Japanese Horror Movies: a selection of titles not to be missed

Table of Contents

Japanese horror films are a separate genre of horror cinema that has managed to offer audiences some of the best films in the history of cinema. Whether it’s horror or ghost films, these films produce a different kind of fear, imbued with existential concerns about loneliness as an integral part of the human condition. Japanese horror films have a world view of nihilism that is commonly accompanied by the irrational, producing horror at the absurdity of life itself. 

This tone is what makes these Japanese films so difficult to adapt to a Western point of view, but at the same time it makes them so attractive to those who live in the West. They are so clearly Japanese that ignoring the social context eliminates the fear accordingly. They are not simply terrible images, but a much deeper emotional pain born of the rise of isolation in Japan in the age of modern technology.

Japanese horror films capture the feeling of fear in Japan, which is linked to an intricate mythology involving beasts, spirits and devils. Japanese horror movies are a wonderful and wild world.

A Page of Madness (1926)

“A Page of Madness” is bigger than is known. This silent film had actually been released from time to time until director Teinosuke Kinugasa found a duplicate in his storage shed in 1971. Virtually 100 years later, his expressionism remains something of a wonder, an innovative work that surpasses many other films in resistance to the wear and tear of time.

His story centers on a caretaker (Masao Inoue) who works in an asylum in the countryside. His wife (Yoshie Nakagawa) was hospitalized after being abused by her spouse and later had psychological problems. The janitor’s daughter (Ayako Iijima) also arrives at the psychiatric hospital to communicate her intention to get married. The keeper slowly loses all feeling of self and collapses through altered visions of the past, present and what could be the future, but there is no information on what is actually real. His regret is frustrating. “A Page of Madness” creates a wonderful threefold relationship with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920’s, Dementia“, 2 equally significant personality researches regarding psychological balance and well-being, as well as disaster.

Watch A Page of Madness

Ugetsu (1953)

A man, husband and father, named Genjūrō ​​neglects prudence to make money during the war by selling clay pots in the city, but ends up forgetting his family waiting for him, seduced by a rich woman from a noble family. One of the best Japanese horror films ever seen and one of the most important films of all time. Ugetsu is still a masterpiece when it comes to the mystery of history and the continuing feeling that Genjūrō ​​is doomed. We simply don’t understand what the effects might be for those around him, including his family members.

Ugetsu is disturbing in its history and atmosphere even today, much more so than the more recent films. Kazuo Miyagawa’s photography sets the tone, developing fantastic images that take us to 16th-century Japan. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi is masterful. Machiko Kyō as the disturbing Lady Wakasa is probably one of the most effective characters to bring us to understand what an evil spirit is.

Watch Ugetsu

Onibaba (1964)

The Scary cult film  “Onibaba” by the talented director Kaneto Shindo from 1964 is set in 14th century Japan, where an elderly woman and her daughter-in-law are trying to survive during a civil battle. While awaiting the return of their son and husband, the women kill the soldiers, plunder their bodies and sell the stolen items so they can survive. When their man returns from the war, things get complicated and a strange love triangle portends a violent lifestyle of women.

Full of tension on supernatural film, “Onibaba” is an example of Japanese horror cinema’s ability to adapt traditional Japanese mythology into something that honors the past while bringing it into the present. Shindo’s work set a standard for the genre, and later also helped train extraordinary Japanese horror directors.

Kwaidan (1964)

“Kwaidan”, which is equivalent to “ghost story”, is a 1964 episode horror film directed by Masaki Kobayashi, based on Lafcadio Hearn’s collection of Japanese folk tales. The opening tale, “The Black Hair”, tells of a samurai who is sorry that he left his devoted wife for a richer but colder woman in order to gain a much better social position.

The following is “The Woman of the Snow,” in which 2 woodcutters seek refuge in a cabin during a snow storm. There one of them is killed by an evil spirit, who saves the others by never informing anyone of what they have. Kwaidan is a beautiful study of Japanese mythology and also some of their typical ghost stories that have actually been told for centuries.

Kuroneko (1968)

The 1968 ghost story of Kaneto Shindo “Kuroneko” is a devastating and astounding revenge story about a woman and her daughter-in-law who become evil spirits after being raped and killed by terrible samurai during a battle in feudal Japan. If the plot seems to have already been heard, it is due to the fact that Shindo directed and wrote “Onibaba” only 4 years earlier.

These 2 spirits, called onryo, haunt a road, attracting lonely samurai and seducing them to kill them. “Kuroneko” is an extraordinary version of the rape revenge story; even though they are dead, these 2 women seek justice for the damage done to them. Although there is a large amount of murders in the film, there is practically no blood, but rather a menacing and oppressive atmosphere develops its distressing tone.

Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

The 1969 film “Horrors of Malformed Men”, directed by Teruo Ishii, draws inspiration from 2 books by Edogawa Rampo: “Strange Tale of Panorama Island” and “The Demon of the Lonely Isle” . It’s winding and edgy – a mixture of film noir and horror.

Hirosuke (Teruo Yoshida), a medical student with no recollection of his past, is trapped in an asylum, despite being perfectly rational. After escaping, and being accused of murdering a circus woman, he finds an image of a recently deceased man, Genzaburo Komoda, with whom he bears a striking resemblance. By pretending to be resurrected, Hirosuke identifies himself with the dead, deceiving everyone, from widow to Komoda’s girlfriend.

The Vampire Doll (1970)

“The Vampire Doll” Michio Yamamoto‘s is a creepy movie. Just 71 minutes long, the 1970s vampire story will have you shivering to the bone. When a young gentleman named Kazuhiko Sagawa (Atsuo Nakamura) visits his fiancée, Yuko Nonomura (Yukiko Kobayashi), Yuko’s mom reveals that the woman is dead. Soon, Kazuhiko will have a shocking fate of her own. After Kazuhiko leaves without a trace, his sister, Keiko Sagawa (Kayo Matsuo), starts looking for him. She travels to the same area with her future husband Hiroshi Takagi (Akira Nakao) in tow. Keiko thinks Yuko’s mother has bad intentions.

“The Vampire Doll” provides some common haunted house themes as part of a vampire movie. The vampire looks out of the darkness with beautiful brownish-yellow eyes; their thirst is unquenchable, just as blood is almost never shown. It is not required. The film has many other terrible resources to create fear, right up to a shocking ending.

Blind Woman’s Curse (1970)

A spicy mix of exploitation, gangster and horror movie, Blind Woman’s Curse from the 70s is unforgettable for 2 factors. It’s his distinct mix of swashbuckling film genre, called chanbara in Japanese, with folklore-inspired paranormal elements. Second is the main character, Lady Snowblood, played by 1970s Japanese actress Meiko Kaji. Kaji plays the head of a warring yakuza clan, whose battle against a competing gang faces something unusual when she is cursed by a black cat who licks the blood from her opponents’ wounds.

Hausu (1977)

There is no other way to truly grasp the psychedelic meaning of Nobuhiko Obayashi‘s 1977 cult classic “Hausu”, a film full of supernatural cats, spectacular computer animation and much more.

In “Hausu”, a girl named Gorgeous takes her friends to her aunt’s house during the summer to relax in the countryside, however they don’t know that this house is haunted. Ruin awaits them. Director Obayashi is totally dedicated to the creation of this work of art that never pretends to be sober; rather, “Hausu” really leans on his exaggerated nature, including wild computer animations. “Hausu” was created with the help of Obayashi’s daughter when she was a child. It’s a heartfelt film made by a little girl about what scared her and one of the weirdest horror films of all time.

Ringu (1988)

“Ringu” is a cult Japanese horror film, and also the one that made the genre mainstream around the world. Launched in 1998 and led by Hideo Nakata, “Ringu” deals with a cursed video that eliminates those who see it after 7 days. The materials on the tape are a combination of distressing videos, ending in a scene where a girl climbs out of a well.

While exploring the tape, the journalist Reiko Asakawa takes a trip to the small island of Izu, trying to discover the beginning of the tape and also the identification of the woman in the well; Is it real or is it a trick? During his examination, those around Asakawa die a violent death after seeing the tape itself. “Ringu” is the first film ever to include the cruel spirit Sadako, who has that long, damp, black hair covering her face. This was also one of the first films to address Japan’s expanding technology, and also the fears that come with our growing reliance on technology, a very important theme in Japanese horror cinema.

Evil Dead Trap (1988)

“Evil Dead Trap” Toshiharu Ikeda‘s, written by Takashi Ishii, is an underrated film. It starts out as a regular slasher movie to become something different in the last 20 minutes. Miyuki Ono plays TV host Nami Tsuchiya, who gets a package that includes a snuff movie and decides to investigate. Nami and a group of press reporters have a strategy for identifying where the film was produced based on road signs and locations filmed. The investigation leads them to a deserted military base where Nami climbs over the rusted wire mesh fence. 

For slasher fans, “Evil Dead Trap” has all kinds of murders: strangulations, beheadings and impalements. It is also noteworthy for Ikeda’s directing work, which consists of a subjective and overexposed visual style, as well as a hypnotic scene where a flash is used to illuminate the scene. As the film progresses, the murder scenes progressively expand in a much more terrifying way, particularly during extremely ruthless sexual assault.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

This is a film for blood lovers. This is also a film for those who are followers of fear that is much less about an established history and more about an environment that puts you on the edge. Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” tells the life of an employee (Tomorowo Taguchi) whose ideas are haunted by images of his body filled with fragments of steel. These terrible ideas penetrate straight into the real world as the man’s truth becomes that of a steel fetishist, who likes to put steel directly into his skin – as if he really enjoys it, to the point where worms grow into his tainted flesh. .

While “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” is shot in black and white, which doesn’t make its visual physical violence any less terrible. The oozing blood looks like sticky oil as it gushes from open wounds, just as human flesh is associated with mechanical parts. The fascinating thing about “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” is that it is ultimately a love story between the metal and the fetishist, both of whom crave a union between flesh and cold steel.

Cure (1997)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a master of fear, who develops tales that penetrate under the skin and smolder under the ashes, obsessing you for days. His 1997 film “Cure” – one of the favorite films of “Parasite” director Bong-Joon Hoo – is an archetype, capturing a deep-seated anxiety. Kenichi Takabe (Kōji Yakusho) is an investigator who examines a series of unusual murders in which all targets are marked with a large X. Furthermore, the killers have no memory of carrying out the crimes and do not even have a real motive for the murders.

“Cure” transforms into a tense game, set in a gray story that produces a distressing atmosphere, an excellent example of Japanese horror that quickly and disturbingly combines distressing images and existential fears.

Audition (1999)

Takashi Miike paints with a bloody and terrible brush, producing many of the scariest Japanese films, from “Visitor Q” and “Ichi the Killer”. Perhaps his best work is the 1999 film “Audition”, a distressing story about the search for love and misogyny of the older Japanese generation. Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a lonely widowed film producer who lives a peaceful life. His son advises Aoyama to get married once again. To help Aoyama find love, her friend Yasuhisa Yoshikawa auditions for a fake film role; in fact, the “part” is Aoyama’s future wife.

Throughout the procedure, Aoyama ends up being kidnapped by the mysterious Asami (Eihi Shiina). As their relationship blossoms, she begins to uncover dark facts about her past. While “Audition” begins as a slow-paced drama, the film’s final act is one of the most absurd scenes seen in recent years. “Audition” also functions as the best introduction to Miike’s work, showcasing her unique directing design along with her amazing ability to develop disturbing images.

Wild Zero (1999)

As far as horror comedy is concerned, “Wild Zero” is a high-level post-apocalyptic madness. Directed by Tetsuro Takeuchi, this 1999 film follows Ace (Masashi Endō) obsessed with Guitar Wolf and his new love affair, Tobio (Kwancharu Shitichai). A meteor collision on the edge of a community called Asahi, a flock of meat eaters emerges from the wreck, and disaster breaks out.

From zombies and over-the-top makeup to a rock soundtrack, “Wild Zero” is an interesting movie. “Rock and roll never fades!” seems to be the main thesis, enriched by numerous love stories. The real garage-rock band Guitar Wolf performs a crucial function. The blood is a lot, the characters make horrible choices and even the comedy aspects are assured to generate laughter in almost any scene.

Battle Royale (2000)

The 2000 action thriller redefined an entire horror subgenre. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, “Battle Royale” (based on a 1999 story by Koushun Takami) deals with the crimes of the new generation and their growing disgust for adults, while describing millennials and the reason for the failure of culture. The film is so controversial that it didn’t see a US launch until 2012.

In the film’s history, the federal government approves the “BR ACT”, which requires school trainees averages to fight to the death in order to suppress the increase in criminal offenses. On an excursion, a group of students are supervised by a teacher, gagged and taken to a remote island. When they wake up, they discover that they have been tied up with steel collars and are forced to participate in a deadly game. They have a survival bag that contains food, water and they have to make it for 3 days: only one student will go away alive. “Battle Royale” isn’t afraid to take big risks in the main characters, and it’s not a film for any audience. More than twenty years later, it is very easy to see why it has become such an innovative film. From “The Hunger Games” to “Squid Game”, its impact is evident.

Suicide Club (2001)

In a club where people commit suicide. The film opens with a group of female students from Tokyo, each holding hands and jumping with each other on the rails as a train arrives. As bodies continue to pile up on the streets of Japan, Detective Kuroda (Ryō Ishibashi) attempts to get to the bottom of what is triggering these suicides. The answer is based on an intricate collection of ideas consisting of special tattoos and cryptic websites.

The film is based on absurd and violent images, producing a cinematic experience that captivates from start to finish. Despite Sono’s menacing playfulness, “Suicide Club” is ultimately a nihilistic and troubling film about the digital world’s results on the younger generation, whose fragile minds become easy prey for those with evil purposes.

Pulse (2001)

at the turn of the millennium, one of Japan’s most significant concerns was the growing development of the web. Kiyoshi Kurosawa talks about that social anxiety in his 2001 film “Pulse”, which has to do with a supernatural infection that leaks off the net to become a reality. 2 girls discover that something strange is happening to their closest friends, who start committing suicide after leaving baffling letters asking for help.

As their stories develop, women discover that someone has actually discovered a means to access and contaminate real life via web links. It’s like a virus that also takes over the minds of real people. And also, like any kind of infection, the pressure starts to multiply enormously, affecting an increasing number of lives every day. Kurosawa produces some extremely painful minutes, consisting of an extraordinary scene with a dancing ghost.

Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)

“Ju-on: The Grudge” Takashi Shimizu was the third film in a series of franchise films, however the initial to be released in theaters and consequently , even the initial of the films to really leave a big mark on the horror genre. When a woman named Kayako and her son are killed by her husband after discovering his extramarital affairs, they die with a grudge in their hearts. Their mania and temper spread like an infection, and they both gradually kill and torture any individual who moves into their home

Shimizu later adapted “Ju-On: The Grudge” in an English language film that includes mostly white actors, but the original is a perfect Japanese horror film that is not easily forgotten. It’s hard to overlook the boy’s death rattle, or the sound of Kayako pacing down the stairs as his joints crack and creak.

Dark Water (2002)

There is a reason why “Dark Water” really feels like it lives in the same cosmos as “Ringu”. Writer Koji Suzuki is the brilliant author behind both works. With director Hideo Nakata at the helm, the film (adapted from Suzuki’s work by Yoshihiro Nakamura and Kenichi Suzuki) shows a separated woman and her baby moving into a dilapidated apartment. In a bitter fight for protection, Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) is doing everything possible to offer Ikuko (Rio Kanno) the most dignified life possible.

Within the first couple of days, a dripping ceiling becomes a big deal. Yoshimi puts a pot on the floor. However, quickly, a dark secret is revealed involving a red fanny pack, and increases the flooding of the house. “Dark Water” is not a masterpiece, however his latest act is full of adrenaline and macabre fears.

Marebito (2004)

After directing the cult horror film Ju-On: The Grudge, director Takashi Shimizu launched “Marebito”, a story about an anxious man who becomes obsessed with recording video around after seeing a strange man. Through his video camera, man wants to better understand death. In his mission, the main character takes a trip to a strange place in Tokyo, equipped only with his camera. As he ventures into this unusual place, he meets a girl chained to the surface of a wall, which he decides to take to his home. As he spends more time with this woman, he realizes that he won’t eat, drink, and talk – yes, we’re wandering into vampire territory.

As he remains to take care of the unknown person, the man’s life becomes more and more complicated, and he also recognizes that he has brought something to the surface that should have been left where it was. “Marebito” takes many ideas from the works of HP Lovecraft, having fun with chaos and fear as a universal feeling.

Noroi: The Curse (2005)

A horror film is scary when it is able to position the viewer in the shoes of the characters using a first-person point of view. Director Kōji Shiraishi takes this concept to another level with his 2005 film, “Noroi: The Curse”. The film is shot as a docudrama by paranormal scientist and reporter Masafumi Kobayashi (Jin Muraki), who is famous for his publications, docudrams, and television programs covering macabre situations throughout Japan. In this docu-drama, Kobayashi begins to explore mysterious audio recordings of sobbing babies, however the film quickly begins to tell something much scarier.

This is not an ordinary horror film, full of unstable shots and weed woods, but it is a pseudo-documentary that plays with the facts that happen. “Noroi: The Curse” is not just a creative example of Japanese horror, but of Japanese cinema whole.

Noriko’s Dinner Table (2005)

“Noriko’s Dinner Table” is a legendary 159-minute poetic horror film. The film, written and directed by Sion Sono, is similar to the 2002 “Suicide Club” and plunges into the psychology of human need, despair and misunderstanding. Noriko (Kazue Fukiishi) longs to feel like moving to Tokyo, because she is aimless in her life. Her demanding dad wants her to enroll in a regional university in her province, however she has her sights set on Tokyo, where, according to her dad, she shouldn’t go.

During a late night power outage, Noriko grabs her bags and heads to the big city. There, he befriends Ueno54 (Tsugumi) online, who introduces Noriko to IC Corp, a company that rents individuals who claim to be family members of their clients. Living bogus lives according to the wishes of several clients, Noriko discovers the truth about herself. The film is as much about the dark underbelly of the city as it is about Noriko’s self-realization and also understanding her identity. As the secrets gradually emerge, you will be mesmerized by Fukiishi’s character.

Confessions (2009)

It is difficult to open a horror film with a 20 minute speech.’s “Confessions,” Tetsuya Nakashima based on the 2008 short story by writer Kanae Minato, begins with an emotionally intense and brilliant performance by Takako Matsu as a secondary school educator named Yuko Moriguchi. Her speech tells about her background and the death of her little girl due to 2 schoolmates. The plots spin like a barbed wire gradually piercing the tale until they attract huge amounts of blood.

“Confessions” is an overflowing film that raises many ethical concerns: revenge is a meal best eaten cold, yet Yuko demands that his be hot. The story quickly degenerates into a lesson in revenge, the creation of a true psychopathic character, whose malevolence is motivated by a deep need to be seen and heard.

Cold Fish (2010)

In the 2010 film “Cold Fish”, director Sion Sono, who wrote the screenplay with Yoshiki Takahashi, freely delves deep into the real-life fears of 2 serial killer, Sekine Gen and Hiroko Kazama. What begins as an intimate, low-scale drama quickly degenerates into a grimy, hard-to-bear depiction of humanity’s licentiousness. Shamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) is terribly unhappy in her marital relationship with her second Taeko partner (Megumi Kagurazaka), so she finds great joy when fish shopkeeper Murata (Denden) reveals her love for him.

Trapped in passion, Murata hires Shamoto to kill. Quickly, their collaboration ends up being twisted beyond belief. “Cold Fish” is really full of blood. The real theme is to make a murder that throws the killer into a limitless and merciless puzzle of physical violence so insane you won’t quickly forget it.

Hundreds of movies and documentaries selected without limits

New movies every week. Watch on any device, without any ads. Cancel at any time.
error: Content is protected !!

Hundreds of movies and documentaries selected without limits

New movies every week. Watch on any device, without any ads. Cancel at any time.