Creatures in SATOMI HAKKENDEN (part 2)

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Last time we looked at a version of the much-adapted Satomi Hakkenden from the golden age of Japanese swashbucklers. But it is a newer version most of us are familiar with, Legend of the Eight Samurai (aka Legend of the Eight Ninjas).

Produced by Kadokawa as a neo-chambara for the post-Star Wars age, it featured a cast of action legends and teen idols, amazing sets and costumes, and big budget optical effects.

And some downright frightening creature and corpse effects!

Released to werewolf circuits and video rental markets all over the world in 1983, the film's title was often Shinobi-fied to entice craze-era audiences.
It's the exploitation 80's people, let's get some blood and bodies on the screen!
The "Legend" version's marquee creature FX bit is this downright horrifying transformation of an old grandma into a massive killer centipede.



The creature they built is absolutely great, yanked around by wires in cramped sets with frantic camera movement to create a tense, energetic and ultimately very effective monster fight.



Snakey-poo is back in this version, nicely updated.
Ambitious and skillful wire-work provides for some dynamic kidnappings. The serpents have a taste for hotties...
036 Estuko Shihomi, who is superb in what is a rather non-tomboy role for her.


She's got poisonous blood and can never be loved by a man. Her evil counterpart is the snakemaster, and the only man who could love her and live. Thus, they must fight and die, and in the artistic confines of what must be the Klimt room of the villain's lair.


Wandering wildly from the source and other adaptations, the villainess here is Queen Tamasuza (Mari Natsuki), who has traded the kabuki make-up for nude blood-bathing.
And ends up another well-made corpse, the victim of a very 80's magic laser arrow.

This Kinji Fukusaku-directed masterpiece of the era deserves a more thorough write-up someday, but for this month it’s all about the monsters. The Adness DVD from a few years back is superb and easy to come by. I highly recommend, even if there isn’t a toad in this version.