Despite today’s announcement from Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks that FilmStruck will be shutting down on November 29, we’re going to be fulfilling our mission until they turn the lights out, and we’ll keep you updated on our programming. This week, just in time for Halloween, Kuroneko comes to the Criterion Channel, delivering some of the most poetic chills in the Japanese horror canon. Kaneto Shindo’s atmospheric fable tells the story of a village in war-torn medieval Japan where a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with his own personal demons as well. Watch this spectacularly eerie twilight tale now in its complete Criterion edition, featuring interviews with Shindo and critic Tadao Sato.
Also up this week:
A pair of films that examine the complex bonds of sisterhood. The identical twins in Australian director Lucy Knox’s award-winning 2018 short An Act of Love, an intimate character study shot on handheld 16 mm, are inseparable—until one of them attracts the attentions of a boy at a mall arcade, prompting her sister to act out. The themes of doubling, individuality, and the ties that bind also come to the fore in Carlos Saura’s 1976 masterpiece Cría cuervos . . ., a historical allegory that blurs fantasy and reality as a disturbed eight-year-old (The Spirit of the Beehive’s Ana Torrent), living with her two sisters in Madrid, mourns the death of her mother (Geraldine Chaplin, who also appears as the grown Ana).
Horror icon Boris Karloff looms large in these two journeys into the macabre from the 1940s. Set in Brooklyn on Halloween, Frank Capra’s spooky comedy Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) stars Cary Grant as a bachelor who’s finally found love. Things take a turn for the ghastly when he realizes that his two beloved aunts are up to some dastardly deeds, and that his long-lost brother—who is often mistaken for Karloff—has returned to stir up drama. Karloff himself played the role in the original stage version, and he also stars in the second entry in this double bill: Robert Wise’s The Body Snatcher (1945), about a hard-nosed doctor and a homicidal grave robber. The film is notable for being the last film in which Karloff starred alongside longtime rival Bela Lugosi.