Over the course of three days in March, International House of Philadelphia will be showing 7 films from Shintoho Studios, a now defunct operation that peaked during the Japanese cinema golden era of the 1950’s.
An introduction to Shintoho
One of the six studios active during Japanese cinema’s 1950s Golden Age, Shintoho began life in 1947 in the chaos of a ferocious labor struggle and was on a shaky financial footing for most of its brief history. Once showman Mitsugu Okura became its head in 1955, Shintoho shifted production to nationalistic war epics and low-budget genre pictures that proved successful with fans. The occasional hit, however, couldn’t drain the swamp of red ink. When the end came in 1961, the only surprise was that the studio had managed to hold on so long.
In its early days Shintoho was home to such internationally acclaimed auteurs as Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Mikio Naruse and Kon Ichikawa.
Under Okura’s reign, however, Shintoho began to resemble American International Pictures, the Hollywood schlock factory that targeted the drive-in market in the 1950s and 1960s with B-grade pics featuring fast cars, rebellious teens, vampires, werewolves and curvy girls in bikinis.
Condemned as cheap, disposible trash at the time, these films have had a surprisingly long after life, as well as over-sized influence. Just as there was a direct line from the AIG biker movies of the 1960s to the phenomenum of “Easy Rider,” Shintoho’s genre product had a big, lasting impact on everything from Japan’s porno industry to the J Horror shockers that became favorites of Hollywood remakers.
The films will be shown March 28-30 at International House of Philadelphia
- Black Line (Kurosen Chitai)
- The Ghost Story of Yotsuya (Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan)
- Yellow Line (Osen Chitai)
- Vampire Bride (Hanayome Kyuketsusama)
- Death Row Woman (Onna Shikeishu no Datsugoku)
- Flesh Pier (Nyotai Sanbashi)
- Ghost Cat of Otama Pond (Kaibyo Otamagaike)