Kwaidan probably deserves a higher rating than the three stars I’ve given it here; I watched this at GOMA’s Myths and Legends screening (it was the ~160 min European cut, not the 183 minute cut they advertised) in the middle of a busy week and spent the majority of the film drifting in and out of sleep. So I’m not sure how much of my disconnect with the film was caused by its pace and distancing aesthetic, and how much was just my sleepiness.
Anyway, with that proviso: loved the overt artificiality of the film, the way Masaki Kobayashi aligned his studio-set filmmaking (painted backdrops and all) with the surrealist tone of the ghost stories being told. Similarly, the disconnected sound design suited this anti-realistic approach perfectly.
While this could be regarded as inspiration for J-horror, it’s not really horror in of itself; it’s neither creepy nor scary despite the ghosts and hair creatures and such. I did like how each of the tales (well, the first three at least) operated as fables without being presented as such, each warning of the dangers of romanticising the past – whether it’s trying to rekindle romance with an ex-lover or deifying long-dead soldiers.