Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma

June 12, 2017 at 12:37 am (6 Heads, Blood Reign) (, , , , )

Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma – 1989 – Japan

1573 Japan: On a mission for his clan, a young ninja named Hikage tracks his best friend (and fellow ninja) Marou across the countryside. Seemingly possessed, Marou attacked Hikage and now Hikage reluctantly must bring him to justice. But all is not as it seems. Marou is actually the reincarnation of the king of demons. Using his army of undead and yoma (monsters), he perpetuates a bloody conflict between two warlords. Maybe. The film’s plot isn’t very clear.

On his mission, Hikage wanders the war torn country, encountering specters, bestial monsters, cursed villages, and treachery from his own clan. He confronts all of it with passivity. Maybe he is depressed over the loss of his friend. Maybe he is traumatized by the horrors of war. Who knows. Traveling with him is a tempestuous ninja girl with a mysterious birthmark on her face.

Like a lot of anime of its time, Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma is condensed from a longer comic and doesn’t make much sense. The film’s dream-like scenes of horror suggest that the world of the living and the dead are merging. In other words, any freakish thing can happen and will. The atmosphere of dread is pervasive. The scenes take place in eerie forlorn locations. The characters are all sinister. And there are lots of nightmarish monsters: a spider-man, a butterfly-woman, a wolf-centaur, and a rabid horse that swims. At one point, a naked man hatches out of a giant slimy brain. The film’s moody music is very appropriate, particularly the lullaby-like main theme.

In typical ninja style, Hikage dispatches his foes with acrobatic kung-fu and cool weaponry. He has a sword, shuriken, bombs, a dart he spits from his mouth, and claws that he jams down monsters’ throats. Blood Reign’s gore is infrequent but sometimes extreme.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. Ninja are good.

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