Program Type: 
Girls! Guns! Ghosts! The Sensational Films of Shintoho
May 09, 2013 - May 26, 2013


All video stills courtesy of Shintoho Co. Ltd.

Girls! Guns! Ghosts! The Sensational Films of Shintoho
May 9–26
Screening Room
$10 regular/$8 YBCA member, senior, student, teacher

Specializing in noir, horror, and risqué oddities, Japan’s Shintoho studio produced more than 500 films in 14 years. The company went bankrupt in 1961, and few of their films have been seen in the West—until now. Though they produced works by masters like Kurosawa and Ozu, they are best remembered in Japan for their low-budget, high-concept genre films. Shintoho is comparable to American International Pictures, who, along with producer/director Roger Corman, flooded American drive-ins in the 1960s with tales of rebellious teenagers, vampires, werewolves, and curvy girls in bikinis. Join us for the West Coast premiere of these eight newly-remastered hidden gems.

Curated by Mark Schilling, and originally presented by the Udine Far East Film Festival.

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  • Ghost Story of Yotsuya by Nobuo Nakagawa
    May 9, 2013 6:30pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA member, senior, student, teacher

    (Trailer) A masterpiece of shock from the father of J-horror. This adaption of a famous kabuki play by Tsuruya Nanboku (1825) is a classic of the genre and widely considered the best of more than 30 film adaptations. Though it has plenty of startling bursts of surrealism and shock effects, it focuses primarily on the psychology of the characters: the ruthless, cruel, but humanly weak samurai and his dying wife—and, later, her relentless ghost who seeks revenge. (1959, 76 min, digital)

  • Kabuki on Film: A True View of Kasane's Depths
    May 11, 2013 1:00pm
    Class is free and open to the public. All ages welcome.

    Oakland Asian Cultural Center (388 9th Street, #290, Oakland)
    Learn more about the original Kabuki inspiration for two of the films in our series at this special, free class. Join us for an afternoon of chills and thrills as we study on film the original Kabuki versions of The Ghost Story of Yotsuya and Ghost Cat of Otama Pond, as well as the Kabuki ghost play, A True View of Kasane's Depths.

    To register and learn more details, visit:

    Presented by JETAANC Kabuki Club. Co-sponsored by Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC).

  • Flesh Pier by Teruo Ishii
    May 12, 2013 1:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA member, senior, student, teacher

    Another world of illicit pleasures lies beneath the glittering neon surface of Tokyo. An undercover cop investigates a call-girl ring operating out of a Ginza nightclub, where he is surprised to discover the boss's moll is his long-lost love. This twisty story of evasions and betrayals is set in Japan's sex industry, in the back streets of Akasaka, Ginza, and Shinjuku, in a semi-documentary style with an unblinking recognition of its sordidness, together with a winking acknowledgment of its pleasures. This double-jointed approach became a trademark of the director. (1958, 75 min, digital)

  • The Horizon Glitters by Michiyoshi Doi
    May 16, 2013 6:30pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA member, senior, student, teacher

    This black comedy about a prison break gone wrong was unlike anything else Shintoho was making at the time. Released just before the studio’s collapse, The Horizon Glitters is a brilliant one-off that doesn’t fit in the usual genre boxes, made with a freedom and an energy that verge on the anarchic. A motor-mouthed proto-punk breaks out of prison with his cellmates, in search of a large cache of diamonds. Director Michiyoshi Doi spices the journey with incidents and antics that are a mix of slapstick and surreal. (1960, 89 min, digital)

  • DOUBLE FEATURE: Vampire Bride and Ghost Cat of Otama Pond
    May 19, 2013 1:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 Regular/$8 YBCA member, senior, student, or teacher

    Vampire Bride by Kyotaro Namiki, 2 PM
    Fujiko, a dance student with a horrific facial scar, seeks help from a sorceress in the mountains, who ultimately transforms her into a powerful monster. After undergoing a ritual that results in her temporary death, she returns to life as a fanged, hairy beast. Vampire Bride is a deeply odd take on the vampire theme, with a suitably deranged performance by young actress Ikeuchi Junko. (1960, 80 min, digital)

    Ghost Cat of Otama Pond by Yoshiro Ishikawa, 3:45 PM
    The story of Ghost Cat of Otama Pond—a young couple caught in a web of ghostly revenge, with a black cat serving as a conduit between the worlds of the living and dead—is familiar from the era's horror films, though the sumptuous production, as well as the use of color, is rare. Otherworldly shades of red and green, shadowy period atmospherics, and a Kabuki-esque theatricality combine to deliver shocks with skill and conviction. (1960, 75 min, digital)

  • Death Row Woman by Nobuo Nakagawa
    May 23, 2013 6:30pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA member, senior, student, teacher

    Arrested for the murder of her wealthy businessman father, convicted on false evidence and sentenced to death, Kyoko is determined to prove her innocence. With the aid of an older convict, she makes a daring escape and reunites with her fiancé. But with the police closing in, can they unmask the real killer in time? The film is closer in sensibility to the era's “women's pictures,” whose typical themes were female suffering and sacrifice, than the women-in-prison exploitation pics of the 1970s. On the other hand, Death Row Woman provided the template for several of Shintoho’s frequent themes, from its woman-on-woman brawls to its (mild by later standards) depictions of same-sex desire. (1960, 78 min, digital)

  • DOUBLE FEATURE: Yellow Line and Revenge of the Pearl Queen
    May 26, 2013 1:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 Regular/$8 YBCA member, senior, student, or teacher

    Yellow Line by Teruo Ishii, 2 PM
    (Trailer) An exotic dancer is kidnapped by a killer on the run. When her newspaper reporter boyfriend finds her missing, he starts a search that leads him to Kobe and its teeming foreign “kasbah.” In this film, more than any other in his Shintoho period, director Ishii was able to create his own unique atmosphere, somewhere on the borderland between dream and reality, where the forbidden and unlawful thrill and threaten in equal measure. (1960, 70 min, digital)

    Revenge of the Pearl Queen by Toshio Shimura, 3:30 PM
    When Shintoho's voluptuous new discovery Michiko Maeda undressed for Revenge of the Pearl Queen, she hit the screens with a seismic force and a new star was born. Not only that, a new genre was born—the female pearl diver film. The film’s central plotline is based on the true story of 19 Japanese men who were discovered on Anatahan, in the Marianas Islands, in 1951. Refusing to accept Japan’s defeat in the Pacific War, they had been scraping out a bare existence while scheming and fighting over the one woman in their midst. In this version, Maeda’s Natsuki becomes embroiled in a robbery and murder plot, falls off a ship to escape a would-be rapist, and finds herself a castaway among a crew of hungry-eyed men. When she discovers enough pearls to make a fortune, she sets in motion a scheme to trap the criminals who sent her overboard. (1956, 90 min, digital)

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YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Lam Research

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.