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Japanese horror (often abbreviated as J-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), particularly involving ghosts 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.
- The Curse (Noroi)
- Dark Tales of Japan series
- Dark Water (Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara)
- Eko Eko Azarak series
- Forbidden Siren
- Gakkō no Kaidan series
- Guinea Pig series
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (Shrill Cries of Summer)
- Infection (Kansen)
- Ju-Rei: The Uncanny
- Ju-on series
- Naked Blood
- One Missed Call (Chakushin ari) series
- Parasite Eve
- Premonition (Yogen)
- Pulse (Kairo)
- Reincarnation (Rinne)
- Ring (Ringu) series
- Suicide Club (Jisatsu Sākuru)
- Sweet Home
- Tales From The Dead
- Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis (Teito Monogatari series)
- Tomie series
- Unholy Women
- Uzumaki (Spiral)
- Akihiro Higuchi (Uzumaki, based on Ito Junji's manga of the same name)
- Masaki Kobayashi
- Kiyoshi Kurosawa
- Takashi Miike
- Nobuo Nakagawa
- Hideo Nakata
- Ataru Oikawa (Tomie, based on Ito Junji's manga of the same name)
- Takashi Shimizu
- Kaneto Shindo
- Kôji Shiraishi
- Sion Sono (Suicide Club and Exte)
- Norio Tsuruta (Yogen, Borei Gakkyu and Ring 0: Birthday)
Anime and manga
Since the early 2000s, several of the more popular Japanese horror films have been entirely remade. Ring 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).
Japanese horror films remade for the US market include:
- The Ring (2002)
- The Grudge (2004)
- Dark Water (2005)
- Pulse (2006)
- One Missed Call (2008)
- Premonition (2007)
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.
- da Silva, Joaquín. "J-Horror and Toshi Densetsu Revisited". EigaNove.
- Media related to Japanese horror films at Wikimedia Commons