Those wacky spooks return to medieval Japan in "Yokai Monsters - 100 Monsters," the second of three weird, hilarious adventures.
This one is slightly less charming than the first installment, but the solid writing and eerie spookery is enough to win over even jaded moviegoers.
The tenants of a local building are appalled when they find out that the greedy Magistrate plans to raze their building -- and a nearby shrine -- and have a brothel built instead.
They do their best to oppose the Magistrate, but his men abuse or kill the tenants -- and finally murder the landlord. The only one who seems to defend them is a mystery samurai (Jun Fujimaki).
But the tenants aren't alone. In wrecking the shrine and fishing in a sacred lake, the thugs have offended the local demons. Before long they're hallucinating about faceless warriors, giant cackling hags, long-necked women, and armies of "yokai monsters" invading the place....
This is a more serious movie than "Yokai Monsters - Spook Warfare," and unfortunately it doesn't focus much on the spooks themselves (although some familiar faces turn up).
They are probably the most fascinating characters in it, but in "100 Monsters" the focus is shifted to the humans and their battles.
Not that this isn't funny, because it is. It's entertaining to see the heartless thugs getting scared to death by the spooks (sometimes literally); there's also a charming subplot about the Magistrate's mentally handicapped son befriending an umbrella demon.
What's more, the seemingly simple plot gets a twist near the end when Yasutaro's identity is revealed.
And though this movie was made in the late 1960s, it has surprisingly good special effects. If you can get past the fuzzy cyclops, that is.
The giant hags, rubber-necked goblins, and ugly furry creatures are all surprisingly realistic.
The only flat moment is a cutesy animated bit where a drawing of an umbrella demon starts dancing around the room.
While it lacks the innocent charm of the first movie, "100 Monsters" is still a satisfying, funny film full of monsters (and not all of them are spooks). Recommended.
The movie on you-tube.