Demon Of Mount Oe (Japan 1960)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 10/14/19
Cast: Kazuo Hasegawa, Raizo Ichikawa, Shintaro Katsu

A cursed woman named Nagisa is sent away from the capitol city and into the care of a noble lord named Raiko (Raizo Ichikawa). Demons make several attempts to kidnap Nagisa, and a samurai named Tsuna (a young Shintaro Katsu) manages to cut off one of the assailant's arms. Unfortunately, he's a bit simple-minded and naïve, which allows the demon to steal its arm back and brings shame to Raiko's clan. In order to avoid having to commit seppuku, Raiko has to arrest a group of bandits that have been terrorizing the countryside and rid Mount Oe of the demons that live there. This leads to a great battle, some tense charades, a samurai showdown, and a surprisingly peaceful and level-headed resolution.

It's a gorgeous big budget action fantasy and the cinematography is fantastic. The visual effects are clever and even though the monsters look a bit tacky, they're still pretty neat to watch. Raizo Ichikawa gives a solid and poignant performance as Raiko, and his sword fight with Kazuo Hasegawa is wonderful. Shintaro Katsu also gives a memorable performance as a fierce warrior, although you want to yell at the screen for his character being such an idiot. While the film is beautiful to watch, the pacing is sluggish and the narrative can be difficult to follow. The women tend to be overly melodramatic, and Nagisa's bizarre eyebrows are a contrast distraction. They're basically just two round dots on her forehead. The gender politics are also difficult to process, as women are blamed for being raped, and are then expected to kill themselves as a result. But ultimately, it's the women who save the day and prevent tons of unnecessary bloodshed.