Another entry in Wakamatsu's series on Japanese rapists. It's not the jolliest subject to make films about, but people familiar with Wakamatsu's work know it's a theme that suits him. What doesn't suit him is the classic/historic setting of the story, which takes a lot of vitality away from his films.
The Hateful Beast revolves around two criminals who lived during the Edo era. They both arrive at a same village, but one proves to be more successful than the other. While he enjoys the spoils of his criminal career, the other one rots away in prison, planning his revenge. It's hardly the most imaginative story, though that matters less, as it's rooted in reality.
The black and white cinematography is nice, but not all that remarkable. The editing and camera work feel a little plain and unimaginative though, especially for a Wakamatsu film. The presentation (including the soundtrack) is just too tame and safe. It's in line with other classic Japanese films, but it takes away from Wakamatsu's unique flavor. Not his best work.