Director Kevin Connor has made some very intersting movies in his time, chief among them the terrific Amicus anthology of spooky stories, "From Beyond The Grave," in which various items bought or stolen from Peter Cushing's antiques shop trigger the various tales. In a way, this film feels like an extended episode from that film, in that it's a slight enough yarn with some fairly generic elements, but told in an engaged and wholehearted way that makes it fresh and even, at moments, genuinely creepy.
Susan George and Edward Albert arrive in Japan with their daughter and move into an old house which they know to be "haunted". What they don't know is that the ghosts are the result of a samurai love triangle (how perfectly those three words go together) that ended with swords flashing, heads chooped off and blood all over the nice paper walls.
Shot on location in Japan (with local colour that suggests the second unit director may have been Alan Whicker) with the collaboration of Toei studios, the film gains a great deal of its unsettling atmosphere from the overlap of Japanese and American film-making styles. The ghosts wander around the house, visible to us but not, at first, to the newcomers. The female ghost possesses Susan George, trying her on for size as if she's an item of clothing, and it becomes clear that they're intent on replaying the events of their deaths. But to this end they'll need a third party to the triangle. Luckily for them (and you're going to think I'm making this up) family friend Doug (brother of Troy) McClure is at hand.
I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite so strange as the love scene enacted between Doug McClure and Susan George. As lovely as miss George is, I fear the world will never be ready for the sight of Doug's bum.
Speaking of weird, Edward Albert, as the husband, looks like a photograph in a barbershop, circa 1973. Between his moustache and his luxurious seventies coiffure (yes, I know the film was made in 1982) he's sporting so much hair that if he walked through an airport it would almost count as trafficking. His disengaged performance somehow works, though, making real the emotional void necessary for the ghosts to rush in and have their wicked fun. I'll be watching this film again soon.