David and I are back with another episode of The Eclipse Viewer, the podcast dedicated to the Criterion Collection’s Eclipse Series of DVDs.
In this episode we tackle the four films packaged in Eclipse Series 37: When Horror Came to Shochiku.
Shochiku is one of Japan’s oldest and most prestigious studios, producing the films of many great directors, like Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse, and (a director whose work will enter the Eclipse Series next month) Keisuke Kinoshita. But in the late 1960s, when the audience appeared to want crazy monster movies, Shochiku strayed from their wheelhouse to make four horror films. It’s a fascinating chapter in the history of one of the world’s most important production studios. The films? Well, let’s just say it’s clear Shochiku was not equipped to make any masterpieces of horror.
Here are the four films: The X from Outer Space (1967), in which we meet Guilala, one of the strangest and least scary kaiju monsters ever; Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968), my personal favorite; The Living Skeleton (1968), which is so beautifully filmed and genuinely creepy that it’s a shame the writers didn’t know what they were doing; and Genocide (1968), a nicely filmed but offensively exploitative rumination on the world’s wars in the twentieth century.
It’s a mixed bag of fun that will appeal to some much more than others. But as a trek into film history, it’s a must-watch.
Please find the podcast, the shownotes, and plenty of links over at CriterionCast here.
In the next episode of The Eclipse Viewer, David and I will be discussing Eclipse Series 22: Presenting Sacha Guitry, featuring The Story of a Cheat (1936), The Pearls of the Crown (1937), Désiré (1937), and Quadrille (1938).