We all know about popular Japanese movies such as The Ring and Grudge and while those can be scary they only touch a bit of Japanese horror really is. From what I’ve noticed I can say that in Western countries they tend to mostly rely more on bodily horror (blood and guts everywhere), but in Japan the style of horror is more psychological mind fucking, though there are some gory kick ass Japanese movies such as Machine Girl, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and Battle Royale. Here’s some to get under your skin.
1. Audition (1999)
A widower holds a fake “audition” to look for a new wife and comes across a recluse but seemingly sweet young woman. Over some time they get to know each other and everything appears to turn for the best until she discovers that he’s been married before and well, it all goes for the worst as she turns out to be a psychopath. A bit predictable and it’s a long movie but it’s still horrifying at the end.
2. Reincarnation (2005)
From the same director that gave you The Grunge and Marebito, it follows a group of actors and actresses that visit an abandoned hotel building to reenact the murderers of eleven people that a college professor did in order to understand reincarnation. All of the characters turn out to be reincarnations of the victims and one finds out that they are the rebirth of the professor. Sounds pretty psycho already?
3. The Tomie series (started in 1999)
Based on Junji Ito’s manga of the same name with nine installments to date, it’s the longest running Japanese horror series. It’s about a teenage girl named Tomie that is so exceptionally beautiful she drives all the men literally crazy, which ends in her deaths but she is able to regenerate over and over again.
4. Strange Circus (2005)
Easily in my top five for the most screwed up films ever. There’s a trigger warning for everything. The cinematography is great and it’s nicely made but it’s violent and disturbing on so many levels. I only recommend this if you have a REALLY strong stomach. Seriously, it’s not for the faint of heart. After a young girl walks in on her parents having sex, the father forces her to join in and sexually abuses her her entire life. There’s a big twist in the end I didn’t expect.
Are you more of a reader? In my opinion, he best modern Japanese horror writers are Junji Ito and Shintaro Kago. Again, they’re not for squeamish writers but if you enjoy being freaked out then go for it.