DEMON OF OE MOUNTAIN (ooe yama shuten doji) (1960 JAPAN) D: TOKUZO TANAKA W: FUJI YAHIRO P: MASAICHI NAGATA
This minor epic (set in the 10th Century) directed by a former AD of Kurosawa and Mizoguchi , and based on a novel by Matsutaro Kawaguchi (a novelist and playwrite who`s work has been adapted to the screen a lot) has an extremely involved plot (based on a legend which it totally re-writes). Kazuo Hasegawa is the Shuten Doji "demon" living in a heavily guarded mountain fortress. Raizo Ichikawa is the General for the Genji clan, who believe they are in danger from the demon. But things are not at all what they seem. Shintaro Katsu co-stars as a samurai who slices the arm off a demon posing as a beautiful woman. His future real-life wife Tamao Nakamura has an important role. Others are Kojiro Hongo, Fujiko Yamamoto, Ganjiro Nakamura, Naritoshi Hayashi, Ryouzo Shimada, Saburo Date, Jun Negami, Jiro Izawa, Jun Tazaki, Kichijiro Ueda, Gen Shimizu, Sonosuke Sawamura, Eitaro Ozawa, Michiko Ai, Sachiko Hidari, Fujiko Yamamoto, Shinobu Araki, Uzo Nanbujo, Ryozaburo Mitsuoka, Shintaro Nanjo, Seishiro Hase, Kimiko Tachibana, Reiko Kongo, Fumihiko Yokoyama and Yukio Horikita, Tanaka provides some nice compositions (with the aid of Hiroshi Imai`s colourful cinematography), and there are decent set-pieces, but it`s overlong and lacklustre at 114 mins. Fantasy elements include a bull in the sky, a giant spider and a cool stop-motion flying demon head briefly during the opening credits. Not to mention deadly party streamers as a very cheap special effect! Of some interest to those studying Japanese cinema, history or folklore. Tanaka later directed Ichikawa in the brilliant THE BETRAYAL, and Katsu in the TOUGH GUY movies.

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