Snake Woman’s Curse

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Chobei Onuma (Seizaburo Kawazu) is the head of his family, a wealthy landowner who rules over the peasant farmers on his ground with an iron fist. While some of the feudal landowners have compassion for the poor farmers under them, Onuma has none whatsoever. He and his family view the farmers as expendable and mere servants, not even as human beings. This leads to terrible working conditions and as a result, a farmer named Yosuke (Ko Nishimura) dies a premature death. His wife Sue and daughter Asa (Yukiko Kuwabara) aren’t even given a chance to mourn properly. Onuma has forced them into indentured servitude, to work off debts and be put through hellish situations. But soon, strange things begin to happen to the Onuma family, things which seem to be eerie and of the supernatural persuasion. Is this all just guilt over years of mistreatment of the farmers they rule over, or is there a dark supernatural force at work?

Snake Woman’s Curse is a welcome addition to horror collections, a breath of fresh air from the recent run of remakes and weak as water movies genre fans have endured. Not to say that this is a great movie, but it is a unique kind of horror movie and it delivers when it comes to chills. The production values are impressive, so locations are great and the supernatural elements work much better than you might expect. Snake Woman’s Curse does use some cliches of course, like cheap jump scares and the like, but that is almost unavoidable. The real draw is the eerie atmosphere and tension, as the pace is on the mark and the mood is intense, this is a well crafted horror picture. The cast is good too, more than a couple notches up than the usual horror movie types, so the characters seem like more than cardboard cutouts to be picked off one by one. Snake Woman’s Curse is a must see for horror fans and Synapse’s disc is terrific, so don’t hesitate to snatch up this release.

Video: How does it look?

Snake Woman’s Curse is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This looks impressive, a much cleaner and more refined image than I ever expected. The print is in good condition, which means softness is never a concern. In fact, detail is quite high and the visuals have good depth throughout. The colors run the spectrum, but always look good, whether vivid or shrouded in darkness. No issues with the contrast either, as black levels are spot on from start to finish. This is fine work from Synapse, who continues to impress me with their transfers.

Audio: How does it sound?

The original Japanese soundtrack is preserved, via a capable mono option. I didn’t hear any concerns like hiss or the like, as the audio was clean and clear, if a touch thin. But for a movie almost four decades old, the sound is fine, if you ask me. The music is loud and clear, while sound effects come through as well as this mono soundtrack can allow. No problems with vocals either, dialogue is clear and suffers from no errors here. This disc also includes optional English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An audio commentary is offered, as Japanese film scholar Jonathan M. Hall lends his expertise. I found the track to be decent, but it seemed like Hall wanted to do too much here. I am by no means an expert on these kind of films, but Hall seemed to push too much to get social context out of the material at times. The obvious feudal system criticism is turned into deep discussion, which I don’t really think was warranted. This disc also includes a biography on director Nobuo Nakagawa, some poster artwork, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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