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Yokai Monsters:  Spook Warfare
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Box Front Japanese Title: Yokai Daisenso (“Great Spirit War”)
Alternate Titles: Spook Warfare (international title)
Director: Yoshiyuki Kuroda (Yokai Monsters:  Along with Ghosts, Lone Wolf And Cub:  White Heaven in Hell)
Original Release Year: 1969
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
Subtitles: English
Closed Captions:
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 8
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $19.98
UPC #: 702727061127
Catalog #: DYM/001
Status: Out of print


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The Film: In the ruins of Babylonia, treasure hunters disturb the resting place of Daimon.  Daimon is an imposing bird-like vampire demon with incredible magical powers and a taste for human blood!  After killing the tomb raiders, and capsizing a ship at sea, Daimon flies to Japan.

The benevolent Lord Isobe, magistrate of Izu, is patrolling the territory on a stormy night.  Daimon kills him and assumes his appearance in order to infiltrate the court of Izu.  The chamberlain Saheiji is also taken over by Daimon.  Isobe’s daughter, Lady Chie, and the loyal samurai Shinpachiro are shocked and disturbed by Lord Isobe’s hostile new behavior.  When he grows tired of feeding on adults, Daimon begins abducting children from the nearby village.  Two children escape, and hide out at a shrine inhabited by friendly yokai, or spirit monsters.

One of the yokai, Kappa the water imp, was previously defeated by Daimon.  With their pride and good reputations as Japanese spirits endangered by Daimon’s ruthlessness, the yokai decide to work together to rid their land of the bloodthirsty demon.  However, Daimon is much more powerful than any of them.  With supernatural strength and incredible black magic at his disposal, Daimon may be too much for any combination of Japanese spirits to handle!

One of the great things about being a tokusatsu fan is experiencing wonderful films, both old and new, for the first time. 
Yokai Monsters:  Spook Warfare is a fun movie with more strange creatures than you can shake a stick at.  In addition to Daimon and the frog / turtle hybrid Kappa, there’s a woman with a long serpentine neck, a bear-like creature whose portly belly works like a crystal ball, a one-legged umbrella monster, a two-faced woman, a stubby little guy who looks like a stone fetish, and many more.  The period setting is reminiscent of the Daimajin series, though this film is more lighthearted and has more monster action.  All of the creatures are well portrayed by costumed actors, who create a good sense of camaraderie among the native Japanese spirits.  Daimon is also similar to Daimajin in that the actor uses only his eyes and body language to project the creature’s power and intent.  Yokai Monsters:  Spook Warfare is highly recommended for all fans of Japanese fantasy films.  Grade:  A

Video: The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen.  The print is in great shape with only the occasional speck or line to belie the film’s age.  The transfer is clear and sharp, with good color and detail throughout, and no significant grain.  Very nice!
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:  Spook Warfare.  The Japanese trailer is one of the best I’ve seen.  It really gets the viewer interested in the film.  It’s presented in anamorphic widescreen (with optional English subtitles), but unfortunately the image is much darker than the feature itself.  The non-anamorphic U.S. trailer, like most of ADV’s promos, has no dialogue.  It has less impact than the Japanese trailer.

Grouped separately under “Coming Attractions” are six ADV promo trailers.  They are for: 
Yokai Monsters:  100 Monsters, Yokai Monsters:  Along with Ghosts, The Complete Daimajin Trilogy, Gamera:  Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2:  Attack of Legion, and Destroy All Monsters.  ADV finally has a good selection of live-action trailers, which is a nice break from their usual inclusion of many anime trailers.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with the anime clips, but watching this selection before the feature better sets the mood for a live-action monster fest.

There is also a promo for
Newtype USA magazine 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 a fun movie, without much in the way of extras.  (For fans of the Showa style, the original Spook Warfare remains superior to Takashi Miike's popular 2005 remake, The Great Yokai War.)  It's great that an older, virtually unknown (in the U.S.) film like this gets such good treatment on region 1 DVD.  Kudos to ADV!  Final Grade:  A
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