Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 18th, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1968
Director: Nobuo Nakagawa
Writer: Nobuo Nakagawa
Cast: Seizaburô Kawazu, Kunio Murai, Akemi Negishi, Kô Nishimura
DVD released: August 28th, 2007
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: A wealthy landowner named Chobei Onuma is haunted after a curse is placed upon him by one of his tenants whose untimely death was a direct cause of the landowners’ greed. Onuma forces the dead farmers’ wife and daughter to work for him to help pay off the remaining debt that he left behind. After each new evil dead the curse soon expands to the rest of the Onuma clan who like their patriarch Chobei Onuma start seeing those who they wronged come back from beyond as ghost.
Snake’s Woman’s Curse was directed by Nobuo Nakagawa who also directed other classic tales with a supernatural twist like Jigoku, Ghost Story of Yotsuya and Ghost of Hanging in Utusunomiya. Snake Woman’s Curse was his first film after a six year absence from filmmaking and the end result is on par with his strongest cinematic efforts. Story wise the structure and pacing of Snake Woman’s Curse is near perfect. The menace slowly builds into an orgasmic crescendo in the films finale. Visually the film is breath taking is its beauty and it is filled to the brim with atmosphere.
Virtually all of the violence is done off screen with the real horrors being left to the viewers imagination. This film doesn’t really feature any out and out scary moments per say and yet what horrors it contains are more grotesque in nature then frightening. One underlying theme that rides through out the film is the class system in Japan during the era when this film takes place. I really liked how Nobuo Nakagawa gave his own spin the class system by basically showing that even money can’t save you from your guilty past.
Snake Woman’s Curse like most of Nobuo Nakagawa films is deeply rooted in the exploration of spirituality. Nakagawa shows us that there is not only life in the flesh on earth but that there is something even grander in the after life. Also in many ways I noticed that the way he depicted things that occurred to those who are still alive was like they were living in hell while those who had passed on had found their nirvana. This is really driven home during the films final moment.Ultimately if you like atmospheric ghost stories that are rooted in revenge then you should check out Snake Woman’s Curse.
Snake Woman’s Curse is another superb transfer from Synapse which boasts vivid colors and razor sharp detail. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio. Just like their transfer for Horrors of Malformed Men this transfer looks nearly flawless.
The films original Japanese language track has been included and English subtitles that are error free have been provided. The audio mix is in great shape and there are no audio defects.
The extras for this release while sparse are all worth while and insightful especially Japanese Film Scholar Jonathan M. Hall’s audio commentary. Other extras include the original Japanese trailer with English subtitles, a Nobuo Nakagawa Poster Gallery & Biography, liner notes by Japanese film scholar Alexander Jacoby and reversible cover with original Japanese poster artwork. Overall Snake Woman’s Curse is yet another winner from Synapse that gives fans and first time viewers of this film the best possible audio/video presentation of this film to date on home video, highly recommended.