Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Blind Woman's Curse (Arrow US Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

I'm familiar with Nikkatsu which is to say I have enjoyed countless hours of hardcore pornography from Synapse during their 70's re-exploration of the human anatomy post-focus shift. That does not mean I know nearly enough to comment on the strength of Blind Woman's Curse in the Nikkatsu catalog, but I would urge those of you who are familiar with the production company, especially from the releases from Synpase to seek out a different Nikkatsu. Not necessarily kinder or gentler, but a studio that produced movies with a more clear narrative, ghostly presence and some rather intelligent choreographically powerful sequences. Arrow Video has given us a chance on the third of their US endeavor, available for viewing on Region A players.

To be honest I almost prefer to the pornography of the later Nikkatsu to the more structured, narrative fiction of Japan during the 60's and 70's. It's not that I cannot appreciate a ghost story or Japanese horror cinema in general, but it is not my preference. I've often struggled with influential films of the 60's and 70's coming out of Japan that focus on the supernatural as opposed to the less invasive, less though provoking fiction (think Kaiju). I give movies of this type a chance, appreciate strong visual presence but frown at the narrative that walks and meanders from slightly obscure reference to cultural novelty with which I am unfamiliar. Perhaps my lack of an open mind or research on this type of film, this genre, the supernal films of Asia during the 60's and 70's is at fault alone. I cannot connect save for a few action sequences and absolutely enticing end sequence in this case. It's almost easier to enjoy the later, adult offerings from this studio even with the lack of artistic merit found there in. Still I understand why it is great, though not my preference. You can hold Blind Woman's Curse right up there with a movie like Kwaidan, a movie that is six years Curse's senior. Kwaidan of course is considered the masterpiece of Japanese supernatural cinema and this is not its equal, but it is in the same class.

This release boasts colors that are robust, gorgeous. The palette is exotic and the transfer is shocking clear. The Arrow touch is not lost on this curse filled picture. The cover art is exquisite and lively.  Highlights include:
  • New high definition digital transfer of the film prepared by Nikkatsu Studios
  • Presented in High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD
  • Uncompressed mono PCM audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp
  • Original Trailer
  • Trailers for four of the films in the Meiko Kaji-starring Stray Cat Rock series, made at the same studio as Blind Woman's Curse
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
  • Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes, illustrated with original archive stills.
For fans of Lady Snowblood welcome Meiko Kaji to the screen in a full fledged role. For fans of Yakuza films, this is an early one with plenty of style beyond the fight sequence focus that has a few eerie moments to balance out the eternal battle for power on Earth as opposed to ether. It's a solid offering as a part of Arrow's US release schedule and rounds out a Spaghetti Western and Horror/Explotation feature in Day of Anger and Mark of the Devil respectively. 

You can order Blind Woman's Curse on Blu-ray/DVD combo available from Arrow in the US now. Releasing 4/21.

Akemi (Kaji) is a dragon tattooed leader of the Tachibana Yakuza clan. In a duel with a rival gang Akemi slashes the eyes of an opponent and a black cat appears, to lap the blood from the gushing wound. The cat along with the eye-victim go on to pursue Akemi’s gang in revenge, leaving a trail of dead Yakuza girls, their dragon tattoos skinned from their bodies.

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