Dr. Tetsuichiro Kuzumi (Toshio Hosokawa) is a doctor in Tokyo. When his wife Yoriko (Yuriko Ejima) develops tuberculosis they move to a house in Kyushu for her health. Tetsuichiro is told that the house is said to be haunted but he doesn’t believe it. Soon his wife is stalked by an old woman who is trying to kill her. Yoriko’s brother Kenichi (Hiroaki Kurahahi) tells Tetsuichiro that he heard a story from a local priest about a horrible event that happened in the house a long time ago. Kenichi convinces Tetsuichiro to visit the priest at the Buddhist temple to hear the story.
Centuries ago during the Sengoku period the house was owned by Lord Shogen (Takashi Wada). Shogen was an evil and cruel master with a hair trigger temper. A young man named Kokingo (Ryuzaburo Nakamura) is hired to teach Shogen how to play the game of Go. Shogen claims that he knows how to play. During the game Shogen tries to cheat. Kokingo calls him out. Shogen becomes enraged at being called a cheater and kills Kokingo. He has his servant, Saheiji (Rei Ishikawa), help him bury Kokingo behind a wall. He then has another servant tell Kokingo’s mother, Lady Miyaji (Fumiko Miyata) that Kokingo lost his game of Go with Shogen and has left in embarrassment to study the game.
Lady Miyaji is blind. She has a vision of Kokingo dead, holding a piece of bloody cloth that bears the crest of the Shogen house. Miyaji understands that her son is dead and Shogen is the murderer. She invites Shogen to her home for dinner. She then confronts him and tries to stab him. He easily takes the knife away from her and rapes her. Distraught she vows vengeance on Shogen and his descendants. She then kills herself. Her cat, Tama, licks her blood and turns into a ghost cat.
In human form the ghost cat goes to Shogen’s home kills and possesses the body of Shogen’s elderly mother (Fujie Satsuki). As a ghost cat Lady Miyaji brings about the destruction of the Shogen family. When Tetsuichiro learns that Yoriko’s family is related to the servant Saheiji that helped Shogen bury Kokingo, he understands why his wife is in danger.
“Black Cat Mansion” AKA “Mansion of the Ghost Cat” was released in 1958 and was directed by Nobuo Nakagawa. It is a Japanese supernatural horror story. The film was never theatrically released in the U.S.
The story is told in flashback. There are three time periods to the tale, present day, recent past and ancient past. The present day and recent past parts of the story are in black and white tinted blue. They represent the history of Tetsuichiro and Yoriko. The ancient past is in color and represents the history of Shogen and how the ghost cat came about.
I liked the cinematography in the film. The choice of tinted blue representing the recent past and color representing the ancient past added an interesting element to the film. The story may be standard but it is presented in an alluring and eerie way. There is a lot of atmosphere, especially in the beginning when Yoriko first comes to the mansion and is being stalked. The only part that really isn’t as spooky is when the ghost cat is a combination human and cat. During those times it looks more like a character from the musical “Cats” than it does an evil spirit.
A ghost cat is a spirit or yokai. There are several types of ghost cats, some are good luck and some are bad luck. In the world of Japanese ghost cat horror stories they are usually the spirit of a woman who has been violently murdered and has come back as a shape shifting cat to seek revenge.