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Yokai Monsters:  Along with Ghosts
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Box Front Japanese Title: Tokaido Obake Dochu (“Journey with Ghosts along Tokaido Road”)
Alternate Titles: Along with Ghosts (international title)
Directors: Kimiyoshi Yasuda (Daimajin, Yokai Monsters:  100 Monsters) & Yoshiyuki Kuroda (Yokai Monsters:  Spook Warfare, Lone Wolf and Cub:  White Heaven in Hell)
Original Release Year: 1969
Running Time: 79 minutes

DVD Released By: ADV Films
Video: Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1 OAR)
Audio: Japanese 2.0 mono
Extras: Trailers, ADV previews
Subtitles: English
Closed Captions: None
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 8
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $19.98
UPC #: 702727061325
Catalog #: DYM/003
Status: Available


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The Film: At the shrine of Onizuka, the gangster Kanzo and several of his men ambush two messengers.  They are carrying a document that incriminates Kanzo in the death of his rival Nihei.  An old man, the guardian of the shrine, warns the assassins that spilling blood there will bring a curse upon them.  Regardless, both the messengers and the old man are killed.

Miyo, the shrine guardian’s seven-year-old granddaughter, witnesses the events and picks up the dropped document.  The gangsters spot her and give chase.  She makes her way home, where her dying grandfather tells her what to do.  She must journey along Tokaido Road to Hamamatsu.  At the inn of Yui, she should find her long-lost father.  When Miyo presents him with a special set of dice, he should recognize her as his daughter.

Miyo’s journey is a dangerous one.  Along the way, Kanzo’s goons pursue her.  Luckily, she runs into one of Nihei’s men, Hyakutaro, a good-natured swordsman who protects her from harm.  Kanzo’s men are also dogged by the curse of the yokai, who don’t appreciate the earlier bloodletting on sacred ground.

When Miyo finally finds her father, they are both taken prisoner by Kanzo!  Using the cursed dice, the crime boss makes the child wager her father’s life.  Try as he might to rig the game, mere human treachery is no match for the power of the yokai!  Will Kanzo’s final downfall come by Hyakutaro’s blade, or by the wrath of the angry spirits?

Along with Ghosts is the third Daiei yokai film (100 Monsters and Spook Warfare being the others).  Disappointingly, this film features the least amount of monsters and supernatural intrigue of the three.  It’s more like a samurai film than a ghost story or monster movie.  The chases, swordplay, and yakuza double-crossing are only occasionally interrupted by otherworldly events.  Not only do the yokai have the least amount of screen time in this film, those shown are generally less interesting.  Some of the apparitions are cool-looking (like the bloody, floating severed heads), but none of them displays much personality.

Along with Ghosts remains enjoyable to watch.  The film benefits from Kojiro Hongo’s presence as Hyakutaro.  Young Miyo is appealing and very cute; the audience sympathizes with her plight and she’s never annoying.  This film is a good-looking period production that moves along at a quick pace.  It just needs more monsters!  Grade:  B-

Video: The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen.  The print is in great shape with very few specks or lines to belie the film’s age.  There is one instance of a film scratch being onscreen for about 20 seconds.  The transfer is clear and sharp, with good color and detail throughout, and no significant grain.  Nice work, ADV!  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:  Along with Ghosts.  The Japanese trailer is presented in anamorphic widescreen, with optional English subtitles.  Quality is good, though there is 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:  100 Monsters, The Complete Daimajin Trilogy, Gamera:  Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2:  Attack of Legion, and Gamera 3:  Revenge of Iris.  All are in non-anamorphic widescreen.

There are also promos for
The Anime Network and Newtype USA magazine that play 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.  The film is an effective period action drama, though monster fans may find it lacking in the creature department.  Final Grade:  B
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