Masters of Cinema Series: Onibaba

I don’t often blog about one of my ongoing ventures, the Masters of Cinema Series DVD collection that I’m quite proud to be associated with, distributed by Eureka Video in the UK. Part of me doesn’t want to confuse Filmjourney with any commercial promotions (any MoC reviews I would write could be tainted with self-interest), but the fact is, the films we’re releasing are wonderful titles, superbly produced by Nick Wrigley. Generally, we MoC curators who don’t live in the UK supplement the website, help choose the titles for the series, proof the DVD booklets, and provide Nick with opinions and support from day to day.

But with our latest two releases this week, Kaneto Shindo’s thematically-fused Japanese horror classics Onibaba (1964) and Kuroneko (1968), I’ve also written the enclosed essays for the DVDs that focus on Shindo’s aesthetic realization of his socially progressive themes and erotic/romantic/horror elements.

The venerable DVDTimes have just posted their review of Onibaba, and it’s nice to see the DVD receiving the kind of accolades we feel it deserves:

Onibaba is a genuine classic that remains every bit as brutal, cynical and downright frightening as when it first hit theatres 41yrs ago. A masterful exploration of the callousness of modern society and the raw carnal desires of basic human nature which holds a pretty sharp, blinding mirror up to the face of humanity and isnít afraid to show us the ugly truth about ourselves. More than anything though, it remains a fantastically entertaining psychological horror. Eurekaís Masters of Cinema label has scored another hit with this latest r2UK release, combining strong visuals with solid audio and some excellent extra features that hardcore fans of the film will want to revisit over and over again.”

US readers might note that the film has been released by the Criterion Collection in region 1, but we’ve been the first to release Shindo’s other two masterpieces, The Naked Island (sporting an excellent essay by Acquarello) and Kuroneko (sometimes referred to as Black Cat in the Forest), on video in the West. (DVDTimes haven’t added their review of Kuroneko yet, but in many ways, I prefer its romanticism and folkloric milieu to Onibaba‘s intense ferocity.)

Nick tells me we’ve had an initial week of good sales but we’re hoping word spreads on these titles, exemplary genre films with astonishing visuals and enjoyable thematic weight. I’d recommend them along with the other titles in our series whether I had the privilege of contributing to them or not.

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