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 (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) — Trailer — Buy Here.
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) — Trailer — Buy Here.
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) — Trailer — Buy Here.
For those who want films from the J-Horror boom
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) — Trailer — Buy Here.
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) — Trailer — Buy Here.
For those who want contemporary horror
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) — Trailer — Buy 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) — Trailer — Buy 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) — Trailer — Buy Here.
For those who don’t want subtitles
(A selection of the better American Remakes)
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.
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.
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 — Trailer — Buy Here.
For those who want something unique
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
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’ — Trailer — Buy Here.
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) — Trailer — Buy 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!