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Japanese Horror

Page history last edited by Meredith McLean 10 years, 10 months ago

Japanese Horror Movies/ J-Horror


Japanese horror movies are a unique form of the horror fiction genre of film in popular culture today. Their horror movies are noted for their focus on psychological terror and tension building plots; many involving ghosts and poltergeists. The origins of Japanese horror can be traced back to the classic ghosts tales of the Edo period and Meiji period, incorporating many classic folk stories in modern film.The format of a Japanese horror movie is a deliberate pace, quiet terror emphasized through suspense, morality tales, and a focus on vengeance; there is a stronger emphasis on what is not seen through slower tension rather than scenes in which things jump out at you, such as in Western horror.


What makes Japanese horror movies different than our Western style is the nature of the traditional Japanese ghost. In their folklore, most spirits that haunt the living are female ghosts. This is because of the belief that ghosts walking the earth are vengeful spirits, called Onryo, who have been wronged in life. Therefore, these female spirits will tend to haunt those that wronged them until they commit suicide. In most J-horror, the ghosts never actually directly kill the living, but rather, suicide is a more prevalent theme in their movies. The Eastern culture believes women are more likely to be ghosts because they are driven by stronger emotions than men, and thus if they have been wronged in life, they are more likely to seek vengeance and become stronger in death. The Onryo traditionally has no set appearance, but during the Edo period, a certain style or costume emerged due to the popularity of Kabuki:


A ghost costume consisted of three main elements:

  • White burial kimono
  • Wild, unkempt long black hair
  • White and indigo face make-up called aiguma.


In Audition, a well-known Japanese horror, the movie deals more with a psychotic female character, rather than a ghost.


Examples of Well Known Japanese Horror Films:


Popular examples of vengeful spirits : Ju-on (The Grudge) and Ringu (The Ring).


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Ring is about a cursed, disturbing videotape that, when watched, will cause the viewer to die a week after. The film is the highest grossing horror film in Japan at 12 billion yen ($137.7 million) and is also considered the most frightening horror film in Japan according to the investigation of Oricon.


The Ring also highlights another aspects of Japanese horror, which is the use of technology as something to be feared and ultimately be the decline of people. Ringu uses the fear of television/videotapes as the means by which the spirit attacks the living and enter our world. In the movie Pulse (Kairo), civilization is brought down by the advancement of the internet that makes people commit suicide through a chain reaction through the computer. In Shutter, it is through cameras and photography that the main characters are able to see the vengeful ghost that is haunting them.


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America has borrowed many movies from Japanese horror films and tried to re-make many classics. For example, we have redone many popular films such as:








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