THE BRIDE FROM HADES (botan dourou) (1968 JAPAN) D: SATSUO YAMAMOTO W: YOSHITAKA YODA P: MASAICHI NAGATA
Apparently the familiar Botan Dorou (or Kaidan Botan Dorou) ghost story first made its way into Japanese folklore, via translated Chinese legend in the 17th Century. In 1854, famed rakugo storyteller Encho Sanyutei first performed his version, which was written down in book-form, and supplied the basis for a popular Kabuki play. Prior to this version, it had been filmed in 1910 (twice), 1914, 1919, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1936, 1937 and 1955. Kojiro Hongo is a philanthropist who teaches poor children, he's being pressured by his family to enter a loveless marriage with a widow, for the sake of social mobility. One night he helps a beautiful young woman (Miyoko Akaza) and her maidservant, and earn their gratitude. He hears of their terrible backstory, leaving the woman a Courtesan-in-distress. They fall for each other, and agree to be lovers, if only for the week of the summer "festival of ghosts" (Obon). It's no great surprise that they turn out to be ghosts, and his life is in danger, but this nicely done, classical mood-piece is a fun watch, with some effective, atmospheric set-pieces. Hongo's servant (Ko Nishimura) and his greedy woman (Mayumi Ogawa) figure in a sub-plot. With frog-faced Takashi Shimura as a Priest, and Saburo Date. Yamamoto was a prolific Director from the 1930s through to his death in 83. The next version was the erotic HELLISH LOVE (1972). Other erotic versions (two) were in 2009. And there's also OTSUYU (1997), and a 1990 and 2008 version (at least).

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