Kaidan hebi-onna (1968)

When a poor farmer named Yasuke dies, all of his fields are taken — legally if not ethically — by landlord Chobei Onuma. That man now takes Yasuke’s wife Sue and daughter Asa as servants to work off his debt, an action that introduces Chobei to the ghost of the farmer. He orders their home destroyed and a gigantic snake appears before being killed — a bad omen in Japanese culture and but the start of the curse.

Asa and Sue are abused not only by Chobei but also by his Masae and son Takeo. Sue tries to protect another snake but pays for that act with her life, leaving her mother alone to deal with the sexual advances of her new master’s son. Yet the ghosts haven’t left and while rich men may rule the physical world, they have no say over the supernatural one.

Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa (Jigoku) and written by Fumi Konami (Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion), this may not be the all-out shock that later Japanese horror would spray all over the screen, but it has moments of eerie calm amongst the otherworldly.

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