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  • Without knowing anything about the film beforehand, when I expected Village of Eight Gravestones to be a tale of vengeance set in the background of historical Japan, boy was I surprised, when it turned out to be a mixture of murder mystery and a tale of supernatural vengeance set in the 70's Japan. Another surprise was that such a quality film seems to be quite unknown outside Japan. After watching it, I felt like I had a small hidden gem here.

    To me, VOEGS is a righteously slow-paced, atmospheric piece of work with sudden changes of mood, when the story is told to the viewer through different characters and the flashbacks that narrate their stories and their history. The photography differs between realistic and minimalistic to some shoots that are very stylistic, giving strange beauty to even the most brutal visual elements of the film. Altering between pondering detective story and sheer vicious action, the movie kept me nailed to the seat until the end and guessing who is the guilty and what is his or her motive. Nice bonus was that the ending pretty much knocked me out.

    Especially intriguing in the movie was it's way of leaving things to be judged by the viewer, rather than explaining the true way of things. Whether there really was a curse or not, is entirely up to you.

    VOEGS surely deserves to be seen by bigger audiences. It's not a perfect movie, but well worth watching for. Fair word of warning: violence in the movie is quite graphic in it's nature, and so this is not a film for the kiddies. For friends and fans of slowly building suspense and mystery, and Asian movies in general.

    This is my truth. What is yours?
  • 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.
  • This may be a story about a supernatural curse, or a murder mystery with a naturalistic explanation, or both; you don't know for sure until the end. It plays as a fusion of the two. A couple of the characters are as weird as the eerie cave where the revenge story plays itself out to the end. Sometimes the movie is like a dynastic soap opera, sometimes it delves into Hammer Films territory, as in the gory flashback showing the massacre of the eight warriors whose spirits may--or may not--be taking revenge on the descendants of their betrayers. The story is about the probable last of the line, who is drawn to the village and becomes embroiled in family clashes, mysterious deaths, dark secrets, and at the end, the hostility of a (not very convincing) mob. The actor in the role is compelling, and the movie is interesting enough, but very long for its story, making several of its points over and over, as if it were in rough cut (and with all that, at least one (possibly) supernatural figure goes unexplained). The photography is of the period, with too many zoom shots. All in all, the effect is of a B picture that didn't know when to quit.
  • The first thing I thought when I watched this movie was that I reminded "Throne of blood" by Kurosawa Akira. As well as Greek and Shakespeare's tragedies. In fact, we have the theme of a curse made of blood which runs through generations and that can be stopped only by facing it. Even if it costs a lots of efforts. The main character of this great film of the 70es is the pure and chivalric hero who, unconscious of his past, must fight against the evil stuck to his family in the mountains of Japan. And because of this family itself, in particular because of an old crime very close to the betrayal of Macbeth aka Washizu in "Throne of blood", the curse runs until the moment it can be stopped. And this can only happen thanks to one hero who has his blood and soul not yet contaminated. This idea can be found, as well as the mentioned theme of betrayal, both in Shakespeare and in Greek theater. The only difference with the great classic tragedies is given by the figure of the detective Kindaichi, the external observer of the events. Thus, the only one that can explain them better since he's just observing and drawing conclusions. This character reminds us some popular detective stories thanks also to the setting between the mountains enriched by grotesque characters and a thrilling soundtrack. A movie so that can make us think how much the cultures can communicate between them. Based on one of the most popular detective stories of Yokomizo Seiji, developed then as screenplay by Hashimoto Shinobu who worked with Kurosawa, this film underlines the theme of vendetta which made it something more anthropologically complex than a simple detective story. Everything then is surrounded by a cast of all stars of those days in Japan. We must remember the role of Kindaichi played by Atsumi Kiyoshi, popular thanks to "Otoko wa tsurai yo" movie series more close to drama than to mystery, who here must have surprised the audience. Shochiku wanted a masterpiece and achieved its goal. "Village of eight graves" is so a great example of a story about curse and revenge from old Japan that still survives. Even if Japan has changed. Director Nomura seemed to say to audience that you cannot avoid your past, your responsibility, your destiny linked to forest, mountains, caves. Even if Japan was building skyscrapers and becoming more and more modernized. A vision, this one, very close to Shintoism that we must wait until Studio Ghibli's production to be seen again on Japanese big screen. One point of view, we must also remember, yet developed by Greek mythology and medieval culture and that human progress cannot erase. At least in Japan. And about this Nomura and Miyazaki, as well as Kurosawa, Shakespeare and Greek playwrights seem to agree.
  • As graceful and beautiful as Japanese cinema can be, there are many directors and films that do not shy away from graphic violence and gore. The depiction of the slaughter by the villagers in this movie is intense, almost hideous, but id does make the curse all the more frightening and real. This is definitely not a film for the squeamish, but nonetheless, and very fine ride.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I thought this was going to be a murder-mystery. But this one ends as a movie of grotesque supernatural power. I am just too worldly to be satisfied with this kind of an end.

    Other complaints: Sequence of events is loosed tied. The killing scene of 8 samurais is too graphic, almost disgusting. The famous detective, Kindaichi, is underused.

    The 1996 version is not necessarily a good one. But at least, that version does look like a detective movie and you can make sense of things.
  • ivanxviii30 October 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    It's a primitive crime drama with a stupid plot. Ironically, the first 30-40 minutes of it were interesting, especially the captivating mountain scenery frames, but then little by little things got totally idiotic and made me laugh hysterically. A wealthy ancient clan locates its long-lost member and he goes to his birthplace village to meet his family accompanied by a beautiful widow of one of his cousins. Meanwhile a couple of his newly found relatives die under suspicious circumstances. And here's when the level of stupidity starts rising. People in the village begin dying left and right. The protagonist is blamed for those deaths and, to escape the crowd of vigilantes, roams a huge cave which would make a professional speleologist green with envy. Along the way he casually stumbles upon dead bodies of yet a few other family members and this entertaining walk of his is complete with passionate sex with the widow at the spot of his own alleged conception, right on the rocky floor of the cave. Shortly after sex on the rocks the elegant, fragile widow, who in the best tradition on the genre turns out to be the killer, chases the protagonist in the cave to finish him off with what else but a bulky tip of a stalagmite. At this point the cave bats, probably fed up with all this nonsense, manage to trigger a mini-earthquake conveniently killing the treacherous woman and sparing the man, of course. But not only the outraged bats are capable of shaking the ground, the little creatures fly to the family mansion and - listen to this! - in the true kamikaze spirit catch fire from burning candles and set the mansion ablaze. To make it even more ridiculous the man and the widow happen to be related sharing a common samurai ancestry. How can anyone invent such a convoluted scenario is beyond my comprehension.