Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 19th, 2014
BluRay released: March 31st, 2014
Approximate running times: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.44:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Japanese
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £24.99
Synopsis: During a battle with a rival clan Akemi Tachibana (Meiko Kaji) accidentally blinds Aiko Gouda (Hoki Tokuda) when the blade of her sword cuts her eyes. At that moment a black cat appears out of nowhere and laps up Aiko’s blood. Akemi believes that cat and drinking of the blood mean that she is now forever cursed. Years later a mysterious blind woman arrives in town and shortly there after those close to Akemi are murdered. Is Akemi really cursed or is this blind woman behind these devious acts against Akemi’s clan?
Blind Woman’s Curse was made during director Teruo Ishii’s most futile period as a filmmaker. During this time he would start to infuse his unique style of grotesque imagery with more erotic based story lines. His film Horror of a Malformed Man made the previous year in 1969 is his defining statement as a filmmaker and he would continue to explore similar type themes throughout the rest of his career. Direction wise Blind Woman’s Curse is a visually candy store of carnage. Every moment is beautifully paced and every frame is stylish exploited with bizarre imagery. The films use of macabre with in the subtext of a Yakuza theme is flawless as the two genres are almost perfect mirror images of each other.
During this time in his career another thing that strong in virtually all of Teruo Ishii’s films is the acting. The star of the film is Meiko Kaji in her first major role as this film’s protagonist Akemi Tachibana. Kaji even at this point in her career had already begun to develop the traits we would later identify with her in such films like the Lady Snow Blood and Female Scorpion series. One to be outdone or overlooked is actress Hoki Tokuda who plays the blind swordswoman’s named Aiko Gouda. I was most impressed with Gouda’s performance which I feel is the strongest in the film. The film also injects a fare amount of comic relief with most of it coming from actors Makoto Satô (The Executioner, The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno) and Ryohei Uchida (Yakuza Deka: The Assassin, Yakuza Deka).
All great films besides having a solid cast and direction also have a memorable score. The score for Blind Woman’s Curse was composed by Hajime Kaburagi who other notable scores include Tokyo Drifter, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter and Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’s Grudge Song. Another key collaborator on Blind Woman’s Curse was screenwriter Chûsei Sone who would go onto direct several of Nikkatsu’s well regarded Pinku films like Naked Rashomon, Angel Guts: High School Coed and Angel Guts: Red Classroom. The horror elements in Blind Woman’s Curse are well done as the baroque images and set pieces look creepy and make the viewer feel uneasy. The films finale will leave you breathless as Akemi and Aiko dual under a storm filled sky with dust building up all around them. Ultimately Blind Woman’s Curse is one of the best examples of Pinky Horror.
Blind Woman’s Curse comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand new HI Def transfer has been created. This transfer’s biggest improvement is the sharpness of the image and the amount of detail in every frame. And though there is more clarity in the image, it should be pointed out that there is deliberate softness to the image that is intended. Another area of marked improvement is color saturation. DNR is kept in check and there are no issues with compression. Also though there is a healthy layer of grain that is present throughout the film. There are a handful of moments where the grain looks thicker and these moments tend to be during dimly lit scenes. Overall though I was thoroughly impressed seven years ago with Discotek’s transfer. This new transfer improves upon that transfer in every way and the end result is a transfer looks miles ahead of that aforementioned Discotek transfer.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. There are no issues with background noise or distortion. The more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented and the film’s core sounds robust throughout. Dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Overall this is a strong audio mix that is likely to impress not only those who are familiar with this film, but those who are just watching it for the first time.
Extras for this release include trailers for Blind Woman’s Curse (3 minutes 20 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (2 minutes 46 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (3 minutes 16 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo (2 minutes 40 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles) and Stray Cat Rock: Beat ’71 (2 minutes 35 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles) and a detailed and insightful audio commentary with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, The films visuals and its use of color, key sequences are analyzed, the cast and the characters that they are portraying, various titles that this film was released under, how Blind Woman’s Curse was a rare foray for Nikkatsu who were more known for their work in other film genres and how this film was one of Nikkatsu’s last film’s before they transition into Roman Porno, an overview of Japanese Horror cinema and its various genres, he gives detailed overviews of Meiko Kaji and Teruo Ishii careers.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty page booklet that comes with cast & crew info, an essay titled ‘Meiko’s Adventure in Professor Ishii’s Erotic-Grotesque Wonderland’ written by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD counterpart that includes all the contents present on the Blu-Ray disc included with this release. Overall Blind Woman’s Cruse gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.