Japanese Horror Movies

Japanese horror movies have been popular since the release of Gojira (1954). The big green lizard may have lost some of his luster, but lately, Japanese directors have been churning out creepy hits that have also spawned successful US remakes.

Japanese Horror Finds Universal Appeal

Japanese horror movies (sometimes called J-Horror) often feature supernatural tales of vengeance. Using themes from folklore and a visual style quite different from the typical Hollywood slasher, Japanese horror movies have become very popular in the last decade. Here are some of the best:

  • Kairo (2001, US Title: Pulse) - With the creepy knob turned to 11, director Kiyoshi Kurosawa creates a tale of isolation and depression in the Internet age. Without much violence of bloodshed, this move manages to send shivers down the spine and create a sinister vibe that stays with you long after the end credits.
  • ?dishon (1999, US Title: Audition) - Like a slowly falling ride, this movie drifts from romantic drama to stomach churning suspense thriller, almost with the viewer's awareness. Think Fatal Attraction-on steroids. With sharp implements.
  • Chakushin Ari (2004, US Title: One Missed Call) - Although the basic plot (voicemail messages from the grave) could be taken from any Hollywood horror movie of the last 15 years, Chakushin Ari, delivers it in a stylish package. The classic y?rei (vengeful ghost) character plays a prominent role, making this a great first film for the J-horror beginner.
  • Ju-on (2002, US Title: The Grudge) - Combining a haunted house with a revenge-minded ghost, this film is considered among the classics of Japanese horror. The simple effect of filming an actor crawling backwards and then playing the film forward is just one of the many visual tricks that make this a stylish, creepy outing.
  • Ringu (1998, US Title: The Ring) - The movie that started the US re-make gold rush, Ringu tells the tale of a haunted video tape that causes any who view it to die a grisly death in seven days after viewing. The race to solve the mystery is as intense as any in modern movie history.
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