Kaneto Shindo's 1964 film Onibaba is an appropriate selection for viewing at this time of year, so close to Halloween. It is a kind of horror film on one level, but also a mediation on man's ability to survive and profligate in times of war. It is reminiscent of Hiroshi Teshigahara's film Woman In The Dunes (which was also released in 1964) in several ways: the sand is a character in the later as is the "susuki" (grass) field in the former, both films have a great avant garde soundtrack that adds to the sense of dislocation, and both are erotically charged in that the sexual element to survive is in the forefront. Actually, both films also have small casts that are dependent on strong performances as well. In Onibaba the drama is derived from three characters. The film introduces two women, Nobuko Otowa is the older woman (mother-in-law) and Jiastuko Yoshimura plays the younger woman (daughter-in-law) who are surviving in wartime by murdering lost samurai and trading their swords and armor for millet. A neighbor who was forced to go to war with the old woman's son, Hachi (Kei Sato), returns from war without the woman's son, who he says was killed. Sexual tension builds at the consternation of the older woman who tries to scare off the younger woman from her nightly visits to Hachi buy wearing a demon mask that she got from a samurai she has killed. The mask sticks to her face and the younger woman must helps her remove it and it takes off the flesh when it is removed. This story is based on a Buddhist parable to encourage women's attendance at religious ceremonies, but here it becomes a cautionary tale of sexual jealousy and unrequited passion. Some of the features on the Criterion edition includes: a video interview with writer/director Kaneto Shindo, rare black and white footage provided by actor Kei Sato, shot on location during the filming, an essay by Asian cinema critic Chuck Stephens, film maker's statement by Shindo, and English translation of the original Buddhist fable that inspired the film.