The beauty of Japanese cinema is that it is often ambiguous and questions if the lack of logic (primarily in horror) lies in the cultural barriers. The lack of coherent storylines adds to the charm as often a haunted house isn’t just a haunted house. There might also be an evil cat, a monster in the walls, or killer step-parents with sinister agendas. THE SNAKE GIRL AND THE SILVER HAIRED WITCH is one of those bonkers, off-the-wall offerings. Released in 1968, director Noriaki Yuasa delivers what is considered a form of tokusatsu terror.
Sayuri (Yachie Matsui) is a young orphan who is suddenly reunited with her biological family. The circumstances don’t add up, but she’s ten so maybe everyone thinks she’ll just not notice all the weird shit happening around her. First off, a maid gets bitten by a poisonous snake prior to her arrival and it’s evident that this is no accident. Her mother suffers from amnesia since a recent car accident, but that doesn’t explain that she seems to be hiding secrets. She also finds out that she has a sister that’s living in the attic. The sister too has secrets of her own as well as scars on her body that she doesn’t want to acknowledge. If Sayuri didn’t have enough to deal with, she has nightmares about snakes and a reptile-like figured woman attacking her. It doesn’t help that her father has venomous snakes in the basement for “research” purposes.
THE SNAKE GIRL AND THE SILVER HAIRED WITCH feels more like a montage of dream sequences than a traditional narrative, but it’s safe to assume that was Yuasa’s goal. Arrow Films has transferred this nightmarish vision to 1080p in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The black and white cinematography benefits from the new transfer even when the cloudy, hazy-looking dream sequences come about. This release has a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track in its original Japanese language. Despite the lack of surround capabilities, SNAKE GIRL is a loud affair. There are lots of eerie drums and whistling reminiscent of Vincent Price films. It works on this release as everything comes off clear.
In addition to an audio commentary by David Kalat, there is an interesting feature called “The Charming Woman” which focuses on the mythology of the entities in SNAKE GIRL. Zack Davisson is clearly passionate about the topic and goes deep in serpent-related folklore. The film’s origins lie in a manga by Kazuo Umezu, famous for The Drifting Classroom. A theatrical trailer and image gallery are included.
In regards to physical components, the Blu-ray case is housed in a slipcover with new neon pink and black artwork. The Blu-ray case itself has a reversible sleeve. A booklet featuring a lengthy essay by Raffael Coronelli as well as cast and crew information is included.
THE SNAKE GIRL AND THE SILVER HAIRED WITCH centers around children and their fears, but this is not a children’s film. Arrow Films has unleashed a Japanese kid’s nightmare in high definition and fans will be pleased with their new release. You can now order it via Arrow Films HERE.
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