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25 Greatest Japanese Horror Movies, Ranked

25 Greatest Japanese Horror Movies, Ranked

Japanese horror movies

From Noroi: The Curse (2005) to Onibaba (1964), we rank the best Japanese horror movies of all time.

Supernatural stories have been part of Japanese culture for centuries. The ghosts –yurei – in Japan are classified by their manner of death or based on why they return to the world of living. Japanese ghost stories – Kaidan – are also often rooted in ideas of social justice. The monumental work of Japanese literature, The Tale of Genji – written in the 11th century – contains some of the best known ghost-stories. Interestingly, the spirits of women are commonly portrayed in Japanese ghost stories. Apart from works of fiction, female ghost spirits are a recurrent motif in paintings, woodblock prints, and theatrical plays. The message of such stories is often a moral one. Often, they are a means to circulate Buddhist teachings.

In Japanese cinema, ghost stories only became prevalent after the end of World War II. Filmmakers like Nobuo Nakagawa adapted famous ghost stories by drawing heavily from Japan’s kabuki tradition. These wronged, grudge-holding ghosts weren’t easily vanquished unlike the ghosts in Western films. In the 1960s Japanese cinema, eroticism and ghost stories were mixed together. In fact, many of the radical horror films of the era came from directors who were trained in the ‘Pink film industry’ – erotic soft-core films.   

Nevertheless, in the ensuing decades of rapid economic growth, ghost or horror stories lost their sheen. They failed to satiate audiences’ appetite for entertainment, until the emergence of J-horror in the late 1990s. The new generation of horror filmmakers used the fear of new digital technologies to rehash old ghost stories. The terrifying sequence involving the malevolent spirit Sadako in the film Ringu (1998) changed horror cinema forever. Although J-horror was a short-lived phenomenon, Japanese horror cinema has much to offer.

Let’s dive into some of the best, blood-curdling, gasp-inducing Japanese horror movies.

 

The 25 Best Japanese Horror Films

25. Writhing Tongue (1980)

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Yoshitaro Nomura is known for his Japanese social dramas and thrillers that broke cinematic taboos. He made his directorial debut in 1952 and initially explored post-war Japanese society through sleek crime/thrillers. Nomura’s 1978 drama The Demon offered a deeply unsettling account of child abuse. In 1980’s Writhing Tongue, Nomura once again delved deep into the psychological torment of his characters.

The film doesn’t strictly belong to the horror genre. It revolves around a five-year old girl named Masako, who is afflicted by a strange and difficult disease. Initially, the girl seems to have a simple cold. But when her health deteriorates Masako is referred to a larger hospital where the parents discover what’s truly troubling the little girl.

Writhing Tongue offers a harrowing movie experience as it closely examines the fear and confusion of the parents. Nomura traps us in the claustrophobic world that’s filled with excruciating pain, paranoia, and trauma. 

 

24. Noriko’s Dinner Table (2005)

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Noriko’s Dinner Table is often considered as the sequel to Sion Sono’s crazy 2001 horror flick Suicide Club. But it’s not a typical sequel. The film begins before the events of Suicide Club and touches few of the narrative elements from its predecessor. Noriko’s Dinner Table is definitely less confusing and more structured than Suicide Club. The film revolves around 17-year old Noriko. She rebels against her father when she is asked to attend a local community college rather than move to Tokyo.

One day, Noriko stumbles upon a website where she finds like-minded girls. Subsequently, she runs away to Tokyo to meet her new online friends. In the big city, Noriko joins a shady underground group. This prods Noriko’s sister and her father to come to Tokyo and search for her. Noriko’s Dinner Table has a bloated running time of 159 minutes. But the strong emotional payoff and profoundly unsettling atmosphere serve it well. 

 

23. The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959)

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‘Kaidan’ or ‘Kwaidan’ refers to ghost stories with inexplicable mysteries. The term was widely used during the Edo period (1603-1867). Many frightening, uncanny folktales gained popularity during this particular era. And long before the Edo period, Japanese traditional beliefs espoused the idea of ‘Onryo’. Onryo are wrathful spirits hell bent on getting revenge on the living.

Yotsuya Kaidan is one of the most famous and oldest onryo ghost stories. Keisuke Kinoshita made a version of the ghost story in 1949, and there have been many other film versions. Nevertheless, it’s Nobuo Nakagawa’s 1959 movie that perfectly captures the doom-laden world of Japanese spirits. Nakagawa is a master director of horror films. Between late 1950s and early 1960s, he made plenty of visually rich mythological ghost stories. The narrative revolves around pretty Oiwa, who gets killed due to her samurai husband’s devilish plan. She returns as a ghost to get her vengeance.

Ghost of Yotsuya is a classic of the genre that’s strengthened by Nakagawa’s eerie and impressive horror imagery.

 

22. Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

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Teruo Ishii is an eclectic filmmaker who made 83 feature films across genres such as sci-fi, horror, film noir, and martial arts action. But Ishii was largely known for his infamous list of ero-guro (erotic-grotesque) movies. Ero-guro is generally recognized as an artistic sub-genre that focuses on sexual corruption and decadence. It was part of Japanese literature from the 1920s. 

Celebrated mystery author Edogawa Ranpo’s short stories influenced ero-guro elements in Japanese horror cinema. Interestingly, two such Ranpo’s stories were adopted in 1969 into a confounding experimental horror cinema. Masamura’s Blind Beast and Ishii’s Horrors of Malformed Men.

It would be a futile attempt to elaborate the convoluted, hallucinogenic narrative of the film. The story recounts the bizarre experiences of Hirosuke Hitomi, a medical student confined to a mental asylum. Ishii designs the film as a grotesquely beautiful nightmare. It’s full of unhinged imagery and haunting depictions of the human body.

 

21. The Sinners of Hell (1960)

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The idea of ‘Hell’ or ‘Underworld’ is often exploited in horror cinema. But nothing comes close to the stunning visualisation of hell that’s witnessed in Nakagawa’s The Sinners of Hell. Nakagawa offers a feast of lurid imagery, while also exploring the religious and philosophical aspects of hell. The film revolves around earnest yet timid theology student, Shiro. Shiro is influenced by his classmate and new friend Tamura. His fate is sealed when he gets involved with Tamura in a hit-and-run accident, which kills a drunken yakuza. The irreversible incident takes Shiro on a bewildering path that sends him spiralling down into further chaos. 

The Sinners of Hell is a morality tale which depicts a crime and its horrific consequences. While the narrative meanders in a lot of ways, Nakagawa manages to cast a spell over us with his beguiling visuals. The film takes a harrowing turn in the final forty minutes as it unflinchingly showcases the agonies of hell.

 

20. Ju-on: The Curse (2000)

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Ju-on: The Curse is the first film in Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-on franchise. However, it was a direct-to-video release. Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) – the third instalment in the series – was the first to have a theatrical release and was later remade in the U.S. The idea for Ju-on was developed by Shimizu while directing an anthology short in 1998. The basic premise focuses on a curse that originates when a person dies with a powerful rage.

If you have seen any Ju-on films, you’d know that the films are divided into different segments and each tells the story of a cursed character. Each tale is somehow interlinked as the curse of the vengeful spirit passes from one person to another. Shimizu made the film on a shoestring budget and it features crude cinematography unlike the later Ju-on films. Yet, he was able to create genuinely unnerving scares despite the little resources he had. Ju-on might not have social commentary like other J-horrors Cure, Ring or Audition, but is still terrifying beyond belief.

 

19. Blind Beast (1969)

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Yasuzo Masamura is one of the most important post-war Japanese filmmakers, although he is relatively unknown in the West. He has made movies in different genres. Giants and Toys (1958) was one of his most celebrated works, a satire on Japan’s post-war economic boom. Masamura’s Blind Beast was a visually arresting erotic horror whose aesthetic design was influenced by the era’s European arthouse horror. The narrative is based on renowned Japanese author Edogawa Ranpo’s short story. It revolves around an artist’s model named Aki. She gets abducted by a psychopathic sculptor and is imprisoned in his bleak and cavernous studio.

Blind Beast is a strange, if not an outlandish film, that takes a simple premise and stretches it to include plenty of disturbing moments. The story stops making sense after a point, and delves deeper into the surrealistic terrain. The eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere might exhaust viewers after a point. But it’s mandatory viewing for anyone interested in subversive horror/fantasy flicks.

 

18. Tag (2015)

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Similar to Takashi Miike, Sion Sono can make restrained dramas as well as blood-soaked extreme horrors. While I am not a big fan of both these filmmakers’ extreme horror flicks, Sono’s grim and playful horror Tag is an exception. The film opens with a seemingly mundane scenario of a timid student Mitsuko travelling in a school bus with her friends. Out of nowhere, something monstrous emerges and rips off the bus. Mitsuko is the sole survivor of the massacre, and she runs away in terror. But things get increasingly weird as Mitsuko leaps into different nightmarish scenarios.

For all its strangeness, Sono delivers a clever movie that deals with objectification of women and glorification of trauma. The fractured narrative structure and multiple scenarios of exploitative horror might confuse viewers. But gradually, Sono provides an explanation to the surreal journey of Mitsuko. Overall, Tag is an existential horror piece which consistently shocks and surprises.

 

17. Dark Water (2002)

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Four years after his successful adaptation of Koji Suzuki’s novel The Ring, writer/director Hideo Nakata opted to adapt Suzuki’s short story Dark Water. Thankfully, Dark Water rightly replicated the unnerving horror atmosphere of Ring. The tale revolves around Yoshimi and her six-year old daughter Ikuko. The impending divorce trial of Yoshimi forces her to look for a place to earn full-custody of her daughter. Yoshimi tries to secure a job and eventually finds a place in an old, gloomy apartment building. However, a mysterious little girl from the upstairs flat almost ruins the mother and daughter’s life.

Nakata, as usual, creates suggestive scares rather than relying on special effects. He makes good use of the atmospheric locales and employs uncanny camera angles to maintain tension. Dark Water also works as a fine character study of a distraught, neurotic mother who struggles to protect her daughter.

 

16. Kuroneko (1968)

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Renowned Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindo opens Kuroneko with a harrowing prologue. A poor mother and her daughter-in-law are brutally assaulted and murdered by a group of samurai mercenaries. The narrative is set in a remote part of Japan in the 12th century, a devastating era in Japanese history. The raging civil war for dynastic control wreaked havoc across the country. A prowling black cat remains a witness to the death of the aforementioned two women. The animal finds its way through their ruined hut and licks blood off the women’s throats.

The ensuing supernatural communion allows the wronged women to take the form of vengeful spirits. They lure the samurais to the bamboo grove in order to dispense justice. Kuroneko doesn’t have any typical jump scare moments. At the same time, the breathtaking visuals maintain an unsettling tone throughout the narrative. Director Shindo also imbues a rich political and social context to the proceedings.

 

15. Cold Fish (2010)

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Sion Sono’s Cold Fish is a shocking and terrifying horror drama that reminds you of the works of Japanese radical filmmakers Shohei Imamura and Nagisa Oshima. It revolves around the owner of a tropical fish store named Nobuyuki Syamoto. Mr. Syamoto leads an uneventful life with his second-wife Taeko and daughter Mitsuko. However, his life turns upside down when he meets a larger fish store owner named Yukio Murata.

Murata helps Syamoto with his business and gains his family’s trust before showing his true face. Soon, Syamoto discovers that Murata and his wife are serial-killers and gets caught in their schemes. It’s impressive how Sion Sono manages to balance gruesome horror scenes and dark humour. Character actor Denden is incredible as Murata. The matter-of-factness with which his character indulges in violence is terrifying. The caricatured portrayal of Syamoto and few pacing issues cause little detachment from the narrative. Yet it’s a startlingly uncompromising horror movie in recent times.

 

14. Confessions (2010)

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Tetsuya Nakashima is best known for the vibrant, colourful movies like Kamikaze Girls and Memories of Matsuko. He has a knack for infusing idiosyncratic visuals and efficiently handles elements of melodrama and slapstick humour. But Confessions was Nakashima’s visually restrained work and carries a totally downbeat story. Based on Kanae Minato’s novel of the same name, the film opens with high-school teacher Yuko Moriguchi bidding farewell to her students. Yuko’s daughter has recently perished in a tragic drowning incident. In front of her bored students, Yuko reveals that her daughter’s death was no accident. It was supposedly caused by two pupils sitting in the class.

From then on the teacher intelligently and methodically dispenses her revenge on the students. Confessions don’t feature any outlandish violence like many of Japanese high-school based horror/thrillers. It’s full of remarkably tense mind-games and offers an exhibition of apathetic human behaviour. The film is generally categorised as a psychological thriller. But the stark manner with which the themes of bullying, juvenile crime, and teen angst are handled lends itself to a horror film experience. 

 

13. Pulse (2001)

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Kiyoshi Kurosawa utilises the early uncertainties of the internet-era to craft this spooky ghost story. Pulse is a slow-burn horror that offers a bleak meditation on alienation and loneliness plaguing the new millennia. The film has two intertwining stories. One revolves around a college student who stumbles upon a strange website that shows the clips of his dead classmate. The other story focuses on a student who receives an invitation from a website that would allow him to meet a ghost. Apart from these two narratives, there are reports of many suicides and ghost sightings.  

The simple plot of Pulse can’t convey the chilling experience of watching the film. The creepy, wobbly movement of a female ghost in one scene might keep you awake for days. Kurosawa eschews jump scares for subtly frightening images. Fans of Ring and other J-horror might be disappointed, since it doesn’t have a coherent storyline or a clear-cut resolution. Yet the themes Kurosawa deals with are even more relevant in the age of social media.

 

12. House (1977)

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Nobuhiko Obayashi was an accomplished ad filmmaker when he returned to make his second feature film for the Japanese Studio Toho. The studio wanted Obayashi to make a film that could connect with the younger audience. Developing a story idea of his then 11-year old daughter Chigumi, Obayashi made the experimental horror comedy titled House. The film obviously baffled the studios and was met with negative reviews. But interestingly, it was a box-office hit, and in the later decades received a cult following.

House is as much ground-breaking in Japanese horror cinema as Evil Dead (1981) was for American horror cinema. The film has a very conventional story of a teenager named Angel, who decides to spend her summer holidays at her aunt’s home. The house is situated in a remote area and Angel is accompanied by her friends. Soon, the girls are haunted by multiple supernatural activities. Obayashi totally disregards the rules of storytelling and concocts a string of innovative psychedelic imagery.

 

11. Noroi: The Curse (2005)

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Koji Shiraishi’s Noroi is the most terrifying as well as the most underrated among the bunch of J-horror titles. It uses the mockumentary framework to delve into a strange case of demonic possession. The narrative follows documentary filmmaker Kobayashi investigating the mysterious disappearance of an unhinged mother and her son. The inquiry takes Kobyashi into the world of bizarre religious rituals, dangerous occult and psychic children. Along the way, Kobayashi also discovers that the inexplicable incidents he encounters are connected to a village that was submerged in 1978 because of a dam project.

Noroi is one of the most ambitious, inventive works in the horror mockumentary sub-genre. Unlike Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, Noroi doesn’t just present a horrifying puzzle. It also brilliantly delivers the scares and withholds some interesting twists. Besides, like the best J-horror movies, Shiraishi doesn’t explicitly visualise the grotesque aspects. He simply implies the horror and leaves it to the viewer’s imagination. Shiraishi followed up Noroi with another intriguing horror mockumentary titled Occult in 2009.

 

10. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

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Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo is a bizarre and landmark body horror film in Asian cinema. Shot on grainy 16mm black-and-white, the 67-minute film doesn’t bother with plot or character development. Tetsuo opens with the truly disturbing character of a man with a metal fetishism. Played by Tsukamoto himself, the fetishist embeds rusted pieces of scrap metal into his body.

He is gradually driven insane by his sadomasochism, and one day gets stuck and killed by a speeding car. The car is driven by a salary man who quickly disposes of the body.  But the next day, he finds metal growing out of his skin. The frenzied pace, outlandish shots, and body horror imagery withhold the power to evoke nightmares. Moreover, the pulse-pounding industrial score adds to the spooky audio-visual experience. Tetsuo, however, isn’t solely designed to deliver a horrific experience. It deals with themes of paranoia, anxiety and fear in a world that’s overly reliant on technology.

 

9. Kotoko (2011)

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The severely disturbing psychological horror Kotoko will be a polarising movie experience for horror film buffs. Like every other work of visionary director Shinya Tsukamoto, the film will draw awe and hatred in equal measure. Kotoko follows the mental breakdown of a single mother (played by J-pop artist Cocco). She suffers from double vision and is unable to differentiate between reality and delusion. Driven by paranoia, Kotoko becomes increasingly violent with people who she believes would harm her.

The hand-held camerawork, crude compositions, ear-pounding sounds, and lack of musical score firmly lock us in the anxiety-inducing perspective of Kotoko. Tsukamoto’s highly subjective documentation of the protagonist’s breakdown blurs the lines between reality and delusion for us too. Cocco delivers a phenomenal performance in the titular character. We deeply share her uncertainties and fractured state of consciousness. 

Overall, this stomach-churning film is among the most unique horror film experiences of the 21st century

 

8. A Page of Madness (1926)

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Japanese silent era films were deeply influenced by traditional performing arts including Kabuki theatre. The Japanese film industry of the time also used ‘benshi’ narrators. to help viewers understand what’s happening on-screen. Benshi were Japanese performers who provided live narration for silent films. While such practices allowed early Japanese cinema to evolve differently from the dominant Hollywood style, the film form was quite primitive. However, Teinosuke Kinugasa’s abstract silent horror A Page of Madness was one of those rare early Japanese movies to break away from conventions.

Based on a story idea by Nobel Prize winning author Yasunari Kawabata, A Page of Madness was inspired by German Expressionist films. The narrative revolves around a janitor working in a mental asylum, where his wife is locked up. A Page of Madness is full of startling imagery and could be termed as surrealistic horror. The lack of intertitles also confounds us as the narrative blurs the boundaries between delusion and reality. 

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The film was lost for decades, until it was found in 1971 in the director’s garden shed.

 

7. Battle Royale (2000)

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Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale is one of the most controversial films of all time. It is based on the 1999 novel by Koushun Takami. The film is set in a not-too-distant dystopian future, where unemployment and population have reached unmanageable levels. And the authoritarian government comes up with the Millennium Educational Reformation Act. 

Under the Act, a class of 14-year old Japanese school children are forced to participate in a gruesome survival program. Only one out of the forty-two 9th graders will emerge victorious.

Director Fukasaku perfectly balances black comedy and spine-chilling horror. Fukasaku is a veteran filmmaker, primarily known for his 1970s gangster movies. Battle Royale was supposed to be a satire on the brutally competitive Japanese education system. On a broader note though, the film came across as an allegory for the conformist, totalitarian state. In fact, this story idea has broken borders and been adapted or borrowed from, across the world. 

 

6. Audition (1999)

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The prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike is labelled as the master of extreme horror. Miike alongside Sion Sono are also considered the spiritual heirs to Teruo Ishii. Miike has made gory horror films like Ichi the Killer, Gozu, Lessons of the Evil, etc. But he is also capable of making complex and slow-burn psycho horrors like Audition. The film revolves around a lonely, middle-aged widower Shigeharu Aoyama. With the help of his television producer friend, Shigeharu conducts a fake audition to find a suitable companion for himself.

A woman named Asami Yamazaki catches Shigeharu‘s attention and soon he becomes obsessed with her. But Asami is scarred by deeper psychological wounds from her past pushing Shigeharu to embark on a disquieting journey. Audition does have one of the most shocking violent scenes in cinematic history. But until the deranged moment at the end, Miike unsettles us with the ambiguous characterization of Asami.

Overall, Audition is a terrifying examination of social isolation.

 

5. Kwaidan (1964)

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Masaki Kobayashi is a humanist filmmaker who made masterpieces like Human Condition Trilogy (1959-1961) and Hara-Kiri (1962). In 1964, Kobayashi made his magnum opus Kwaidan, an anthology of four ghost stories. Kwaidan was based on the stories of 19th century author Lafcadio Hearn. Hearn is a Greek-Irish writer and translator who worked as a journalist in America. After falling in love with Japan and moving to the island nation, he took the name Koizumi Yakumo.

All four tales explore human’s relationship with nature, the relationship between men and women, and the conflict between our material needs and spiritual quest. Kwaidan was largely shot inside a studio and was known for its painterly backdrops, created by art director Shigemasa Toda. In fact, it was the most expensive Japanese film for its time.

Kobayashi maintains the haunting atmosphere throughout and offers quite a few unforgettable spooky moments. Legendary composer Toru Takemitsu’s intriguing soundtrack further elevates the narrative. 

 

4. The Ring (1998)

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Hideo Nakata’s Ringu aka The Ring is the breakout hit of J-horror cinema. J-horror is a term used to categorise the contemporary wave of Japanese horror cinema in the West. The film introduced to modern global audiences a lot of the Japanese horror tropes vengeful ghosts, ancient curses. Based on Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel of the same name, Ring revolves around an urban legend about a cursed VHS tape. The tape is said to kill its viewer seven days after they’ve watched it. 

A journalist named Reiko Asakawa sets out to find the veracity of the legend. Subsequently, she races against time to save herself from the curse. 

One of the most scary Japanese movies, The Ring was successful in blending old Japanese folktales about ‘onryo’ (vengeful spirit) with modern technology-based obsessions. Director Nakata created a new aesthetic to incorporate the traditional horror elements of a ‘kaidan’ (ghost story). The creepy sound design and genuinely scary atmosphere deliver the chills while also staying away from graphic violence.

 

3. Onibaba (1964)

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Kaneto Shindo made movies for six decades. He directed his last film Postcard (2010) at the age of 98. Shindo is best known for his intense psychosexual movies, which he made during the 1960s. One such masterpiece from the filmmaker was Onibaba, an erotic horror set in the feudal era Japan. Onibaba isn’t a conventional horror genre film. Besides, it isn’t a simple morality tale. The film focuses on two peasant women who struggle to survive in 14th century war-torn Japan.

Despair and poverty push the mother and daughter-in-law to murder the samurai deserters. They sell the dead samurai’s armor and weapons for a bag of grain. Things turn dire when their uncouth neighbour, Hachi, returns from war. Blinded by fear, jealousy, and anger, the older of the two women commits an even more despicable act. Unlike the ghost stories of Nakagawa and Kobayashi, Shindo shot his film on location. Kiyomi Kuroda’s brilliant cinematography turns the windy grasslands of the countryside into a deeply scary atmosphere.

 

2. Cure (1997)

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The multi-faceted film artist Kiyoshi Kurosawa helped reinvent Japanese horror genre cinema. Since his 1992 movie The Guard from Underground, Kurosawa has made a bunch of meditative yet unsettling horror flicks. The filmmaker’s works stay away from the usual horror genre clichés and offer a meticulous exploration of aberrant psychological states. Cure opens like a serial-killer thriller.

Detective Kenichi Takabe investigates different cases of mutilated bodies with slashes of an X. However, the perpetrators are different in each case. At the same time, these perpetrators don’t remember committing the gruesome crime. Soon, detective Takabe comes across a young amnesiac drifter who seems to be behind the killings. Kurosawa defies the horror genre norm by staging the most disturbing scenes in broad daylight, and through static wide or long shots. The cold detachment combined with inscrutable characterization only makes the ensuing effect more chilling. Cure can be interpreted as a profoundly dark examination of evil and madness.

 

1. Godzilla (1954)

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For nearly seven decades, Gojira aka Godzilla – the king of monsters, has captured the public imagination. The original Gojira made its first on-screen appearance in 1954. The success ensured the creation of numerous sequels, spin-off features, novels and video games. Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla is definitely one of the greatest monster movies despite its low-tech special-effects. What’s striking about the 1954 movie is Honda’s ability to create a disquieting, eerie tone. The black-and-white cinematography perfectly adds to the sombre mood.

Most importantly, like all the best monster movies, director Honda meticulously builds the anticipation before focusing on Godzilla’s rampage through Tokyo city. The narrative largely revolves around a scientist who investigates the mysterious explosion and sinking of the ships. Godzilla was a metaphor for the atomic age. It’s portrayed as a prehistoric sea monster that’s awakened and empowered by the nuclear testing. Overall, the film is an indictment of irresponsible science that casually annihilates and victimises millions of humans.

 

Conclusion

There you go! These wonderful horror movies would surprise, scare, and disturb you for sure. Of course, we weren’t able to cover all the worthy horror genre titles from Japan. If you are hooked into these tales of vengeful spirits and haunted places, here are more worth exploring: Wild Zero (1999), Uzumaki (2000), One Missed Call (2003), Marebito (2004), Strange Circus (2005), Haze (2005), Retribution (2006), Reincarnation (2006), and Tokyo Gore Police (2008).

The answer to ‘What counts as a horror movie?’ might vary from person to person. Hence despite being classified as a ‘horror’, I didn’t strictly consider Shin Godzilla (2016) and One Cut of the Dead (2017) as ‘horror’. Of course, there’s no doubt the two are extraordinary films.

Over to you now! What did we miss? What are your favourite Japanese horror films? Let the discussion begin!