Watch now

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available


Onibaba [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1964]

Kei Sato , Nobuko Otowa , Kaneto Shindo    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.

Looking for Bargains?
Check out the DVD & Blu-ray Deals of the Week page to find this week's price-drops. Deals of the Week end on Sunday at 23:59.


Rent Onibaba on DVD from LOVEFiLM By Post

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Product details

  • Actors: Kei Sato, Nobuko Otowa
  • Directors: Kaneto Shindo
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Aug 2005
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009N8HQW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,145 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



If Hammer Studios had ever set up a Japanese franchise, the outcome might have looked rather like this. Kaneto Shindo's film has something of the lurid, full-throated relish for the horror of Hammer at its best, plus a visual elegance all its own. The story is based on a folk tale, set in Japan's war-torn 14th century. The action takes place almost entirely in a riverside marshland overgrown with tall swaying reeds. A woman and her daughter-in-law living in a hut prey on wounded samurai warriors fleeing from a nearby battlefield, killing them and selling their armour for handfuls of rice. When the younger woman falls for a handsome young deserter, the mother decides to put a stop to the affair. But the method she chooses demands a terrible price. Shooting in lustrous widescreen black-and-white, Shindo creates an eerie, atmospheric world haunted by the ceaseless dry whisperings of the reeds. None of the characters is loveable, or even likeable, but the thorough rapacity of the women, and the raw sexuality of the lovers, convey a fierce determination to survive even at the lowest scavenging edge of a violent society. --Philip Kemp

Product Description

Kaneto Shindo, one of Japan's most prolific directors, received his biggest international success with the release of Onibaba in 1964. Its depiction of violence and graphic sexuality was unprecedented at the time of release. Shindo managed — through his own production company Kindai Eiga Kyokai — to bypass the strict, self-regulated Japanese film industry and pave the way for such films as Yasuzo Masumura's Mojuu (1969) and Nagisa Oshima's Ai no corrida (1976).

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prisoners of the Grass 6 July 2011
Never has a film been more a prisoner of its own environment than this film, which is shot entirely amongst the beautiful swaying susuki grass. Hiroshi Teshigahara's "Woman of the Dunes" was a similar captive to the all pervading sands it was filmed in. It is as if the characters of the film are marooned on an isolated island, where they scavenge off the flotsam that comes their way. In this instance it happens to be the hapless half dead soldiers of 14th century feudal Japan who fall victims to an old woman and her daughter in law. These unfortunate victims are polished off in brutal fashion by the women and then robbed of all their armour. The bodies are then dumped unceremoniously down a sinister black hole. They then sell their ill gotten gains for much needed food and then wait like spiders for the next juicy flies to fall into their web. Just when things seem to be going so well a man enters their lives to turn their cloistered existence upside down.

The film was a financial success which is unsurprising given the heavy marketing of the strong sexual content. Strong for the time I should hasten to add! Apart from a few bare breasts and some simulated sex there is only enough naughty content to upset a prudish granny. It all seems a bit tame by todays standards! The film was initially refused a certificate in the UK. It is beautifully shot amongst the grass with some memorable scenes, none better than the young woman running breathlessly through the swaying sea of grass to her lover, the grass seeming to possess a life of its own. The repressed emotions are beautifully conveyed by Nobuko Otawa as the older woman, with mere glances and expressions. Otawa also happened to be the wife and muse of the director Kaneto Shindo.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demon Woman 30 Jun 2006
ONIBABA was a worldwide hit when it was released in 1964. It's not hard to see why. The film is an allegory on several levels, commenting on the pointlessness of war and the failings of capitalism. The film can be enjoyed without appreciating any of that, with it's simmering erotisim and superb photography in a unique setting.

The DVD has worthwhile extras. The director's and actor's commentary is quite interesting as is the home video footage taken on location by Kei Sato.

Highly recommended
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Prime Evil 31 Dec 2013
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Japan during the feudal era relegated the peasants to the edge of extinction as they could no longer grow crops due to the incessant raiding and fighting of the Samurai classes. Clasping their bushido code, the samurai lopped off inferior heads with impunity as the law was replaced with disputed power. Knowing this leads us to the film where the Bushido "values" are turned upside down. Women on the margins have ripped up the rule book. The film focuses on two women, daughter in law and mother in law who wait for their son and husband to return after being dragged off to fight on one of the many sides of the era.

Two peasant women embark upon a "will to power" to avenge their plight as all the men have been plucked from the land to engage in the futile struggle of the men of power. Surviving they strike up a two woman team who prey upon the "vulnerable" Samurai who enter the swamp world they inhabit. Filmed in a stark black and white the film reaches into the primeval ooze of life to show how those cast out into the margins survive hand to mouth. Within this world a sexual frission and erotic desire cackles with an electric spark. Also within this bubble, supernatural elements arise, in the shape of a mask which entraps the wearer. Everyone as the film depicts wears a mask to the outside world.

Detailing the exploitation which takes place between the women and the Samurai and the women and those who prey upon them, the film resonates with an emotional quiver wrapped up within a cold austere mask. Very Japanese in its slow pace and filmic vision of how nature operates within a system of social collapse it deserves its masterpiece status. It is no gung ho, sex filled opus however.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Film About Japan 12 Aug 2006
I first saw this film during the late 1960s and thought then it was something special. Certainly very different to what Hollywood was producing at the time. This film, superbly filmed and acted, oozes a tremendous atmosphere throughout. Set during the civil wars which blighted Japan during the 16th century, two women, mother and daughter, struggle to survive within a torrid landscape riddled with death. They strip dead Samurai warriors of their armour to sell in order to feed themselves. The daughter then develops a relationship with a warrior who has escaped the war and is just looking for a peaceful and loving existence. Her mother becomes jealous and develops plans to destroy the relationship. Although the ending is a little bizarre, it just ends abruptly, it doesnt spoil the film entirely. There is enough in this film to satisfy any movie buff. Worth seeing.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can You Dig it? 13 Oct 2006
The general belief that the 1960's was the ground-zero for massive sociological upheaval is one that generally forgets that that decade was almost half over by the time it became the era we remember it for. Until Lee Harvey Oswald's starting rifle ushered in the Love and Napalm dynasty, the first part of the 60's was really a 1950's hangover.

Roughly speaking, `The 60's' only kicked in when the Beatles Landed in America in '64 and ended when the American's landed on the moon five years later. (Were they trying to tell us something?) The so called permissive society emerged from the cultural turbulence of a `swinging London', a `flowered up' San Francisco and a burning Saigon and, as the history books would have it, appeared to challenge everything. Overt sexual, pharmaceutical and political references in entertainment became de rigor and everyone, it seemed, were cutting-edge pioneers at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Meanwhile on the other side of the planet, and away from `the world', it was just another day at the office for director Kaneto Shindo when he released his haunting sex/death opus Onibaba.

Onibaba (`Demon Hag') is based on a Buddhist fable and tells the story of an old woman and her young daughter-in-law during 14th century feudal Japan (or 16th, or 17th depending on who's website you use to check these things) who live in a seemingly endless swamp of high reeds and survive by murdering lost or renegade Samurai warriors.

They strip their victims of their armour to sell for food then dispose of the bodies in a deep dark ominous hole.

One day a masked stranger is passing and forces the old woman to help him find his way to Kyoto.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Japanese classic. Very controversial. It ran for ...
A Japanese classic.Very controversial. It ran for a year in Montreal when first released and was banned in many countries.
Published 18 days ago by Peter M
Published 1 month ago by colin syddall
5.0 out of 5 stars Master of Cinema, brilliant
Excellent if like me you like Asian Films and Dramas. As with all Asian Films, always exciting, always sad, and always full of action, excellent in so many ways.
Published 1 month ago by Seligor
5.0 out of 5 stars The best 'ghost' story
Can we have a sixth star? The best 'ghost' story ever
Published 1 month ago by MC
5.0 out of 5 stars When noble samurai fight for the power over the land, the humble just...
I liked this 1964 ground-breaking drama about two women trying to survive in the middle of merciless Nanbokucho Wars which devastated Japan during most of XIV century. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Maciej
Published 7 months ago by HAN XIAO
5.0 out of 5 stars Japanese cinema
Not exactly what I expected, but as a Japanese cinema buff followed and understood the theme. A lot of the shooting is done at night, a real mood story. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Buccaneer
4.0 out of 5 stars TO DISCOVER
It's always endless the number of japanese films that I don't know, and always a pleasure do discover them in fine copies. Thanks Masters of Cinema!
Published 15 months ago by JLR
5.0 out of 5 stars An atmospheric Japanese classic
Onibaba is a classic Japanese movie which, due to its location (fields of reeds and tall grasses waving in the breeze) and the excellent cinematography has a sweat-soaked... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Fergus Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars Onibaba was a high quality blue ray
This is a classic movie of great clarity and a very clean print , It arrived to us well within the stipulated time limit so we are pleased.
Published 17 months ago by Karin Tomasian
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category