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BLIND WOMAN’S CURSE (KAIDAN NOBORI RYU) (director/writer: Teruo Ishii; screenwriter: Yoshitada Sone; cinematographer: Shigeru Kitaizumi ; editor: Osamu Inoue; music: Hajime Kaburagi; cast: Meiko Kaji (Akemi Tachibana), Hoki Tokuda (Aiko Gouda), Bumon Kahara (Gouda), Yôko Takagi (Chie),Makoto Satô (Tani Shouichi), Tatsumi Hijikata (Ushimatsu, Hunchback dance); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hideo Koi; ; 1970-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)
“It strangely makes for a compelling watch.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s directed and written by the late eccentric Japanese filmmaker Teruo Ishii(“Attack From Space”/”Flesh Pier”/”Yellow Line”). A rare horror pic from Ishii.

It’s an early role for Meiko Kaji, who plays Akemi Tachibana, the beautiful young leader of a yakuza gang.

In the opening credits, there’s a bloody slo-mo samurai fight between rivals. Akemi accidentally slashes across the eyes the innocent sister of the rival leader, Aiko Gouda (Hoki Tokuda), and leaves her blind. Meanwhile a black cat emerges unnoticed to lick her blood.

Akemi serves a three-year jail sentence for the crime. Upon her release, Akemi assumes leadership of her deceased father’s gang. Her rivals are the Dobashi gang led by Toru Abe, who frame her for drug trafficking. To her aid comes a handsome mercenary justice- seeking drifter, Tani Shouichi (Makoto Satô). He falls in love with the feisty daughter of a restaurant owner, Chie (Yôko Takagi). Things take a bleak turn when the mutilated bodies of Akemi’s girlfriends start showing up. It turns out that a mysterious blind woman swordsman has joined the Dobashi gang. The swordsman maniac turns out to be the insane hunchback Ushimatsu (Tatsumi Hijikata). Meanwhile there’s the black cat who stalks Akemi, all geared-up for revenge.

The oddball pop-surrealist film wavers from incomprehensibility in bouts of horror, goofy comedy, soft-core porn and a samurai and yakuza adventure tale. Though too nonsensical and hallucinatory in narrative to follow with too many sober-minded observations, it strangely makes for a compelling watch. In how many other films will you see weird, like in the scene of a panting hunchback hopping around while a woman simulates copulation with a dog wrapped in the Japanese flag!

Kaji, who went on from here to become a cult superstar, sings the film’s theme song.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”