Japanese horror is Japanese horror fiction in popular culture, noted for its unique thematic and conventional treatment of the horror genre in light of western treatments. Japanese horror tends to focus on psychological horror and tension building (suspense), and supernatural horror, particularly involving ghosts (yūrei) and poltergeists, while many contain themes of folk religion such as: possession, exorcism, shamanism, precognition, and yōkai.
The origins of Japanese horror can be traced to horror and ghost story classics of the Edo period and the Meiji period, which were known as kaidan. Elements of several of these popular folktales have been worked into the stories of modern films, especially in the traditional nature of the Japanese ghost.
Ghost stories have an even older history in Japanese literature, dating back to at least the Heian period (794–1185). Konjaku Monogatarishū written during that time featured a number of ghost stories from India, China and Japan. Kabuki and noh, forms of traditional Japanese theater, often depict horror tales of revenge and ghastly appearances, many of which have been used as source material for films.
Since the early 2000s, several of the more popular Japanese horror films have been remade. Ring (1998) was one of the first to be remade in America as The Ring, and later The Ring Two (although this sequel bears almost no similarity to the original Japanese sequel). Other notable examples include The Grudge (2004), Dark Water (2005), and One Missed Call (2008)
With the exception of The Ring, most American remakes of Japanese horror films have received negative reviews (although The Grudge received mixed reviews). One Missed Call has received the worst reception of all, having earned the Moldy Tomato Award at Rotten Tomatoes for garnering a 0% critical approval rating. The Grudge 4 was announced in 2011, but no news has surfaced since. Similarly, The Ring 3D was reportedly green-lit by Paramount in 2010, and it was reported in 2016 that the film would be renamed Rings and released in early 2017.
Many of the original directors who created these Asian horror films have gone on to direct the American remakes. For example, Hideo Nakata, director of Ring, directed the remake The Ring Two; and Takashi Shimizu, director of the original Ju-on, directed the remake The Grudge as well as its sequel, The Grudge 2.
In 2007, Los Angeles-based writer-director Jason Cuadrado released the film Tales from the Dead, a horror film in four parts that Cuadrado filmed in the United States with a cast of Japanese actors speaking their native language.
Audition (オーディション, Ōdishon) is a 1999 Japanese horror film directed by Takashi Miike, based on the 1997 novel by Ryu Murakami. It is about a widower, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), whose son suggests that he find a new wife. Aoyama agrees, and with a friend, stages a phony audition to meet a potential new partner in life. After interviewing several women, Aoyama becomes interested in Asami (Eihi Shiina), who responds well to him, although as they begin to date, her dark past begins to affect their relationship.
Audition was originally started by the Japanese company Omega Project, who wanted to make a horror film after the great financial success of their previous production Ring. To create the film, the company purchased the rights to Murakami's book and hired screenwriter Daisuke Tengan and director Miike to film an adaptation. The cast and crew consisted primarily of people Miike had worked with on previous projects, with the exception of Shiina, who had worked as a model prior to beginning a career in film. The film was shot in about three weeks in Tokyo.
The film premiered, with a few other Japanese horror films, at the Vancouver International Film Festival, but it began to receive much more attention when it was shown at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2000, where it received the FIPRESCI Prize and the KNF Award. Following a theatrical release in Japan, the film continued to play at festivals and had theatrical releases in the United States and United Kingdom, followed by several home media releases. Audition was received positively by Western film critics on its release, with many noting the final torture sequence in the film and how it contrasts with the non-horrific scenes before. The film has appeared on several lists of the best horror films ever made, and has had an influence on other horror films and directors including Eli Roth and the Soska sisters.Crow's Blood
Crow's Blood (stylized as CROW'S BLOOD) is a Japanese horror streaming television drama miniseries with an original story concept written by Yasushi Akimoto and executive produced by Darren Lynn Bousman.It stars Mayu Watanabe (at the time a member of AKB48), Sakura Miyawaki (at the time a member of HKT48), Takahiro Miura and Tetsuya Bessho, along with many other then-members of AKB48 Group in supporting roles, and the series was directed by Ryo Nishimura and written by Clint Sears and additional screenplay cooperation by Satoshi Oshio.
Episodes also feature cameo appearances by performers including Lily Franky and Shota Sometani. It was marketed in Japan with the slogan "Yasushi Akimoto × Hollywood × AKB48", reflecting the collaboration between Akimoto (noted as both a writer of horror and founder of AKB48 Group), lead staff drawn from the United States film and television industry, and members of AKB48 Group.The first episode premiered on Nippon TV on July 23, 2016, while all six episodes were released for streaming on Hulu in Japan the same day.In December 2016, Miramax acquired the worldwide sales rights for the series, excluding Japan. The series made its English-language debut in the United States on El Rey Network, which aired all six episodes on October 28, 2017.In the United Kingdom, the series has been licensed by Channel Four Television Corporation. The first episode was broadcast on Film4 on Wednesday 31 October 2018 and all six episodes were released for advertising-supported streaming on All 4 the same day. Unlike in the United States, in both instances the episodes have only been made available in Japanese with English subtitles.Daijiro Morohoshi
Daijiro Morohoshi (諸星 大二郎, Morohoshi Daijirō, born July 6, 1949 in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan) is a Japanese manga artist.
He grew up in Adachi-ku, Tokyo.
He is well known for SF comics, allegorical comics and horror/mystery comics based on pseudohistory and folklore.
The indirect influence by Cthulhu Mythos also appears here and there in his works.Dark Water (2002 film)
Dark Water (Japanese: 仄暗い水の底から, Hepburn: Honogurai Mizu no soko kara, lit. "From the bottom of Dark Water") is a 2002 Japanese horror film directed by Hideo Nakata and written by Yoshihiro Nakamura and Kenichi Suzuki, based on the short story collection by Koji Suzuki. The plot follows a divorced mother who moves into a rundown apartment with her daughter, and experiences supernatural occurrences including a mysterious water leak from the floor above.
The film was remade in 2005 by Walter Salles, starring Jennifer Connelly.Demon City Shinjuku
Demon City Shinjuku (Japanese: 魔界都市〈新宿〉, Hepburn: Makai Toshi: Shinjuku) is a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi that was adapted into an original video animation (OVA) in 1988, directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. The title has also been translated as Hell City Shinjuku and Monster City. It was also released as two manga by ADV Manga in 2003 and 2004. The novel was also released in English in 2011 by Digital Manga Publishing, compiled with its sequel Demon Palace Babylon.
The film was released in North America by Central Park Media in 1994. Portions of the opening fight scene were featured in the 1995 cyberpunk film Johnny Mnemonic.Gozu
Gozu (極道恐怖大劇場 牛頭 ＧＯＺＵ, Gokudō kyōfu dai-gekijō: Gozu, literally: Yakuza Horror Theatre: Cow's Head) is a 2003 Japanese horror film directed by Takashi Miike and written by Sakichi Sato.Hells Angels (manga)
Hells Angels is a Japanese manga series by Sin'Ichi Hiromoto. It was adapted into an anime film which premiered at the 2008 Tokyo International Film Festival.Hideo Nakata
Hideo Nakata (中田 秀夫, Nakata Hideo, born July 19, 1961) is a Japanese filmmaker.Junji Ito
Junji Ito (Japanese: 伊藤 潤二, Hepburn: Itō Junji, born July 31, 1963) is a Japanese horror mangaka. Some of his most notable works include Tomie, a series chronicling an immortal girl who drives her stricken admirers to madness; Uzumaki, a three-volume series about a town obsessed with spirals; and Gyo, a two-volume story where fish are controlled by a strain of sentient bacteria called "the death stench." His other works are Itou Junji Kyoufu Manga Collection, a collection of different short stories including a series of stories named Souichi's Journal of Delights, and Itou Junji No Neko Nikki: Yon and Mu, a self-parody about he and his wife living in a house with two cats. In 2006, Junji married Ishiguro Ayako (石黒亜矢子), a picture book artist. As of 2013, they have two children.Kaidan
Kaidan (怪談, sometimes transliterated kwaidan) is a Japanese word consisting of two kanji: 怪 (kai) meaning “strange, mysterious, rare, or bewitching apparition" and 談 (dan) meaning “talk” or “recited narrative.”Kazuo Umezu
Kazuo Umezu or Kazuo Umezz (楳図 かずお, Umezu Kazuo, birth name 楳図一雄), (born September 3, 1936 in Kōya, Wakayama Prefecture, raised in Gojō , Nara Prefecture) is an author of Japanese horror and other manga, as well as a musician and actor.
He had his first book of manga published while still in high school and made manga his career immediately upon graduation. After moving to Tokyo in 1962 he developed his detailed horror manga style and has since published his comics in every genre from horror fiction to science fiction to humour. He won the 20th Shogakukan Manga Award in 1974 for The Drifting Classroom.Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kiyoshi Kurosawa (黒沢 清, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, born July 19, 1955) is a Japanese film director, screenwriter, film critic and a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. Although he has worked in a variety of genres, Kurosawa is best known for his many contributions to the Japanese horror genre.Onryō
In traditional beliefs of Japan and in literature, onryō (怨霊, literally "vengeful spirit", sometimes rendered "wrathful spirit") refers to a ghost (yūrei) believed capable of causing harm in the world of the living, harming or killing enemies, or even causing natural disasters to exact vengeance to redress the wrongs it received while alive then takes their spirits from their dying bodies.
The term overlaps somewhat with goryō (御霊), except that in the cult of the goryō, the acting agent need not necessarily be a wrathful spirit.Over Your Dead Body
Over Your Dead Body (喰女-クイメ-, Kuime) is a 2014 Japanese supernatural horror film directed by Takashi Miike. It was released on 23 August 2014.Ring (film)
Ring (リング, Ringu) is a 1998 Japanese horror film directed by Hideo Nakata, based on the 1991 novel by Kôji Suzuki. The film stars Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada and Rikiya Ōtaka, and follows a reporter who is on the run to investigate the mystery behind a cursed videotape that kills the viewer seven days after watching it.
Production took approximately nine months. Ring and its sequel Rasen were released in Japan at the same time. After its release, Ring was a huge box office success in Japan and was critically acclaimed by critics. It inspired numerous follow-ups within the Ring franchise and triggered a trend of Western remakes, starting with the 2002 American film The Ring.Ring 2
Ring 2 (リング2, Ringu 2) (1999), directed by Hideo Nakata, is the sequel to the Japanese horror film, Ring.
Ring was originally a novel written by Koji Suzuki; its sequel, Rasen (a.k.a. Spiral), was also adapted into a film as the sequel to Ring. However, due to the poor response to Rasen, Ring 2 was made as a new sequel to Ring, not based on Suzuki's works, and thus ultimately ignores the story of Rasen.
Ring 2 takes place a couple of weeks after the first film, directly continuing the story and features most of the cast from Ring reprising their roles.Takashi Shimizu
Takashi Shimizu (清水 崇 Shimizu Takashi, born 27 July 1972) is a Japanese filmmaker. He is best known for being the creator of the Ju-On franchise. According to film scholar Wheeler Winston Dixon, Shimizu is "one of a new breed of Japanese horror directors" who prefers to "suggest menace and violence rather than directly depict it."Yotsuya Kaidan
Yotsuya Kaidan (四谷怪談), the story of Oiwa and Tamiya Iemon, is a tale of betrayal, murder, and ghostly revenge. Arguably the most famous Japanese ghost story of all time, it has been adapted for film over 30 times, and continues to be an influence on Japanese horror today.
Written in 1825 by Tsuruya Nanboku IV as a kabuki play, the original title was Tōkaidō Yotsuya Kaidan (東海道四谷怪談; translation: Ghost Story of Yotsuya in Tokaido). It is now generally shortened, and loosely translates as Ghost Story of Yotsuya.Yūrei
Yūrei (幽霊) are figures in Japanese folklore, analogous to Western legends of ghosts. The name consists of two kanji, 幽 (yū), meaning "faint" or "dim" and 霊 (rei), meaning "soul" or "spirit". Alternative names include 亡霊 (Bōrei), meaning ruined or departed spirit, 死霊 (Shiryō) meaning dead spirit, or the more encompassing 妖怪 (Yōkai) or お化け (Obake).
Like their Chinese and Western counterparts, they are thought to be spirits kept from a peaceful afterlife.
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