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Noriaki Yuasa
Yuko Hamada, Sachiko Meguro, Yachie Matsui
Writing Credits:
Kimiyuki Hasegawa

A young girl named Sayuri is reunited with her estranged family after years in an orphanage – but trouble lurks within the walls of the large family home.

Rated NA.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Japanese DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 9/21/21

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian David Kalat
• “This Charming Woman” Featurette
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch [Blu-Ray] (1968)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 5, 2021)

Based on its title, one might expect The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch to provide some forgotten Saturday morning superhero cartoon from the 1970s. Instead, it brings us a 1968 horror flick from Japan.

Adapted from Kazuo Omezo’s manga, the film introduces us to a young girl named Sayuri (Yachie Matsui). After years in an orphanage, she finally gets adopted.

However, not all goes well, as spooky occurrences take place in the home. Could her father Goro’s (Yoshirô Kitaharab) research with venomous snakes be behind the terror?

Yeah, probably – I mean, “snake” is part of the title, isn’t it? It would seem irresponsible for the filmmakers to call the movie Snake Girl if those slithery creatures didn’t play a prominent role.

Of course, the title also implies supernatural material, what with the inclusion of that silver-haired witch. All that would be fine if the final result didn’t seem so random and largely incoherent.

Perhaps I expect too much from Witch given that it comes from director Noriaki Yuasa, the man behind the mostly goofy Gamera movies. Witch actually came out smack dab during that run, a fact that makes one wonder when Yuasa found time to sleep.

Perhaps Yuasa napped on the job, as his 1960s movies don’t show much of a strong hand behind them. Though not as overtly silly as most of the Gamera flicks, Witch comes with inconsistent tone and a lack of real coherence.

All at once, Witch wants to deliver a cutesy kiddie movie and a creepy horror tale. It dabbles in both domains without a satisfactory balance, so it doesn’t work in either realm.

It doesn’t help that Sayuri turns into a wholly dull protagonist. In theory, we should bond with her and worry about her fate, but she seems so flat and bland that she rarely registers.

In addition, Witch sticks us with way too much voiceover from Sayuri’s perspective. This narration becomes a drag and makes a less than enthralling story even less compelling.

Toss in laughably bad special effects – like the fake spiders that attack Sayuri – and Witch never gets into a groove. Slow, meandering and never particularly engaging, this becomes a feeble attempt at horror.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C/ Bonus B-

The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though some problems occasionally emerged, this usually felt like a good presentation.

Really, only one prominent issue materialized here: defects on the print. While much of the film passed without flaws, we occasionally got batches of scratches. These became so strong that it could look like rain.

The presence of these defects felt like a shame, as the rest of the movie offered appealing visuals. Sharpness usually worked fine, as delineation seemed appealing. A little softness crept into some shots, but most of the film brought positive delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge haloes remained absent. Grain seemed natural.

Blacks appeared deep and dense, while shadows brought nice clarity. Lose the scratches and this would become a much stronger image.

I felt the DTS-HD MA monaural audio of Witch seemed lackluster but acceptable given the movie’s age and origins. I couldn’t easily judge intelligibility since I don’t speak Japanese. The lines felt a bit edgy and metallic much of the time.

Music was generally adequate. The score could sound somewhat shrill at times, but it usually appeared acceptably full.

The same went for effects. While these occasionally came across as distorted, they still provided acceptable clarity. Nothing here was memorable, but the mix was acceptable for its period.

A smattering of extras round out the disc, and we find an audio commentary from film historian David Kalat. He provides a running, screen-specific look at filmmaker Noriaki Yuasa, cast and crew, aspects of the genre, the source manga and its adaptation, and production notes.

Kalat provides an enthusiastic, brisk look at the film. He gets into a mix of subjects and does so in a thorough manner. Expect an informative and enjoyable commentary.

This Charming Woman runs 27 minutes, 40 seconds and brings remarks from manga/folklore scholar Zack Davisson. He covers mythology and monsters in Japanese culture as well as aspects of Witch. Davisson provides an informative and engaging overview.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we end with an image gallery. It shows 12 elements that mix movie shots, ads and VHS art. It’s too insubstantial a collection to mean much.

Perhaps someone finds chills and scares in The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch, but I can’t. The movie seems erratic and free from much tension or intriguing material. The Blu-ray offers acceptable picture and audio along with a few bonus features. The film doesn’t go anywhere interesting.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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