Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare (1968)

1968 saw the release of Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters, but just seven months later, director Kuroda Yoshiyuki (Daimajin, several Zatoichi films) made this sequel, which takes the main ideas of presenting Japan’s native monsters, perhaps finds some inspiration from the manga GeGeGe no Kitaro and the story of Momotaro, take a strong shot of national Japanese pride and remembers that no one cares about the humans in the story. We’re here to see monsters. And oh man, are we gonna get them!

In the Babylonian city of Ur, the body of the great monster Daimon lies amongst the ruins. That is, until some treasure hunters rouse him from his dark sleep, which leads to him flying to Japan, vampirically taking over the body of samurai Lord Hyogo Isobe.

As Isobe, Daimon goes wild, burning all the religious altars, killing the family dog and even rousing a kappa — a “river child” turtle creature who loves to wrestle — from his slumber in the river. Hurt in combat with the much stronger Daimon, the kappa begins his quest to unite the yokai and stop the foul beast.

Soon, the kappa meets Kasa-obake (a one-legged umbrella with eyes), Futakuchi-onna (a two-mouthed cursed woman), Rokurokubi (a long-necked woman who often appears in the more adult kaiden stories), Nuppeppo (a clay creature who resembles a blob of meat) and Abura-sumashi (a wise ghost of a human who once stole oil). They tell him that according to coloring books and field guides, no such yokai exists.

Meanwhile, Daimon has stopped his attempted exorcism and responded by killing the parents of several children. As his men hunt for the surviving kids, they hide in the yokai shrine. Soon, the monsters realize the kappa was telling the truth and join him in battle, which ends up involving nearly every single monster from across Japan.

Takashi Miike remade this movie in 2005 as The Great Yokai War, which also features Kitaro creator Mizuki in a cameo.

Seriously, this movie took a bad day and made anything seem possible. This is pure joy on film.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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