Sleepy Eyes of Death 12: Castle Menagerie

Year: 1969

Original title: Nemuri Kyôshirô 12: Akujo-gari

Director: Kazuo Ikehiro

Scene 1:

A woman is hanging by the rafters. Another woman is beating her with split bamboo till the blood flows. She then cuts her with a knife.

Scene 2:

Two men standing on a bridge. One of them is a “false” Sleepy Eyes. With his full-moon cut he disembowels the other and the camera catches a slop of bright red blood.

Scene 3.

False Sleepy Eyes again. In the midst of bull rushes. He chases a woman down and rapes her. Then he carves in her body: “Sleepy Eyes raped this woman.”

We are now less than ten minutes into the film. So, this last entry into the Sleepy Eyes of Death series is not for everyone. But for those who don’t mind a little violence, it is very watchable, with many wonderful set pieces, and several beautiful scenes, such as when he is standing in a candle-lit cemetery, or another where he slices up a number of rivals beneath a crescent moon.  Director Kazuo Ikehiro, who was also responsible for several entries into the Zatoichi series, delivers extremely stylish fight scenes.

This is not only the final film in the Sleepy Eyes of Death series, but it is also the last film in Raizo Ichikawa’s career as, sadly, he died the same year it was made.

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