Based on a novel by Seishi Yokomizo of the same title, Yatsuhaka Mura the movie has been modified from the original story to better fit the taste of modern audiences. The time line has been modified to be in the '70s Japan when this movie was released, and Tatsuya Terada's character is a ground attendant for an airline. There's something for all generations in this movie, and it was one of the biggest commercial success for Shochiku studio up to the point when this movie was made.
This is part of a popular mystery series of private investigator Kosuke Kindaichi. Kindaichi is bit like Sherlock Homes of Japan and has wide popularity among Yokomizo novel fans.
Tatsuya Terada (Kenichi Hagiwara) is an airline ground attendant. One day on a newspaper's people search page, he finds someone is looking for him. He meets with Ushimatsu Igawa at a lawyer's office, and is checked for burn mark he received as a child. This establishes him as the rightful aire to the house of Tajimi. Ushimatsu for some reason starts suffering on the spot and dies. Tatsuya is taken to the village of Yatsuhaka by his relative Miyako Mori (Mayumi Ogawa). Miyako tells Tatsuya that his step brother Hisaya (Tsutomu Yamazaki) is in his death bed and he's the rightful aire to the Tajimi family's wealth. Tatsuya's mother Tsuruko left the village when Tatsuya was still a child. She remarried, but died when he was young, so he never knew about his birth place. The village of Yatsuhaka had dark history of murdering eight fallen samurai in the 16th century. But due to this murder, Shozaemon Tajimi received great bounty by the lord Mouri and became a wealthy land lord. Few years later though Shozaemon went insane, and killed himself and seven others. People believed that it was the curse of the eight samurais. Tatsuya's father also killed 32 of his fellow villagers and fled the land. Now there's new killing in the village. A man named Kosuke Kindaichi (Kiyoshi Atsumi) shows up in the village, and starts to unravel the mystery behind the killing along with Tatsuya.
Shochiku Studio used the same staff they used to make Castle in the Sand to make this movie, and they intended this to be a grand production. The cast is all star with many A list stars of Japan at the time staring in this movie. It might have been Shochiku's last hurrah as a movie studio, but they did make one of the best mystery movie to come out of Japan.
In my opinion this is still the best version of Village of Eight Gravestones that's been made. This is a very popular novel, and there has been three movies, six made for TV specials, and one stage production to this date. Which one is their favorite depends on the taste of the audience, but this one is the most lavish in production.
A good suspense movie to watch, and also a good entry point to get familiar with Yokomizo's works, and Kosuke Kindaichi mystery series.
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