The film takes one by surprise and opens out during its second half, abandoning the drab realism for some extraordinary colour scenes as we venture inside the pond. These scenes have been conducted with amazing beauty it is as though the cantina characters from Star Wars (1977) have decided to play Alice in Wonderland (1865) on the glintzy sets from a Busby Berkeley musical. The creatures are amazing catfish and green slime beings, one that exists just as a mouth, and bizarre experiments with makeup and hair. The film is often hauntingly poetic, especially one scene where the ghostly creatures are driven back in slow-motion by the tolling of the bell.
Director Masahiro Shinoda draws from the kabuki tradition, where he has made a number of other films, most notably the classic Double Suicide (1969). Here Tamasuburo Bando gives a performance of enchanting beauty as both the wife and the princess. What most do not realize is that Bando is actually a male performer who is in kabuki tradition is an onnagata, a man who appears dressed as a woman. And if you think Japanese special effects begin and end at the cheap rubber suits of Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954) and Toho, then the stunning almost dream-like end disaster sequence will prove an immense surprise. This is a film that should be given a wider release.
Demon Pond (2005) was a remake and is in fact the filmed version of a revival of the play as staged and filmed by director Takashi Miike.
Film online in several parts beginning here (no subs):-