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Japanese Horror

Page history last edited by Ian Stephens 10 years, 8 months ago



Commonly referred to as J-Horror, this unique film genre is known for it's thematic elements and, naturally, for its Japanese production. J-Horror usually focuses on the psychological aspects of horror and tension. This focus often involves the presence of ghosts and folk religion, including themes involving possession, exorcism, shamanism, precognition, and yōkai (literally translated this means demon, spirit, or monster)(1). The origins of J-Horror can be traced back into earlier periods of Japan and based on traditional ghost stories, especially the traditional nature of the Japanese ghost(1). 





Yūrei are the ghosts that are most often portrayed in J-Horror films. They are ghosts that have been bound to earth through emotions that are too strong to allow them to pass on(1). Depending on which emotion is holding them on Earth, they manifest themselves as a different type of ghost. The most common of these ghosts are the onryō, they are the ones who are tied to Earth through vengeance. Most of the time yūrei are female but they can be male. They are usually wearing traditional Japanese funeral clothing and have long black hair(1). The other types of yūrei are ubume, goryō, funayūrei, zashiki-warashi, samurai ghosts, and seductress ghosts.





Here are the top ten J-Horror movies according to listverse.com.


10. Tales from the Dead Dir. Jason Cuadrado, 2007


9. Kairo US: Pulse; Dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001


8. Koroshiya Ichi US: Ichi the Killer; Dir. Takashi Miike, 2001

7. Ōdishon  US: Audition; Dir. Takashi Miike, 1999


6. Chakushin Ari US: One Missed Call; Dir. Takashi Miike, 2004


5. Jisatsu Sākuru US: Suicide Club; Dir. Sion Sono, 2002


4. Akira dir. Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988


3. Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara US: Dark Water; Dir. Hideo Nakata, 2002


2. Ju-on: The Grudge Dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2003


1. Ringu US: The Ring; Dir. Hideo Nakata, 1998


Of course there are always different opinions regarding lists of the greatest productions of most  anything, but these movies are not rated based only on how well they did in Japan, but on how well their American translated and crossover versions performed in America. The Ring was the first J-Horror film that was successful in America and is rated number 1 for that reason. One film that is not shown on this list that many consider to be a great horror film is the original Godzilla or Gojira in Japan. Though not as scary now, it was top of the line when it was made. Personally, I don't have strong opinion on any of these films because I have not seen many of them. From the ones I have seen though, I would not consider them to be as scary as I would disturbing. One thing for certain is that J-Horror is a big part of film culture and will continue to be made as the audience grows.


Works Consulted


"J-Horror -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 02 Dec. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_horror>.

"Top 10 J-Horror Films - Listverse." Ultimate Top 10 Lists - Listverse. Web. 02 Dec. 2009. <http://listverse.com/2008/01/14/top-10-j-horror-films/>. 


Comments (1)

Sean Desilets said

at 12:01 am on Dec 3, 2009

* Some mention of Miike's prominence on that lists seems important, under the circumstances
* Needs some interpretive work
* Dew's article may be useful here

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