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Japanese Horror
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Japanese Horror
Topic Owner: SailorJupiter
Topic: This topic is for the discussion of live-action/animated Japanese horror.
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After the woeful US remake of Kairo I'm kinda wary about any further remakes. Then again, I never 'got' the whole remakes thing. What's wrong with subtitles? o_O

The whole push to re-write story lines to make them more literal (I hesitate to use the word 'dumbed down' but I admit that's what I'm thinking) is I think kinda what kills remade J-horror. Most of the J-Horror 'classics' have plots that range from mildly ambiguous (Suicide Circle) to totally open-ended (Marebito) to, well, off the wall (964 Pinocchio). It's not like these films have no plot, or the plots are deliberately nonsensical, but rather they have multiple possible interpretations, all of which may be true. Is she a literal vampire is or it child abuse? Is it real or is he hallucinating? In a lot of films, that very ambiguity is where the horror comes from; the notion that the line between what is 'real' (in the movie-sense) and what is imaginary or allegorical breaks down. It's a loss of control, a disconnect with reality.

I mean, it's not like (say) Silent Hill -- the game, not the film -- hasn't been using exactly this technique for almost a decade now. It's not like the plot gets re-written for English-speaking audiences, either.

And here's a plug for everyone's favourite J-horror resource site, Snowblood Apple. No link, because it's a review site for Asian genre films and thus has the kind of content you'd expect, but it's the first result in Google. :)
It's people like us that give people like us a bad name.
Dee recommends BitTorrent or the Internet. There are a couple of small companies like Tartan that specialise in releasing Asian genre/extreme films.

Otherwise BitTorrent and eMule will always have a great plethora of films. If you haven't seen them, you can't go wrong watching any of the following:

- Tale of Two Sisters (Korean, psychological/supernatural horror)
- Gozu (surrealism)
- Kairo (supernatural horror)
- Cure (psychological horror)
- Marebito (supernatural horror)
- Suicide Circle (er, cultural commentary?)
- MPD Psycho (TV series, psychological thriller)

If you're not squeamish, the second helping is;

- Audition (psychological thriller)
- Visitor Q (er, cultural commentary?)
- Ichi the Killer (guro/yakuza)
- Tetsuo: The Iron Man (guro/cyberpunk/surreal)
- Rubber's Lover / 946 Pinocchio (guro/surreal)

The latter set are there with multiple caveats because they all contain extremely 'adult' material; they're much 'harder' films than we're used to seeing in the West. The first set of films are mostly psychological, though some are very violent (the literal bloodbath at the start of Suicide Circle is kinda infamous).

I guess it kinda depends on what you're looking for. Something like Gozu has more in common with 'traditional' horror than, say, Audition (and both are by the same director; aah, Miike what would we do without you?) but the former is mostly just weird while the latter is excruciating. I suppose that's the thing with all these genre films; the horror blends in with the pinku blends in with the surrealism. But there's something for everyone, really. :P
It's people like us that give people like us a bad name.
Ju Un (the grudge) and Ju Rei (the uncanny) are two of my favorite japanese horror movies.. you really have to look at them closely. I watch them time to time and I always see something new I didn't notice before. Ju Rei goes through the movie in reverse chronology (end to beginning in chapters) which was pretty cool...
Netflix might be legal but it's not available to all of us. :

I have to admit I didn't find Gozu particularly extreme. The birthing scene is just kinda funny, really, and no worse than the train-jump or skin-stripping from Suicide Circle, or the rictus death-grins from Ring. Then again, I suppose it depends what you're used to. I can take much more 'weirdness' than I can torturous violence/degradation (so birthing scene okay, jumping onto train tracks okay, man in sack not so okay). I have to admit I also didn't even find it particularly weird; certainly not to the extent that it gets touted at. But it's definitely a 'genre experience'; and the reason most of us like this stuff (as far as I can see) is because it's different to the usual pap we're used to being fed (it's a whole new type of pap!). Might as well jump in at the deep end.

I have to disagree with you in regards to The Eye/TOTS. The former I just found a bit yawn-worthy; it has two good shiver scenes (the elevator and the photo), and a lot of padding. TOTS I liked exactly because it was slow; I think that was the point. It's a very ominous kind of film. I also think too much emphasis gets put by Westerners on 'getting' the ambiguous endings of Asian genre films. It's not that people aren't 'bright', it's just that people have this fear that they'll be considered not bright if they don't 'get' it. It seems not to occur to people that maybe there's not a nice neat wrap-up to get, and maybe that's the point.

Incidentally, that's why I left Acacia off my list. I really tried hard to like it, but apart from a few nice visuals involving string, all in all I thought it was fairly mediocre and far too pat for its own good.

Hypnosis I watched a very long time ago on the TV, but I don't remember being terribly impressed by it. Except for the very, very last scene which still gives me shivers. Oh, and the ending theme song (Saju, "Deep Inside") which I've been trying to track down for years. D:

Battle Royale I think is over-hyped. It's kind of a one-trick-pony for shonky gore and that funny video announcer lady. There are better films about Japan's neurosis with its youth IMHO.

And after I made that post above I was kicking myself that I didn't include Uzumaki. The manga is definitely worth checking out, too (as is all of Junji Ito's stuff; yay body horror!).
It's people like us that give people like us a bad name.
Got Happiness downloaded but I'm still looking for subtitles and some time to watch it in (my usual movie watching time, while playing WoW, is not so great for subtitled films).

I would never allow anyone under the age of 18 watch [Gozu]

As opposed to any of the other films we're talking about? o_O I'm kinda curious as to what other elements you're referring to; the only other scene I can really remember as being 'bad' is the Spoon Scene, and that's mostly implied. Unless you mean the homoerotic subtext?

I'm all for parental responsibility and all that, but if I had to pick some Happy Funtime entertainment for my kids there no more or less reason that I'd pick Gozu than, well, any other film mentioned here (and, let's face it, I'd pick it over almost anything other than some of the ghost films).

Have you ever read the Ichi the Killer manga? I highly doubt it has an official release, but you can get a scanlation of it from Hawks. Miike really, really didn't have to use his imagination (the film is pretty tame compared to some of the set pieces in the original). >_O

Ring was pretty blatant I thought; everything is explained neatly and not even the ending left any doubt as to what was going on. The sequels made it even less so. I mean, it's partly a "gee I sure hope we solve this mystery" film, so obviously the story is going to come together by pieces, but there's a difference between something like that and, say, Marebito (or TOTS) which is essentially told in first-person imperfect narration (i.e. we as the audience are experiencing the subjective view of the main character rather than the objective 'god eye' observer of most films). Maybe that's what the problem is; we're not necessarily used to imperfect narration in films in the West. There's this assumption that what's on camera is what's 'real', whereas a lot of Asian horror relies on the notion that what's on the camera is in some way allegorical or part of the delusion of the main character(s).

I dunno, it's Stephen King's 10 foot bug all over again. He talks about horror writing as like telling an audience that you've got a closet containing a ten-foot tall bug. You can do all the work you like riling the audience up, describing the foetid stench that seeps under the door or the clickey-clack sound of mandibles against wood, but at the end of the day you have to show the audience the bug. And invariably, the response will be relief, because no matter what you show them, the audience will think, "Well, at least it wasn't a hundred foot bug!"

We're used to ten-foot-bugs in Western horror, but a lot of Asian horror refuses to ever open the closet. I think for some people this approach works and for some people it doesn't (King himself believes you have to open the closet eventually; he thinks keeping it closed is a cop-out).

/me ponders the wisdom of discussing this topic at all on this particular site...
It's people like us that give people like us a bad name.
Zonk! I can't believe I didn't see this topic earlier. I love Japanese horror! I'm a real glutton for punishment when it comes to these things too. The scarier the better. ;) I really liked Ju-On. It gave me the heebie geebies for a long time. Has anyone seen Ju-On 2? Man, that one was worse. It was really messing with you. One thing I find interesting about Japanese horror is that NOTHING is sacred!

Everyone knows when you get in bed under the covers you're supposed to be safe, but no! When you cover your eyes to avoid something scary? You see more! Use a copy machine? Don't even think about it.

I've seen Tale of Two Sisters too, but I was kinda let down at the end. It was sort of like Danika and Jeepers Creepers.. those kinds of things just make me mad at the end. X_X

Has anyone else seen The Locker? (I think the Japanese title was Coin Locker in Shibuya or something) It was so so. Rather Ju-On-ish with a little dead green girl in a coin locker.
signature image When you're uncertain or worried, I'll be there for you. I may have no power, but you called me here to you. If you need me... I'll give you all the strength of my soul. I live to be there for you. So you must fight with confidence.
LOL that's awesome! I mean terrible! If you called me with that noise I'd hunt you down! XD If you liked Ju-On I highly recommend the second (Japanese) one!

Battle Royale was very good, but I wasn't so keen on the sequel. :/

I looked up Crimson Room, I hadn't ever heard of it. I haven't gotten far enough for it to be creepy yet though. :D
signature image When you're uncertain or worried, I'll be there for you. I may have no power, but you called me here to you. If you need me... I'll give you all the strength of my soul. I live to be there for you. So you must fight with confidence.
I don't believe that America would tolerate something like that. Especially after the fresh school shooting. I'm sure there would be people protesting in the streets, because that's what they think they should do and there's no such thing as free speech or artistic liberties any more. Just saying :)
signature image When you're uncertain or worried, I'll be there for you. I may have no power, but you called me here to you. If you need me... I'll give you all the strength of my soul. I live to be there for you. So you must fight with confidence.
Yes! I agree! The Grudge hurt my heart SO much because the Japanese one is so incredibly creepy and American movies feel like they have to spell everything out for you to be able to understand. It made me mad. JuOn 1 and 2 still go down for me as the creepiest freaking movies ever. XD
signature image When you're uncertain or worried, I'll be there for you. I may have no power, but you called me here to you. If you need me... I'll give you all the strength of my soul. I live to be there for you. So you must fight with confidence.
I totally agree Talulla. I was irritated by the American Grudge because they just handed you everything and left nothing up to your imagination. That's just annoying. JuOn 2 was SO scary, but I haven't seen the Grudge 2 yet. Partially because I'm worried it will be the same, and partially because I live in Japan and my house looks like that... bah!
signature image When you're uncertain or worried, I'll be there for you. I may have no power, but you called me here to you. If you need me... I'll give you all the strength of my soul. I live to be there for you. So you must fight with confidence.
I think the best Japanese remake I've seen has been Dark Water. I thought they did a pretty good job putting it on Roosevelt Island, etc. It did kind of put some things in your face, but overall I thought it was an OK balance of the Japanese movie and American themes/places/etc. I still think that most of them are bad though lol ^_~
signature image When you're uncertain or worried, I'll be there for you. I may have no power, but you called me here to you. If you need me... I'll give you all the strength of my soul. I live to be there for you. So you must fight with confidence.
Dark Water, that is a name I have not heard in AGES. Like... Reboot.
Life is like an orange, it is small, round and has a few pips in it... Oh, and some have half of one for breakfast.
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