Top 10 Japanese horror films
#10 – One Missed Call (Chakushin ari)Don’t you just hate it when people refuse to pick up your calls? My ex used to be such a jerk about that kind of thing. I mean, if I call you forty-two times in a row and leave several messages weeping into your voicemail and confessing my undying love for you, why on earth wouldn’t you want to pick up? Oh how I wish that in a fit of revenge I could have had an evil spirit leave him a voicemail from two days into the future recording his violent and untimely death. And hence, from the warped mind of a desperate bunny boiler, One Missed Call was born (or so I like to think). Whilst it doesn’t quite live up to other well-known classics, what this movie does best is demonstrate J-horror’s obsession with evil pervading new technology – you’ll sure as hell think twice next time you check your voicemail.
#9 – Marebito (Marebito)Have you ever wondered what’s hidden under the Tube? Maybe a labyrinth of underground cities inhabited by bearded men wearing eye patches and drinking hooch. Or perhaps a colony of rats ruled by a great leader who wears a little crown and sits of a throne of discarded crisp packets. Well the same question was asked of the Tokyo subway by Marebito‘s protagonist Masuoka. After filming a man commit suicide in the tunnel (knife through the eye, in case you wanted to know), Masuoka undergoes a fear-induced existential crisis and before we know it he’s crawling through an air vent in search of all kinds of unknown horrors. And oh, what delights are waiting for him…
#8 – Tokyo Gore Police (Tōkyō Zankoku Keisatsu)Ultra-violent, super sexy and downright bizarre, Tokyo Gore Police follows ultimate badass Ruka as she attempts to hunt down the city’s new race of ‘Engineers’, or in other words, mutants who grow all kinds of weaponry from any injury inflicted upon them. Not that the storyline has anything to do with why you should watch this movie. However, if you’re interested in a mammoth amount of gore, combined with a cock cannon and woman whose vagina suddenly mutates into the jaws of an alligator (probably not an ideal first date movie), then this is the flick for you!
#7 – House (Hausu)Imagine the Brady Bunch were a collective of nymphette Japanese schoolgirls who somehow got trapped in an old house haunted by terrible special effects, a vat or corn syrup and one of those creepy, cheap robot cats you bought down the market as a child – and behold, you have House. For lovers of contemporary horror, watching this movie is enjoyable in a so bad it’s good kind of way. But for a seventies horror fanatic like me, it’s what I have spent my whole life searching for.
#6 – The Grudge (Ju-on)I refused to look in my wardrobe or walk down a corridor for a week after watching Ju-on. I was also left with a crippling fear of small, Japanese boys. Which was you can imagine, can be tough going for someone who lives in the heart of Tokyo. Split into six chapters, each following a victim of the Ju-On curse, viewers are treated to a truly spine chilling array of evil doings against the backdrop of a perfectly minimalistic score and an effortless build up of tension which is sure to foster a ridiculously disproportionate fear of various everyday objects.
#5 – Dark Water (Honogurai Mizu no soko kara)Last month I had a leak in my apartment – what a bloody nightmare! Complaining neighbours, sky-high bills and a plumber who charged me the earth to wrap some glorified duct-tape around my pipes. However, after watching Dark Water, I came to realize I might not have had it so bad after all. When Yoshimi notices a leak in her roof, all hell breaks loose in the form of multiple eerie Japanese school children and a torrent of water that makes the Thames look like the contents of your Brita water jug.
What makes this movie is its pitch perfect pacing. Dark Water is slow, lingering and painfully bleak =- everything its crushingly pointless remake isn’t.
#4 – Rampo Noir (Rampo Jigoku)Based on the eerie ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination’ by writer Edogawa Rampo (get it?), Rampo Noir is on of the most lavish and aesthetically intoxicating examples of J-horror out there. These tales are considered by many to be inadaptable, and whilst this treatment lacks the slow twists and turns of Rampo’s penmanship, it finds new life in what can only be described as a visual orgy of agony, terror and pleasing camerawork. My favourite part? ‘The Caterpillar’.
#3 – The Ring (Ringu)
Yeah, yeah we’ve all seen the remake with Naomi Watts. However, in spite of the familiar storyline (Don’t watch the videotape!), the Japanese original is a whole other kettle of fish. If the American version had you hiding behind your sofa cushion, this bad boy will have you peeing your pants, crying for mummy, and unable to turn on a television without ten years of intense psychological therapy. Drop the exaggerated explanations and heavily fluffed storyline of its considerably weaker counterpart and you’re left with two things – creepy women with long black hair in white dresses and pure, unadulterated fear!
#2 – Suicide Club (Jisatsu Sākuru)Aren’t Japanese schoolgirls cute? With their smutty little uniforms and ability to hysterically giggle at any given situation. Well, that’s until fifty-four of them suddenly to decide to jump in front of a speeding commuter train for no given reason, causing a nationwide spate of unexplained suicides. If that were a movie unto itself, it would be a pretty entertaining yet decidedly average example of J-Horror goodness. What makes this flick an undisputed classic is its sudden lurch into the bizarre half way through which, without giving anything away, involves a bowling alley, dead cats in bags and a platform clad glam-rocker named Genesis.
#1 – Audition (Ōdishon)You know how it is, boys. For one reason or another you suddenly find yourself middle-aged, back on the shelf and lacking in the funds required to obtain either a Ferrari or a steady stream of high-end hookers. For most fellas, the next ten years are spent drinking heavily and drowning their sorrows. But why give up hope so soon? Hell, put your glad rags on and head out to pull a younger model! In fact, why not get together with your best mate and hold a fake audition to find yourself a new wife without bothering to establish whether or not she’s an obsessive psychopath with a penchant for hacking off people’s extremities? Well, that’s exactly the course of action taken by our protagonist, Aoyama, who after a whirlwind romance with his newly acquired lady-friend, soon learn a very important life lesson – when flicking through CVs for your potential employee/wife, always check the references aren’t bad. Or dead.