Knowing that the feature presentation was only 67 minutes long, I tried to come up with a long short to fill time. My eventual choice was only coincidentally Japanese, though it couldn’t have been more different than the feature. Taken from Masaki Kobayashi‘s 1964 collection of four “ghost stories”, Kwaidan, Yuki-Onna (“The Snow Maiden”) isn’t a ghost story in the sense that Americans would normally imagine.
The story starts with two woodcutters, one young, one old (one to learn, one to teach which way the cold wind blows, fussing and flapping in priestly black like a murder of crows???) are caught in a blizzard and take shelter in a hut. During the night a snow maiden comes into the hut and with her icy breath blows the death of the elder woodsman as he sleeps. However, she takes pity on the younger one and tells him never to repeat the story of what has happened or she will kill him.
A year later he has finally recovered from his ordeal, and he meets a woman out in the woods. She becomes his wife (as all Japanese women found in the woods are required to do) and bears him three children while never aging. One night, the light on her face reminds her husband of that fateful night and forgetting his promise, he tells the story of the snow maiden to…his wife, the snow maiden. She’s not happy, but doesn’t kill him for the sake of her children. Instead, she floats off after delivering another threat on his life if he mistreats the children.
Slow, unusual, beautifully shot, but not scary.
Then we got to our feature presentation, Tetsuo the Iron Man, directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, and presented by Sam Failor, who clearly doesn’t want to present any movies anymore. First off, I hope that Tsukamoto has since gotten psychiatric help. Second, I’m not sure the film deserves a traditional write-up. It doesn’t exactly make any sense anyway. So here goes:
Let’s just say it’s the most
ck I’ve ever seen, and leave it at that.