Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yatsu Haka-mura (The Village of Eight Graves)

The story goes back to the year 1566, where a civil war between the Amako Clan and the Morri Clan had occurred. Defeated, the Amako clan led by Yoshitaka Amako, fled and became fugitives. Most of the samurai were injured and died, left only eight surviving warriors. They came to a small village in the mountain. At first the villagers were afraid of them and keep a lookout to avoid any disturbance, but the samurai have became farmers and turning wasteland into crop fields, cultivated rice and vegetables. The concerned villager felt more secure and became acquaintance. However, fate was not kind to the Amako survivors, the Morri Clan's inquiry finally reach the small remote village where they were hiding. A big reward offered for capturing Yoshitaka Amako. Driven by greed and fear to the Morri Clan, four village representatives held several meetings. On the summer festival, they invited the Amako survivors and served them with poison sake (rice wine). One by one the samurai fell into the ground weakened. The villagers took their chances and the samurais were brutally murdered. Between his last breath, Yoshitaka Amako cursed the villagers "This cowardly attack!!! I curse you for all eternity!"

The ringleader of the attack, Shozaemon Tajima was rewarded handsomely by the Morri Clan and becomes a very wealthy man. However, one day Shozaemon suddenly gone mad and started a killing massacre. Eight people were murdered, including Shozaemon who end his life by cutting off his own head. Believed the tragedy was caused by Yoshitaka Amako's cursed, the villagers gave the eight samurai a decent burial and build a small shrine to honor them.

400 years later, the Tajima family went to look for Tatsuya Terada to inherit the family fortune. However, his grandfather Ushimatsu Igawa died on their first meeting. Reluctant Tatsuya agreed to go back to the village with Miyako to attend the funeral. Upon his arrival he was cursed by the village shaman, calling him the "rain of blood" and "murderer". She claims that Tatsuya appearance in the village will cause eight deaths in the Tajima family. During a family meeting, his step brother Hisaya died, making him the main suspect of the murder case. As he got tangled in the web of mystery surrounding the Tajima family, more deaths occured as if trying to stop him from learning the past. Who is the murderer behind this case? And why? With the help of Kosuke Kindaichi, the secret behind the Yoshitaka Amako curse was revealed.

This movie was directed by Yoshitaro Nomura and released in Japan in 1977. It is based on a novel by Seishi Yakamizo. I've been looking for the book but that attempt are impossible, I am lucky I came upon the movie by accident. I love how the story goes, mind you violence in the movie is quite graphic in it's nature, and it has some mature contents so this movie is not for the kids! This movie later was remake in 1996 by Kon Ichikawa (never seen this one), but the reviews on the remake were not that great so I recommend this version.

If you read the manga or watch the anime / live action drama you'll notice Kosuke Kindaichi, he was the famous detective, and grandfather of Hajime Kindaichi. Fumiya Sato and Seimaru Amagi must have gotten their idea to create Jikembo Kindaichi based on Kousuke Kindaichi character. If I’m not mistaken, one of their manga used the same settings about the murder of the eight samurai fugitive.

This is a movie worth watching; it keeps me glued to the seat guessing!! The scene in the labyrinth really freaks me out, I had nightmares like that where I was chased by someone who wanted to kill me... kowaii!!! >.<""" and the cries... goosebumps!! And if you look carefully, at the ending you'll see a glimpse of MAS there. lol. Good movie!


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