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Jigoku (Criterion Collection) (1960)

Cast: Shigeru Amachi, Utako Mitsuya, Yoichi Numata
Director: Nobuo Nakagawa
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Foreign, Horror, Supernatural/Occult, Japan, Asian Horror, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 100 min.

When a young college student had his sadistic friend leave a respected yakuza to die after inadvertently running him down on a lonely stretch of road, their fate is sealed in director Nobuo Nakagawa's Japanese horror classic Jigoku. Shiro's life seems to be going well; he's in love with pretty Yukiko and just received her parent's permission to take her hand in marriage. When his roommate, Tamura, runs down a drunken yakuza and refuses Shiro's plea to return to the scene of the crime and help the man, Shiro's conscience burns, and he soon admits his crime to Yukiko. As the two rush to Yukiko's father for advice, their taxi crashes and Yukiko dies in Shiro's arms. Overwhelmed by the tragedy that surrounds him, Shiro's life descends into a haze of alcohol and loose women until he receives word that his mother is gravely ill. Though he makes it to the senior citizens community in time to see her before she dies, Shiro is followed to the community by both Tamura and Yoko, a prostitute out to avenge the death of her yakuza boss. As Shiro is sent screaming into hell, his horrifying journey into darkness has only begun.

GreenCine Member Reviews

The Jig(oku) Is Up! by talltale September 29, 2006 - 9:03 PM PDT
2 out of 4 members found this review helpful
One of those "classic" movies that had me scratching my head for most of its length, JIGOKU, which means something like hell in Japanese, was something like hell to have to sit through. It approaches--but never allows itself to fall into--camp. More's the pity, since it does not succeed as anything else: religious thriller, philosophical mystery, horror, ghost story or scare movie.

Actually, it seems most like having to sit through a dreadful church service in which the minister, determined to prove how sinful is all humanity, tells us this fact over and over, accompanied by some very dumb visuals. I acknowledge that, in the year of its original theatrical release (1960), it may have seemed ahead of its time in some of those visuals that feature nudity, garish colors and such (but the sets often make it look like a bad legitimate theatre pieces from the dawn of off-off Broadway). Now, in the early part of the 21st Century, it just looks dated, with over-the-top acting and a script and direction that no one would ever call subtle. I have to believe that there was some argument at Criterion over the appropriateness of transferring this one to DVD. I say that because even the transfer here seems noticeably lacking in this company's usual high quality.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.06)
33 Votes
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