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Fantasia 2010: Ricky D Recommends Kuroneko

Panorama-cinéma is collaborating with the 2010 edition of the Fantasia Film Festival to present three screenings of Kuroneko (1968), on July 9 (7:45pm, J.A. De Sève Theatre), July 14 (3pm, J.A. De Sève Theatre) and July 15 (6:30pm at the Cinémathèque Québécoise).

The intimate experience of a magnificent 35 mm print from Janus Films (distributor affiliated with Criterion Collection), is not to be missed since it is nowhere to be found in North America. This Japanese ghost movie is the inspiration behind the recent “j-horror” trend led by filmmakers such as Hideo Nakata (Ringu, Dark Water) and Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On).

Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko was released to great acclaim in 1968. The sparse, atmospheric horror story is more eccentric and more overtly supernatural than its breakthrough companion piece, Onibaba (1964). The eerie and romantic film is loosely based on the Japanese folktale The Cat’s Return — a mother and daughter-in-law are raped and murdered by pillagers, but return from the dead as vampiric cat spirits intent on revenge. As the ghosts lure soldiers into the bamboo groves, a fearless samurai, Gintoki is sent to stop their reign of terror.

Kuroneko remains a standout film of the kaidan eiga genre of period ghost stories often based on old legends or kabuki plays.