Anyone who has been part of the horror community long enough knows that there are plenty of discussions that involve the inclusion of other genres from time to time. I don’t mean things like ‘action’ or ‘comedy.’ Although those will always have their place, of course. What I do mean is those other genres that are actually quite closely knit to horror for one reason or another, things like exploitation and its numerous sub-genres (blaxploitation, nunsploitation, Nazisploitation, etc.), among others. One not-so-horror film that always seems to be brought up, in particular, is Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood.
Said to be born a demigod, also known as an ‘asura,’ Yuki Kashima (Meiko Kaji) grows up, training to be an assassin. She makes it her life mission to seek out vengeance for her mother who was brutally raped and tortured for days, after her husband and his son were murdered by the same four ruthless individuals. After 20 years, Lady Snowblood is now ready to carry out her revenge by hunting out each individual responsible for these heinous actions.
After all of these years, I’ve finally gotten my hands on a copy of the ever-spoken about Lady Snowblood and I couldn’t be happier. Right off the bat, it is clear to see what all of the fuss has been about, as it doesn’t take long for this film to get into the heart of the matter — things get real bloody, real fast. Within minutes of pressing play, I was treated to fountains of over-the-top blood streams, beautiful cinematography, and a classic tale of revenge that I’ve already grown to love thanks to newer films such as I Spit on Your Grave.
Based on a manga of the same name (‘Shurayukihime’), Lady Snowblood, although slow at times, is full of action that you just can’t turn your head away from. There is more than enough blood to go around in its 97 minute runtime, so even though it isn’t a horror film, gore-fiends will be more than beyond pleased. Filmmaker, Toshiya Fujita, did a brilliant job of creating some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen in a long time, scenes of the brightest and most pure whites I’ve ever witnessed, contrasted by vivid and deep reds of plasma. On top of that, his creativity shines through in many other ways. For instance, Lady Snowblood is presented in chapters (similar to its manga namesake, I’d assume), but there are also other techniques used to fill viewers in on the entire story of Yuki and her family’s past. Things like sepia-toned still photographs and drawn illustrations are all utilized to help depict times of war and past events. It is clear to see that Fujita was ahead of his time and even more evident as to why this film has influenced so many others after it.
To do Lady Snowblood the justice it rightfully deserves, The Criterion Collection has released a complete and comprehensive version of the film, accompanied by its sequel, Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance. Both films in this Blu-ray release feature brand new 2K digital restorations along with some great bonus content. Interviews with original ‘Lady Snowblood’ manga writer, Kazuo Koike, and screenwriter, Norio Osada, round out this wonderful release. This edition also includes a poster that not only serves as a beautiful art piece, but on the flip side, doubles as an essay by critic Howard Hampton.
I am glad to finally own this influential piece of film history in my ever-growing collection and recommend it to any of you guys who have yet to see it. Even if you are already a fan, go out and buy yourself the ultimate edition with The Criterion Collection’s new release, available now.
I give this one 3.5 vagina Goddesses out of 5.