Shinshaku Yotsuya kaidan: kôhen (1949) Poster

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7/10
The Ghost of Yotsuya Part II
Scarecrow-883 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Picking up where the story left off in part 1, Iemon Tamiya and Naosuke coerce Takuetsu, the masseur, into helping them get rid of the dead bodies of Oiwa and Kohei. As planned, Tamiya marries Oume and Naosuke seeks blackmailing profit. But, we witness the perfect crime fall apart thanks to Yomoshichi and Osode's search for Oiwa while Kohei's mother yearns to find her son, with a troubling feeling that he's dead. Also escalating is Tamiya's guilt and madness, plagued by hallucinations and nightmares of the image of Oiwa, eventually frightening Oume for whom he believes she is at times. Meanwhile, Naosuke becomes a major nuisance, demanding money from Tamiya, mistreating Omaki who he used to gain influence within the Ichimonji-ya family, and threatening Osode & Yomoshichi to put aside their investigation into a potential murder of Oiwa. Takuetsu doesn't make Naosuke's life any easier, asking for "hush money" thanks to concealing his knowledge regarding the whereabouts of Kohei and Oiwa..the elder masseur doesn't know what evil intent Naosuke has in store for him. Also developing is an ex-husband of Omaki looking for Naosuke for his involvement in the interruption of the jailbreak.

Lots going on in this close to the two-part melodrama about the repercussions of murder for personal gain. Those involved must answer for their misdeeds and, unfortunately for Tamiya, he will realize Naosuke's treachery, not to mention, face the horrors of his own transgressions, his errors psychologically manifesting, endangering those women who even remotely resemble Oiwa. Director Keisuke Kinoshita's style is certainly crude, at times, but he establishes some impressive set-pieces such as the fiery Inchimonji-ya family's estate in the climax as Tamiya chases after Oume, and eventually Naosuke, as a giant inferno erupts. The camera work can be a bit sloppy and certain scenes could've been set up more effectively(..some chases, consisting of Naosuke either attempting to kill someone, or avoiding a foe coming toward him with a sword, are pulled back so far you can barely see the action), but I felt that Japanese film-making in it's early stages was just developing and can accept that the process was evolving..certain inadequacies were bound to emerge as filmmakers grew familiar with the medium. But, the story itself I found gripping even though I expected the outcome because crime doesn't pay and those who participate in such an act must suffer persecution for their involvement. Deceptively classified as horror, but THE GHOST OF YOTSUYA PART II is more of a morality tale without the single use of a ghost(..in the literal sense)at all. That was indeed disappointing because I was expecting to see Tamiya tormented by Oiwa's ghost, and instead he was tortured by the manifestations of his own psyche(..you rarely see Oiwa's face, just Tamiya's terrified expressions).
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7/10
If You've Made It This Far...
boblipton23 August 2019
THis is the second half of a two-part movie. It follows THE YOTSUDA PHANTOM. Ronin Ken Uehara and gangster Osamu Takizawa, have just killed Kinuyo Tanaka in a horrifying fashion, and gotten rid of a witness or two. They've sunk the bodies..... but apparently the lady's spirit haunts her sister (also played by Miss Tanaka) and Uehara. The murderers' plans gradually disintegrate under a a police investigation and Uehara's apparent insanity. Will Takizawa wind up killing everyone?

It's based on a play by Nanboku Tsuruya (1759-1829), a kabuki playwright given to supernatural and macabre themes. This was turned into a movie several times, beginning with a silent version in 1925. Although director Keisuke Kinoshita did not write the screenplay, he had a fondness for kabuki, and made a couple of other movies that show the form's influence, particularly THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA; the strong moral components and violent themes seem to have resonated with him.
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5/10
Too long, too melodramatic
ebeckstr-110 September 2021
Kinoshita's 1949 adaptation of the classic story is essentially a melodrama about villains doing anything they can to get ahead, with a guilt melodrama as the psychological basis for the ostensible "supernatural" element. The latter really does not come into play until the very end of part two of this two-part movie, and even then it's merely a punctuation mark at the conclusion of the two and a half hours that precedes it.

Nakagawa's 1959 version of the tale is far better in every way. The 1949 version is too long and slowly paced, the score is too melodramatic, the melodrama itself is overwrought, as is the acting. The one thing this version has going for it are a good many beautiful tracking shots, which is the movie's defining stylistic characteristic.

Regarding the pacing, I have no problem with long movies. The problem here is that Kinoshita's attempt at telling this story is not methodically or deliberately paced; it is fidget-inducing. At least 40 minutes could have been edited out with nothing lost in terms of story, theme, character development, or visual appeal.

On the other hand the 1959 version is beautiful to look at, very well acted and edited, with a subtle score that punctuates the the mood and action without overwhelming it.

I can't imagine sitting through Kinoshita's film a second time, whereas I've seen Nakagawa's version twice and would buy it if it ever gets a decent Blu-ray release. (As of this writing, September 2021, both versions are streaming on the Criterion channel but neither has a Criterion disc release.)
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5/10
Mildly Creepy; Far From Scary!
net_orders26 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
YOTSUYA KAIDAN, PART II (SHINSHAKU YOTSUYA KAIDAN: KOUHEN). Viewed on Streaming. Score = six (6) stars; cinematography = six (6) stars; lighting = two (2) stars; restoration = one (1) star. Director Keisuke Kinoshita wraps up his stretched-out tale involving a wimpy, unemployed samurai who murders wife #1 in order to marry a rich wife # 2, and is immediately and endless remorseful to the point of imaging the seeing of wife # 1 all over the place. The Director cleverly factors in a number of strange events and starts to build ghostly suspense in the first half of the story. Unfortunately, this momentum evaporates with the subsequent endless, tedious, over-the-top emoting of lead actor Shigeru Amachi in the role of the wife-murdering (and wimpy) samurai as well as subplots involving multiple levels of blackmail. A house fire (see below) finally puts the hammy samurai character out of the viewer's misery. Actor Osamu Takizawa delivers the best performance by far as a self-declared, one-man Yakuza! The film provides an incredulous "Hollywood Happy Ending" with an after-life shot of the samurai and wife # 1 strolling among (what else?) cherry blossoms! The production seems overly "stage-bound," as action is mostly limited to running and jumping around a small interior set especially during a spectacularly-photographed fire at the film's conclusion (see below). Further, lead actresses and actors seemed to have learned their trade on the live stage given their stilted mannerisms (or perhaps this is just due to poor direction?). Cinematography (narrow screen, black and white) is very good. There are several fine tracking shots and the fire scenes at the end of the movie make it appear as if actresses and actors are right on the middle of a burning set! Lighting is mostly poor with many scenes just too dark to determine what is happening. Score is fine. Subtitles are close enough. Restoration is among the missing. This is a 70-year old film, and, sadly, it sure looks and sounds like it! Not especially recommended. WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.
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