Japanese Horror Films

 
 
Being October, and just over a week away from Halloween you’re probably wanting to get in the Halloween mood, and seeing as you are visiting this site you most likely like Japanese things, so why not combine the two with a good old scare-fest of Japanese films to chill you to your core!

Please note that this is not intended to be a definitive list of any kind, merely some suggestions. Also ‘horror’ is a rather loose genre, some films here may not be simply regarded as horror films but all contain strong elements of horror.

For those who want classic horror

Ugetsu Monogatari

 Ugetsu Monogatari (雨月物語)

After a raid on their village, Genjuro and Tobei move their families and pot making business to the city. The city is not kind to them and they send their wives home promising to return home with money soon…but who is the mysterious Lady Wakasa and why is she so interested in Genjuro’s pots…

1953, Dir. Kemji Mozoguchi (溝口 健二) — TrailerBuy Here.

 

Kwaidan  (怪談)

Made up of four chilling stories: ‘Black Hair’ in which a man returns to his ex-wife after leaving his new lover only to find something is very different with her. ‘The Woman and The Snow’ in which a young man is saved from a snowstorm by a spirit but he can never tell anyone about it…until one day he does. ‘ Hoichi the Earless’ in which a blind musician is slowly having his life force sucked away by ghosts & ‘In a Cup of Tea’ in which a samurai is haunted by the spirit of a dead samurai.. 

1964, Dir. Masaki Kobayashi (小林 正樹) — TrailerBuy Here.

 

Onibaba (鬼婆)

In 14th century Japan a civil war wages, a mother and daughter do their best to survive and prey on hapless samurai, killing them and selling their armor for money. One day a friend of one of these samurai turns up and the women learn what has become of him…

1964, Dir. Kaneto Shindo (新藤 兼人) — TrailerBuy Here.

  

For those who want films from the J-Horror boom

Ringu

Ringu (リング)

A reporter begins investigating an urban legend of a cursed video tape. She quickly finds herself in possession of the tape but her young son watches it first, now she must race against time to save his life… 

1998, Dir. Hideo Nakata (中田 秀夫) — TrailerBuy Here.

 

Audition (オーディション)

At the encouragement of his family and friends Ayoama begins to search for a new wife years after being widowed. His friend suggests setting up a fake movie audition to meet women and Ayoama falls for a beautiful ex-ballerina named Asami, on the surface she appears to be the perfect woman… (Warning: The DVD cover contains a big spoiler for the film, try to avoid it)

1998, Dir. Takashi Miike (三池 崇史) — Trailer (Spoilers!) — Buy Here.

 

Exte: Hair Extensions (エクステ)

A man obsessed with hair steals the hair from a newly killed woman and adds it to his collection,he sells parts of the hair to hair salons to be used as extensions, only this hair starts possessing women, driving them insane or worse… 

2007, Dir. Sion Sono (園 子温) — TrailerBuy Here.

 

For those who want contemporary horror

Confessions

 

Confessions (告白)

A class of high school students hold a dark secret relating to their former teacher and a series of events that shocked the school… One of the most stylish films ever made.

2010, Dir. Tetsuya Nakashima (中島哲也) — Trailer (Spoilers!) — Buy Here.

 

Cold Fish (冷たい熱帯魚)

When a man’s teenage daughter is caught stealing she is offered a job in a fish store to set her straight. The man soon discovers that the owners of the fish store have a dark secret however…

2010, Dir. Sion Sono (園 子温) — TrailerBuy Here.

  

For those who want anime horror

Vampire Hunter D

 

Vampire Hunter D (吸血鬼バンパイアハンターD)

In a strange future time the world is ruled by supernatural forces, a young girl requests the help of the mysterious ‘D’ to hunt down the vampire who bit her in order to save her from becoming one of the creatures… 

1989, Dir. Toyoo Ashida (芦田 豊雄) — TrailerBuy Here.

 

Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブルー)

A retired pop singer turned actress’s sense of reality is shaken when she is stalked by an obsessed fan and seemingly a ghost of her past.

1997, Dir. Satoshi Kon (今 敏) — TrailerBuy Here.

  

For those who don’t want subtitles 

(A selection of the better American Remakes)

The Grudge

The Grudge

The closest thing to watching the Japanese original, made by the same director with the same vision. An American nurse living and working in Tokyo is exposed to a mysterious supernatural curse, one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim.

2004, Dir. Takashi Shimizu (清水 崇) — Trailer Buy Here.

 

The Ring

A fairly faithful remake of the original. A young journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it, now she must race against time to stop the tape’s effects.

2002, Dir. Gore Verbinski — Trailer Buy Here.

 

Dark Water

A mother and daughter, still wounded from a bitter custody dispute, hole up in a run-down apartment building. Adding further drama to their plight, they are targeted by the ghost of former resident.

2005, Dir. Walter Salles  — TrailerBuy Here.

  

For those who want something unique

Shirome

Shirome  (シロメ)

The  real life J-pop band ‘Momoiro Clover‘ are the victims of this horror mockumentary in which the girls are forces to investigate a haunted school for a supposed Japanese television series. In the haunted house the girls hope (or rather don’t hope) to find Shirome, a spirit that can grant wishes, but only if the person asking completely believes in the spirit… This is not available on DVD in the UK, the full movie is available below from youtube. Please not that we are not hosting any content and do not endorse piracy.

2010, Dir. Kōji Shiraishi (白石晃士) — Watch the full movie here

 

Uzumaki/Spiral  (うずまき)

After coming home to find her father obsessively staring at a snail Kirie notices the whole town appears to slowly becoming obsessed in the same way with the shape of a spiral and begin turning into spiral’s themselves. Totally bonkers and more than a little scary.

2000, Dir. ‘Higuchinsky’ — TrailerBuy Here.

 

House  (ハウス)

When Oshare finds out that her Father’s girlfriend is joining them on their summer trip, she and her friends decide to go to her aunt’s farmhouse instead. From the moment they arrive, strange things begin to happen and the girls slowly begin to realize Oshare’s Aunt may not have their best interest in mind. A cult classic that has to be seen to be believed!

1977 Dir. Nobuhikio Obayashi  (大林 宣彦) — TrailerBuy Here.  

 

For those who want something not scary

Happiness of the Katakuris

The Happiness of The Katakuris  (カタクリ家の幸福)

A family moves to the country to run a rustic mountain inn when, to their horror, the customers begin befalling sudden and unlikely fates. An utterly entertaining film that smashes horror, musicals, comedies, mysteries, angry volcanos, a charismatic dog and a Japanese man who claims to be a member of the British royal family… 

2001 Dir. Takashi Miike  (三池 崇史) — Trailer Buy Here.  

 So there you go, I hope that has given you some insperation for some Japanese Halloween scare-fests!

 

Want to recommend a Japanese scary movie to other users? Leave a comment below!  
 

5 comments on “Japanese Horror Films

  1. Perfect Blue is a great film and I highly recommend it, although the plot is very complex and takes a couple of viewings to appreciate it.

    Evil Dead Trap (1988) is a great cheapo B-movie which has some grotesque moments including this awesome scene. I haven’t seen it in years but it has a great gritty feel to it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUFWhP78Ek4.

    The Guinea Pig movies are notorious for their shock value but, to be honest, they kinda suck. Charlie Sheen famously received a bootleg copy of ‘The Flower of Flesh and Blood’ and reported it to be FBI thinking it was a snuff film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR7q9pZ1rgg

    And for something totally different, WILD ZERO (1999)!!! An awesome rock n roll zombie movie (and one which I can’t believe you still haven’t seen!). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLHBZ30tm_E

  2. I think we might have watched Evil Dead Trap back when we lived together? I know I really need to watch Wild Zero! Argh, like I need another movie to add to the pile next to my dvd player!!!

  3. Great selection!!

    Aside from (obviously) the Japanese originals of The Grudge (Ju-On) and Dark Water I also would recommend the following for J-Horror (in order of personal preference)

    One Missed Call (Chakushin Ari), 2003, Takashi Miike.
    People mysteriously start receiving voicemail messages from their future selves, in the form of the sound of them reacting to their own violent deaths. (Source: IMDB)
    Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpsZQrJazq0

    Premonition (Yogen), 2004, Norio Tsuruta.
    While stopped at a roadside phone boot for transmitting his work through Internet to the university, Professor Hideki Satomi finds a scrap of newspaper with the picture of his five years old daughter Nana in the obituary. He sees his wife Ayaka Satomi trying to release their daughter from the seat-belt, when a truck without steer hits his car killing Nana. Three years later, Hideki is divorced from Ayaka, who is researching paranormal persons who claim to have read an evil newspaper anticipating the future still trying to believe on Hideki, and she finds that there are people cursed to foresee the future but without power to save the victims. When Hideki changes the future saving Ayaka, he becomes trapped in hell and he has to make a choice of his own destiny. (Source: IMDB)
    Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlZnhDGzU18

    Reincarnation (Rinne), 2005, Takashi Shimizu.
    A Japanese actress begins having strange visions and experiences after landing a role in a horror film about a real-life murder spree that took place over forty years ago. (Source: IMDB)
    Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsN64WKa9-g&feature=relmfu

    Shikoku, 1999, Shunichi Nagasaki.
    Years after moving to Tokyo with her parents, Hinako returns to her hometown in rural Shikoku. She soon learns that her childhood friend, Sayuri, died several years ago and that Sayuri’s mother, who used to perform seances and exorcisms, has gone almost insane with grief. After seeing Sayuri’s ghost several times during the night, Hinako consults with some local experts on the paranormal and discovers that Sayuri’s mother has something planned for her daughter. (Source: IMDB)
    Trailer: N/A

    Hope this helped! Keep on the good work!

  4. Hi drtotof and thank you for your excellent comment.

    I have seen premonition and like it (and sadly the remake as well, that’s a one to stay well away from) One missed call is one of my favorite films as well, the only reason I didn’t include it was because I didn’t want the whole article turning into the Takashi Miike show as I waffle on about him enough already!!!

    As for Reincarnation and Shikoku, I haven’t seen those but I’m well overdue a horror-fest, and being October and all I think I will go order them from Amazon now!

    Thank you very much for all the information you provided and for vising us! I hope you won’t be a stranger in the future, take care 🙂

  5. Pingback: 20 Facts About Ringu/The Ring | Geordie Japan

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