Kaibyo Arima Goten (1953)

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This was the first of three films starring Takako Irie as the beautiful "kaibyo," an ancient Japanese mythical figure who could transform at will into a lithe and deadly ghost-cat. Although there had been ghost-cat films before, this film directed by Ryohei Arai popularized the genre. The simple plot has Irie motivated to make her haunting transformation in order to seek revenge in a creepy mansion. Michiko Ai co-stars in this seemingly unremarkable horror film, which gained enough from Irie's evocative performance to spawn a pair of sequels and many variations. Bin Kato's stark Kaibyo Okazaki Sodo (1954) was next.

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cat, ghost, revenge, shapeshifter, supernatural-powers, transformation