The Living Skeleton (1968)


The movie The Living Skeleton (1968), also known as Kyūketsu Dokurosen, is a Japanese tokusatsu horror film directed by Hiroshi Matsuno¹.

The narrative commences in the past, where a ruthless band of pirates seizes control of a ship and mercilessly slaughters all its occupants. Fast forward three years to a quaint seaside village, where a Catholic priest, portrayed by Masumi Okada, provides refuge to a woman named Saeko, played by Kikko Matsuoka. Saeko is grappling with the mysterious disappearance of her twin sister, Yoriko, also portrayed by Matsuoka, who vanished along with her newlywed husband at sea.

In an attempt to unravel the mystery, Saeko and her boyfriend embark on a scuba diving expedition. To their horror, they stumble upon a chilling sight near the ocean floor – a cluster of human skeletons, their ankles bound together by chains. As night falls, the tranquility of the village is disrupted by the eerie sight of a ghost ship emerging from the mist offshore. A voice from the ship echoes through the silence, calling out for Saeko.


  • Kikko Matsuoka as Saeko / Yoriko
  • Yasunori Irikawa as Mochizuki – Saeko’s Fiance⁴
  • Masumi Okada as Father (Akashi) / Tanuma
  • Asao Uchida as Ejiri (Gamble Maniac)
  • Asao Koike as Tsuji (Estate Agent)
  • Toshihiko Yamamoto as Ono (Diver)
  • Keijiro Kikyo as Police Man
  • Hitoshi Takagi
  • Kaori Taniguchi as Mayumi
  • Keiko Yanagawa as Sanae Suetsugu
  • Nobuo Kaneko as Suetsugu (Cabaret’s Manager)
  • Kō Nishimura as Nishizato (Ship’s doctor)
  • Kazuo Mayumida
  • Michiko Takebe


The movie The Living Skeleton (1968) was included in the DVD box set “Eclipse Series #37: When Horror Came to Shochiku”, which is part of The Criterion Collection. [2]

The film was released on November 9, 1968 in Japan¹.

It was released as a double feature with Genocide¹.


“Where so many revenge fantasies seek to balance the scales, Matsuno’s wobbly wonder exults—and finds poetry—in its own feverish disequilibrium.” – [3]

“It has a creepy atmosphere, good mood music (used minimally) and great use of shadows as you can only find in a black and white film. Sure, some of the effects are a little cheap, such as the obviously fake boat. However, they really don’t detract from the overall story. Highly recommended!” – [4]


[1] Wikipedia
[2] IMDb

Last updated byCody Meirick on November 30, 2023