|Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters|
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|Japanese Title: Yokai Hyaku Monogatari (“Story of 100 Monsters”)
Alternate Titles: One Hundred Ghost Stories (international title)
Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda (Daimajin)
Original Release Year: 1968
Running Time: 80 minutes
DVD Released By: ADV Films
Video: Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1 OAR)
Audio: Japanese 2.0 mono
Extras: Trailers, ADV previews
Closed Captions: None
UPC #: 702727061226
Catalog #: DYM/002
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About the Site
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|The Film: “This is a One Hundred Stories social gathering. Every time one story ends, one candle is meant to be put out. There is an old saying in which, when the last light is put out, an apparition will make an appearance. At the end of the gathering, it is customary to participate in the curse eliminating ritual.” Thus begins Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters.
The peasants of Edo entertain themselves with such gatherings. They are honest and hard working, though poor. When the greedy Lord Tajimaya orders their shrine demolished to make room for (of all things) a brothel, the villagers are shocked. When they resist, the groundskeeper of the shrine is severely beaten and dies. The residents of the adjoining tenement building then learn that their landlord Jubei is deeply in debt to Tajimaya. The building where they live is also going to be torn down.
Lord Tajimaya and his superior, Magistrate Uzen, both stand to profit handsomely from the use of Jubei’s land. To celebrate their impending windfall, they hold their own One Hundred Stories gathering. However, the arrogant nobles refuse to allow the curse eliminating ritual.
When Jubei attempts to pay off his debt and save the tenement building, he is murdered and his daughter Okiku is forced into servitude. However, the villagers are no longer alone in their struggle. The masterless samurai Yasutaro enters the fray. What’s more, neglecting the proper ritual has unleashed a curse on the corrupt officials. Even these merciless men will prove helpless against the wrath of one hundred monsters.
100 Monsters is the first of three yokai films produced by Daiei in 1968 and 1969. However, it is the second to be released on DVD by ADV Films. Presumably, they chose to release Spook Warfare first because they consider it the strongest entry. Watching 100 Monsters, it’s hard to argue with that. This film is much slower. Most of the film is devoted to the human drama, with the yokai appearing less frequently. The monsters highlighted in this entry are generally less appealing. The concept of telling 100 stories is interesting, but only one story (involving Rokurokubi, the snake-necked woman) is shown in its entirety. The monsters’ motivation is also not clear. Are they benevolently helping the villagers, or simply punishing the officials for neglecting the proper ritual? 100 Monsters does have some cool moments: A drawing of Karakasa (the one-legged umbrella) comes to life; and workers are turned into faceless zombies after tearing down the shrine. The scenes involving the storyteller are creepy and atmospheric. If you’re interested in costumed monsters in a period setting, then give 100 Monsters a try. Just be prepared for a film that moves slow and doesn’t show a lot of personality in most of its monsters. Grade: B
Video: The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The print is in great shape with hardly any damage such as specks or lines to belie the film’s age. The transfer is clear and sharp, with good color and detail throughout, and no significant grain. Excellent! Grade: A-
Audio: The film’s original mono Japanese language track is presented in 2.0 (with optional English subtitles). It sounds good; the music, dialogue, and sound effects are clear throughout. Grade: B+
Extras / Menus: The extras are all trailers. There are both the original Japanese theatrical trailer, and ADV’s U.S. trailer, for Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters. The Japanese trailer is presented in anamorphic widescreen, with optional English subtitles. Quality is good, though there is slightly more print damage than in the feature itself. The ADV trailer is in non-anamorphic widescreen.
Grouped separately under “Coming Attractions” are six ADV promo trailers. They are for: Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare, Yokai Monsters: Along with Ghosts, The Complete Daimajin Trilogy, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, and Destroy All Monsters. All are in non-anamorphic widescreen.
There is also a promo for The Anime Network that plays when the disc first starts up. The main menu is animated; the chapter select and ADV previews screens show film clips in the selection windows. All of the menus have background music, and are anamorphic. Grade: C
Final Analysis: Excellent presentation of the feature, without much in the way of extras. The specs of all three of ADV's Yokai Monsters titles are consistent. As for the film itself, most monster movie fans would probably rank it second in the trilogy. Final Grade: B
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