Onibaba (1964)

35mm film, black and white, 2.35:1, Tohoscope
mono, Japanese

A Japanese horror film directed by Kaneto Shindô.

Plot Summary

In feudal Japan, a mother and her daughter make a living by scavenging equipment from who they murder, hiding their bodies in a hole. One day, The mother finds a demonic mask which she puts on hoping to scare her daughter. But then she finds that she can't take it off…


Director: Kaneto Shindô
Kindai Eiga Kyokai, Toho Eiga
Producers: Hisao Itoya, Setsuo Noto, Tamotsu Minato
Delegate Producer: Kazuo Kuwahara
Script: Kaneto Shindô
Director of Photography: Kiyomi Kuroda
Editor: Toshio Enoki
Music: Hikari Hayashi
Sound: Tetsuya Ohashi
Art Director: Kaneto Shinduo
Title Drawing: Tarou Okamoto

Nobuko Otowa (old woman)
Jitsuko Yoshimura (young woman)
Kei Satou (Hachi)
Juukichi Uno (masked samurai)
Taiji Tonoyama (Ushi)
Senshou Matsumoto
Kentarou Kaji
Hosui Aratani
Fudeko Tanaka
Michinori Yoshida
Hiroshi Tanaka
Kanzou Uni
Nobuko Shimakage

Alternative Titles

The Demon
Devil Woman
La Femme diabolique
– Canada (France)
Gropen – Sweden
The Hole
Kobieta diabel
– Poland
The Ogress
Onibaba – Die Töterinnen
– Germany
Onibaba – tappajat – Finland
The Witch

See also
Dèmoni (1985)


Monthly Film Bulletin vol.33 no.395 (December 1966) pp.180-181
Onibaba is at least amusing in its extravagance (much grunting, rushing about, and howling at the moon by the frustrated lovers; murder victims dispatched with a lurid ruthlessness worthy of a Hammer horror), and Kiyomi Kuroda's fine photography makes the most of the bizarre setting: a marshy plain beside a river, completely overgrown with tall, waving reeds. In the opening sequence, two horsemen gallop down the river bank, two fleeing samurai thread their way through the forest of reeds, Their path betrayed only by ripples on the surface, until glittering spears suddenly stab out of the darkness at them. Nothing else in the film quite matches this opening among the reeds, or its aftermath in the ruthless stripping of the victims and disposal of their corpses, except perhaps the encounter between the old woman and the General. Here, as she warily picks her way through the moonlit swamp, followed by the ghostly stranger in the demon mask, The film suddenly acquires, momentarily, The quality of legend which Shindô was presumably after all along.



  • Cult Movies no.10 p.14 – review
  • Cult Movies no.15 p.28 – review
  • The Dark Side no.56 p.34 – article
  • The Dark Side no.84 p.42 – review
  • Japan Forum vol.17 no.2 (July 2005) pp.231-256 – illustrated article (Shindo Kaneto's films Kuroneko and Onibaba: traditional and innovative manifestations of demonic embodiments by Zvika Serper)
  • Killing Moon no.2 p.13 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.33 no.395 (December 1966) pp.180-181 – credits, synopsis, review [author not credited]
  • The Movie p.1380 – credits, review
  • Video Watchdog no.46 p.68 – review


  • Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films by Stuart Galbraith IV pp.105-108; 366 – synopsis, review; credits
  • Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context by Keiko I. McDonald pp.108-121 – illustrated essay (Eros, Politics, and Folk Religion)
  • by Walt Lee p.350 – credits
  • Unsung Horrors by Eric McNaughton & Darrell Buxton (eds) pp.70-71 – illustrated review (by Kevin Nickelson)