Director Nobuo Nakagawa was on a roll in the 1960's. He's well known for directing a film known in Japan as Jigoku (aka Japanese Hell), but a little lesser known for helming 1968's "Snake Woman's Curse". He directed his first film entitled Itahachi jima in 1938, so by the time he made "Snake Woman's Curse" he was more than a seasoned veteran of directing. While watching the film you will certainly notice a director that is very familiar with his craft, as the direction in the movie is amazing. But the bottom line is between "Snake Woman's Curse" and the earlier "Jigoku" this man was a very underrated director.
"Snake Woman's Curse" is the story of a local village in while a wealthy landlord has the run of the land. Upon the death of one of his farm workers, the man vow's to pay back his debt ends up haunting the evil landlord. Upon the death of the man his wife and daughter are enslaved by the landlord to pay off their father/husbands death. The women working for the landlord are treated horribly and are worked to the bone each and every day. Well it seems that every person that ends up dying on the premises will haunt the property and it's landlord are properly paid back for their injustices.
The thing that makes "Snake Woman's Curse" such a cool flick is the constant feeling of something bad is going to happen. Plus, there are some very cool hallucination scenes in the movie with people flipping out during them. Not only does that add some cool atmosphere to the story, but it also makes it so you never know what direction the movie is coming at you. That makes the experience of watching the movie have the feel that things are a lot less safe than they may seem, and this one really does a good job with that.
One thing I found strange about the film is the changing of it's tone. One minute the movie is going for humor only for it to get serious instantaneously. Then you can have a scene that's very serious and dreadful, only for it to suddenly become funny. Very weird to say the least, but what's even weirder is it doesn't ruin the movie whatsoever. I've never quite witnessed a film where the tone changes so much, yet isn't completely ruined by it. I guess that's a real testament to how unique of a film this one really is.
The film itself deals with some really dark material and while watching I thought a lot of the subject matter was ahead of it's time. There's a rape scene that's not particularly brutal as far as what is on display, but it's a pretty damaging scene nonetheless.
The direction in the film is also excellent like I mentioned in the beginning of this review. It really helps that not only does Nakagawa get good performances out of his actors, but he's pretty crafty with a camera so that helps. Technically the film is very good with good colors, adding even more personality to the film when you are viewing it. There's one scene in particular that's really fun to watch as blood literally runs down your screen. Now, I've seen that before but according to when this movie was made I don't know if I've seen it in any earlier incarnation.
Something else I found to be worth a mention is that there are a few scenes in the movie where people mistake food for snakes and so forth which reminded me of the scene in "The Lost Boys" where this happens. I'm not saying for sure because I don't know, but I'm thinking someone involved with "The Lost Boys" has seen this movie before.
Overall "Snake Woman's Curse" was a rather satisfying experience. It's creepy, effective, humorous, and down right dark as can be at some points. There are a lot of emotions that this film will bring out of the viewer and that sort of thing felt rather refreshing to me. Also, a lot of the movie is just dramatic acting stuff and it wasn't talky or boring whatsoever, and everything felt like it was there to further the story of the film along. So all in all I would definitely recommend "Snake Woman's Curse" to horror fans, especially to the ones that are jaded with Asian horror in general. Not only is "Snake Woman's Curse" a good movie, but it's also something that I found myself wanting to watch over several times.
The DVD is beautifully restored and looks great, the colors are vivid and the movie doesn't come off as dated whatsoever. They really did a great job putting this one together and it shows. You also get a Nobuo Nakagawa bio, a poster gallery, and the US trailer for the film.
Rating - ***