappei Matsumoto ... (segment "Kurokami")
Yoshiko Ieda Yoshiko Ieda ... (segment "Kurokami")
Otome Tsukimiya Otome Tsukimiya ... (segment "Kurokami")
Kenzô Tanaka Kenzô Tanaka ... (segment "Kurokami")
Kiyoshi Nakano Kiyoshi Nakano ... (segment "Kurokami")
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Mi nokichi (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Keiko Kishi ... Yuki the Snow Maiden (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Yûko Mochizuki ... Minokichi's mother (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Kin Sugai Kin Sugai ... Village woman (segment "Yuki-Onna")
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Storyline

This film contains four distinct, separate stories. "Black Hair": A poor samurai who divorces his true love to marry for money, but finds the marriage disastrous and returns to his old wife, only to discover something eerie about her. "The Woman in the Snow": Stranded in a snowstorm, a woodcutter meets an icy spirit in the form of a woman spares his life on the condition that he never tell anyone about her. A decade later he forgets his promise. "Hoichi the Earless": Hoichi is a blind musician, living in a monastery who sings so well that a ghostly imperial court commands him to perform the epic ballad of their death battle for them. But the ghosts are draining away his life, and the monks set out to protect him by writing a holy mantra over his body to make him invisible to the ghosts. But they've forgotten something. "In a Cup of Tea": a writer tells the story of a man who keep seeing a mysterious face reflected in his cup of tea. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In the tradition of "RASHOMON" and "GATE OF HELL" See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The four vignettes were chosen to represent the four seasons of the year. See more »

Goofs

In the last scene, spotlight falls on a cup of tea which lies on a floor, farther from other cutlery set items, but in the scene before, the cup was lying right next to a wooden tea tray. See more »

Alternate Versions

A 163 minute version is now available on Region 1 DVD as a part of the Criterion Collection. The (Region 2) Masters of Cinema DVD is the first video release to contain the full 183 minutes of the original Japanese cut of the film. See more »

Connections

Featured in Cineficción Radio: Horror japonés (2019) See more »

User Reviews

 
Underappreciated, creepy little film
14 February 2001 | by SpeechlessSee all my reviews

Kwaidan is one of the great underappreciated films: no one's heard of it, but you'll never, ever forget it once you've seen it. Parts of it may seem slow to some viewers, and most of the stories are extremely predictable, but I have to say this is one of the most beautiful, haunting movies I've ever seen.

Of all the stories I prefer "Black Hair," the first one. Though a rather pointless horseback archery scene just slows it down, it's by far the scariest and most nightmare-worthy of the stories, using sound to incredibly chilling effect. There's more terror in the last minute of this segment than in all three Scream movies put together. Trust me, if you consider yourself a serious fan of horror cinema, you have to see this.

The second story, "The Woman of the Snow," is good, though I wish it ended more like "Black Hair" (you'll see what I mean). "Hoichi the Earless," with its jaw-dropping sea battle sequence, is by far the biggest and most popular of the stories. It's also the most influential, with its main premise prominently re-used in Conan the Barbarian. The film ends with "In a Cup of Tea." This is the only story that doesn't completely telegraph its ending, and coming after three utterly predictable stories, its complexity is a bit unexpected and disorienting. Certainly it's as creepy and beautiful as the rest of the film, but I have to admit I don't really understand it.

Being a tremendous fan of elegant, understated horror movies, as well as a student of Japanese culture, I consider this film one of my all-time favorites. Granted, some viewers may be turned off by the leisurely pace and the theatrical, intentionally unrealistic sets. But this is undeniably a beautiful and chilling film, absolutely perfect to watch late at night, alone, in the dark.


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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

22 November 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ghost Stories See more »

Filming Locations:

Japan

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Box Office

Budget:

JPY350,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (heavily cut) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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