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Irezumi

Japan 1966
produced by
Hiroaki Fujii (planner) for Daiei
directed by Yasuzo Masumura
starring Ayako Wakao, Akio Hasegawa, Gaku Yamamoto, Kei Sato, Fujio Suga, Reiko Fujiwara, Asao Uchida, Kikue Mori, Jun Fujikawa, Tadashi Iwata, Gen Kimura, Kazuo Moriuchi, Shozo Nanbu, Kimiko Tachibana
screenplay by Kaneto Shindo, based on the novel by Junichiro Tanizaki, music by Hikaru Hayashi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Otsuya (Ayako Wakao) is a rich merchant's daughter, Shinsuke (Akio Hasegawa) his lowly assistant - and the two are madly in love, but since her dad has already arranged a profitable marriage for her, the two decide to elope. They find refuge with Gonji (Fujio Suga), a friend of her father's who promises Otsuya to set things straight with her dad, but instead he lures Shinsuke into a death trap and sells her to Tokubei's (Asao Uchida) geisha house. Shinsuke kills the goon Gonji has sent to kill him though, but the experience leaves him deeply troubled. Meanwhile, Tokubei has master tattooist Seikichi (Gaku Yamamoto) tattoo a spider with a human face on Otsuya's back as a sort of sign that she's a geisha, but the tattoo weirdly empowers her. She gets really good at her job, too, soon developing a talent for draining men of their money. And then Gonji pays her a visit and tells her he wants her as his mistress. Instead of sending him to hell, she demands him to kill his wife (Reiko Fujiwara) and then marry her. Having only just reconciled with Shinsuke, she takes him to her next meeting with Gonji, finding her leaning over his murdered wife, but then when he tries to make her his, she refuses him and drives him so mad that Shinsuke has to step in to kill him. Seeing he has killed for her, Otsuya takes in Shinsuke as her lover, and uses him as her secret weapon against those who have wronged her. But it's only a question of time until her little murderous scheme shows signs of deadly strain ...

 

A very powerful movie as it combines a combines an at its heart compelling story with dark, oftem macabre imagery, and treats the story's sleazy elements in the most tasteful way (without glossing over things) while not shying away from start imagery. And the film's brooding, almost horror-like atmosphere, combined with Ayako Wakao's borderline-scary central performance really pack a punch, making this pretty much a must-see.

 

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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