So I am the one to blame for J-Horror July. I used Birthday Month Privileges to talk everyone else here at the Midnight Mansion into letting me have this. So yay~
A Quick Lesson On Why J-Horror is Better than American Horror
I love J-Horror. It’s my favorite, and I think historically the best. You don’t see the Japanese remaking American horror movies (you don’t really see anyone remaking American horror movies, tbh) but you do see Americans constantly remaking Japanese horror movies, to name a few: The Grudge, The Ring, Shudder, One Missed Call, Pulse, and so on and so forth.
The Ring was pretty good (the American remake) to be honest. Grudge was so-so. Shudder was meh. One Missed Call was just the worst thing to ever happen to a j-horror remake, and Pulse was okay too. But the Japanese versions are almost all better–though sometimes harder to follow (as The Grudge is not linear, it can be difficult for someone who is reading subtitles to really figure out the whole plot in the first watch).
Anyway, this is supposed to be quick and a lesson and neither of those things seem to be happen. Oops.
Lesson: American horror is generally b-to-c-to-d list rubbish that is churned out cheaply for a marginal profit. My evidence? Just look at the listing for horror on your On Demand selection if you have cable still (why do you still have cable? What world do we live in?) or Hulu or Netflix. You’ll see that most of what is classified as horror as 2 to 1 star ratings because it sucks. There are greats, sure, of course, but most not-so-great.
Japanese horror generally digs deeper. Yes, it has its flops too–everything does–but Japanese horror is always an exploration in self, into society, and into a moral issue. The Grudge is the darkness left behind after an atrocity, and how that can taint the world around us. The Ring is about how we pass on our pain and suffering to others instead of dealing with it ourselves, head on. Pulse is about our societies growing dependency on technology.
J-Horror Starter Kit: What You Can Find On Netflix
Hunger Games before Hunger Games was written. Japanese style. In a society where teens have become Too Much Trouble, one class is randomly selected in the nation to enter Battle Royale, where they fight to the death. Only one can walk away alive. At the center of the story is a couple that is desperately in love and seeking a way to survive the bloodshed together.
Battle Royale 2
If you liked the first one, here’s the follow up 🙂
And that’s super weirdly the only ones at the moment on Netflix. Netflix, you’re seriously losing your awesome cred. You used to at least have Ichi Ban the Killer.
J-Horror Starter Kit: What You Can Find On Amazon Streaming
(Aka the seriously better option)
Ju-On aka The Grudge
You know the concept of this movie. A boy and his mother is murdered and they haunt the house, bad things happen. I do not recommend this for new J-Horror fans. It’ll confuse you, trust me.
Japanese teens investigate a series of suicides linked to an internet webcam that promises visitors the chance to interact with the dead.
More frightening than Ringu and Dark Water, The Complex marks director Hideo Nakata’s return to the genre he turned into a world phenomena. With only a cleaning man and child on her side, Asuka looks to not become the next victim of the complex!
And on Shudder.com…
I would be an idiot not to mention a Takashi Miike (aka J-horror god) film on this list, and for some reason Amazon no longer has Audition. But Shudder.com does:
A man begins a relationship with a very deadly female killer in Takashi Miike’s ultra-gory masterpiece. Widower Aoyama falls for the radiant and mysterious Asami. But as he delves into her past, he learns her former acquaintances have either gone missing – or have missing limbs. Will he be next? Thanks to its heart-stopping final act, Miike’s chilling tale put him in the pantheon of great horror directors, and led to the J-Horror genre becoming a worldwide phenomenon. If you haven’t seen it, be warned: when the needles come out, there’s no turning back…. (In Japanese with English Subtitles)
One Missed Call
But my all time favorite J-Horror movie is One Missed Call, and you can’t stream that online (sadly). You can however buy the trilogy here on Amazon.
That is my list of starter movies for those new to J-Horror, hope you enjoy one of them!