The 1980s were an incredible time for practical effects, and a great time for horror films. The unique and terrifying cinematic experiences made during this era — from The Thing to Hellraiser — owe much to masterful animatronics and other practical effects. But there’s one film that seldom gets brought up in the horror special effects conversation: The Company of Wolves.
Author: Joey Katz
Akira Kurosawa’s storied career is exemplified not just by his cinematic masterpieces, but also how he subverted genre film. From detective noir like Stray Dog to thrillers like High and Low, he never shied away from challenging how audiences experience familiar genres. Never is this more on display than in his 1961 film Yojimbo.
The film is part of the jidaigeki genre, which encompasses period pieces set during the Edo period (1603-1868). More specifically, it is part of the chanbara (samurai) subgenre. Typically, films in this subgenre follow valiant warriors, whose moral code shines through from the very beginning and never wavers. The violence on screen is meant solely to entertain. Rarely do we see critiques of this, but in Yojimbo, Kurosawa steps up and calls this into question.