Jigoku (1960)


The movie Jigoku (1960) is a Japanese horror film directed by Nobuo Nakagawa and produced by Shintoho¹. The film is also known as “The Sinners of Hell”. The plot of Jigoku (1960) revolves around a theology student named Shiro Shimizu.

The film begins with a student named Shirō, who is engaged to his girlfriend, Yukiko, the daughter of his professor, Mr. Yajima. After announcing their engagement, Shirō’s colleague Tamura drives him home. At Shirō’s request, Tamura takes a side street and ends up hitting and killing a yakuza gang leader named Kyōichi. Despite Shirō’s desire to stop and report the incident, Tamura continues driving, feels no remorse, and blames Shirō for asking him to take that street. Kyōichi’s mother, who witnessed the incident, vows to find and kill them.

While Tamura feels no guilt for the murder, Shirō does and tries to go to the police. After telling Yukiko about what happened, Shirō insists that they take a taxi cab to the police station, despite Yukiko’s pleas to walk instead. The vehicle crashes, resulting in Yukiko’s death. After Yukiko’s funeral, Shirō meets strip bar worker and Kyōichi’s grieving girlfriend Yoko, who discovers Shirō’s culpability for the hit-and-run after sleeping with him and, along with Kyōichi’s mother, plots revenge.

Shirō learns that his mother, Ito, who lives in a retirement community run by his father, Gōzō, is dying. Shirō arrives there and meets the other residents of the community, including a painter, Ensai, who is wanted for a crime in another city and is painting a portrait of Hell; a former reporter, Akagawa; a corrupt detective, Hariya; the community doctor, Dr. Kasuma; and Sachiko, a nurse and Ensai’s daughter, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Yukiko. While Ito lies dying, Gōzō carries on an open affair with a mistress. Later, Mr. and Mrs. Yajima arrive by train. Ito dies, and Ensai (who was Ito’s lover years prior to Ito and Gōzō’s marriage) lambasts Gōzō for his activities with his mistress. Tamura appears and reveals that each resident has some complicity in a murder: Mr. Yajima caused the death of a fellow soldier during a war; both Hariya and Akagawa framed or slandered innocent men who then both died by suicide; and Dr. Kasuma knowingly misdiagnosed Ito’s condition.

Yoko tracks Shirō down and meets with him on a rope bridge. She reveals her identity and attempts to shoot him, but trips and falls to her death. Tamura appears, and after a struggle, Tamura also falls into the gorge. Shirō returns in time for the community’s tenth anniversary party, where Gōzō has allowed cheap, rancid fish to be served to the residents. As the partiers descend into insobriety, Mr. and Mrs. Yajima kill themselves by leaping in front of a train, and Gōzō’s mistress falls to her death after an altercation. The residents die from consuming the tainted fish, and Kyōichi’s mother poisons the remaining residents’ wine, killing them. Tamura, near death, stumbles into the party and shoots Sachiko. Enraged, Shiro strangles Tamura to death while Kyoichi’s mother does the same to him.

In Limbo, Shirō encounters Yukiko, who reveals that she was pregnant with their child when she died. Having sent the baby girl, whom she names Harumi, floating away on the Sanzu River, Yukiko begs Shirō to save the child. Shirō enters Hell and is sentenced to punishment by Lord Enma for his sins. While searching for his daughter in Hell, Shirō witnesses those from his life suffering for their wrongdoings—being boiled and burned, flayed, or dismembered and beaten by oni, only to be revived to suffer anew. Tamura taunts Shirō, saying there is no escape from Hell, before Tamura himself is tortured for his misdeeds. Shirō finds Sachiko, but their reunion is interrupted by Ito, who reveals that Sachiko is his sister: Shirō is actually Ensai’s son, and Sachiko is actually Ito’s daughter. While caught in a vortex of damned souls, Shirō finds his baby daughter helplessly rotating on a large wheel. Lord Enma gives Shirō one chance to save his daughter, otherwise she too will suffer eternally. As Yukiko, Sachiko, and his mother call to him, Shirō leaps onto the wheel, but cannot reach his daughter.

In the world of the living, all the party attendees have met their demise, including Ensai, who took his own life after finishing his portrait of Hell and setting it ablaze. In a different location, both Sachiko and Yukiko are seen standing and smiling, calling out to Shirō as a sister and lover, respectively, with lotus petals cascading around them. This suggests that Shirō has succeeded in saving his daughter, allowing the souls of Sachiko, Yukiko, and Shirō to be purified and ascend to Heaven.


  • Shigeru Amachi as Shirō Shimizu
  • Utako Mitsuya as Yukiko
  • Yoichi Numata as Tamura
  • Hiroshi Hayashi as Gōzō Shimizu
  • Jun Ōtomo as Ensai Taniguchi
  • Akiko Yamashita as Kinuko
  • Kiyoko Tsuji as Kyōichi’s Mother
  • Fumiko Miyata as Mrs. Yajima
  • Akira Nakamura as Professor Yajima
  • Kimie Tokudaiji as Ito Shimizu
  • Akiko Ono as Yoko
  • Tomohiko Ôtani as Dr. Kusama
  • Kôichi Miya as Journalist Akagawa
  • Sakutarô Yamakawa as Fisherman
  • Rei Ishikawa as Old Man with Tatoo
  • Hiroshi Shingûji as Detective Hariya
  • Hiroshi Izumida as Kyôichi ‘Tiger’ Shiga


The film is notable for separating itself from other Japanese horror films of the era due to its graphic imagery of torment in Hell¹.

It has gained a cult film status¹.

Shintoho declared bankruptcy in 1961, its last production being Jigoku¹.

The film bears the distinction of being one of the first real “gorefest” movies [2].


“Grim, surreal, and nightmarish are the three words that would accurately sum up the groundbreaking Japanese horror film, Jigoku.” [3]

“Jigoku was really far ahead of its time, and it deserves recognition for the absolutely stunning visuals and message presented in it, not to mention basically founding the ero-guro genre that is so popular today.” [4]


[1] Wikipedia
[2] IMDb
[3] MovieWeb
[4] dr-yokai.blogspot.com

Last updated byCody Meirick on November 30, 2023