Everyone has likely seen, or heard of the big name Japanese horror movies. Movies like Ringu, Ju-On (The Grudge), Chakushin ari (One Missed Call) and Kairo (Pulse) have all had American remakes and likely reside in any horror aficionado’s library.
Not every good story can make its way over to the states, however. With the upcoming release of Sadako 3D (sequel to Ringu), Japanverse wanted to list 10 (in no particular order) good Japanese horror movies that many might not be familiar with.
Movies that either flew under the radar, or have been overlooked.
Below is our listing of overlooked or under-appreciated Japanese horror flicks. Some may be harder to find, but (we hope) it will be worth it.
Fu-Rai (White Panic)
One day, four young people – three men and one woman – wake up in the morning and find themselves locked in a small room filled with a white powder and completely naked. Why they are gathered here? What is this room meant to be? Who brought them into this room? More importantly, how can they get out of this room?
It’s incredibly hard to say much more about this movie without massively spoiling it. So we won’t.
Tales of Terror From Japan: Four Roads To Hell
At midnight… Don’t work overnight at the office! Don’t stay alone in hotel room! Don’t use the elevator! Don’t look into the mirror! Don’t bother the conversation next door! Don’t go alone to underground garage! Don’t let unknown person to get on your car! Don’t play jokes on or bet with your dead relatives! If you do, the road to hell will open for you…
This movie is a bit like Creepshow, in that it tells 4 short horror stories with twists at the end. The stories are largely based on urban legends which many may find satisfyingly original if they’re not familiar with Japanese culture.
Noroi – The Curse
A small town is slated for destruction and relocation to make way for construction on a dam. Its inhabitants perform their mysterious demon ritual for the last time, but something goes terribly wrong. A few years later, a TV journalist with a fascination for documenting the paranormal, receives a letter from a woman describing strange noises coming from her neighbor’s house. He decides to introduce himself to the neighbor, Junko Ishi, the last woman to take part in the demon ritual…
This story is told documentary style and is a type of ‘found footage’ movie. A great watch if you’re a fan of those types of films. It doesn’t disappoint.
Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night
Uneasy by certain events following his sisters return from America, Koichi persuades his sister to set up a video camera in her room. The video camera is connected to a computer so he can see what is going on and, if necessary, come to his sister’s aid. What Koichi discovers is beyond anything he could have imagined. Evil sounding noises at midnight, glasses on tables breaking with no one around, even a close friend, known for never faltering, becomes absolutely terrified. The situation worsens with the family being directly threatened. Eventually, a terrible fact is revealed…
This movie is done in the same vein as the Paranormal Activity movies in the US. If you were entertained by those movies, this movie is more of the same (albeit good or bad, depending on taste). I thought the acting was fairly well done despite the lack of originality in the plot.
Brought to you by the guy who directed Machine Girl and RoboGeisha, Tomie Unlimited tells the story of a malicious entity/ghost/demon in the form of a seductive high school girl, named Tomie.
Rather than condense our original review of this movie, why not check out our full review of Tomie: Unlimited.
Shibuya Kaidan (The Locker)
‘The Locker’ is based on a Japanese urban legend which claims that somewhere in Shibuya (an area of Tokyo where teens and college kids hang out), there is a coin-operated locker that gives you good luck if you use it while confessing your true love. This legend has been twisted and 6 college kids will soon learn the deadly secrets and truth behind Locker #0009.
This is a somewhat predictable movie but the urban legend is unique which makes its predictability less of an issue. If you end up liking this movie, check out its sequel. Aptly titled, ‘The Locker 2′.
Two thugs kidnap a little girl in the hopes of collecting a huge ransom. Their risky plan takes a crazy turn when the parents of the girl claim that she has been dead a year to the day. Attempting to figure out what to do next while holed up in an abandoned school building, odd and violent things begin to happen as one of the criminals become increasingly mesmerized by the seemingly innocuous little girl.
Another original movie thanks to differences in culture and story telling. While it definitely has a B-movie vibe at first, its entertaining moments and interesting plot will quickly erase that feeling. Certainly worth a watch for horror fans who have grown bored of the usual.
Many years ago, a number of brutal murders took place in a family owned hotel. Some years later, a horror movie director decides to do a movie about the massacre. As he starts the production, a young actress hired to star as the lead actress becomes haunted by the souls of the massacre victims.
This movie is more of a thriller than a horror. Though, thanks to the supernatural elements, it still qualifies as a horror. It’s a well done movie regardless of its dual-genre nature.
Carved – The Slit-Mouthed Woman
Thirty years ago, legends claim that a suburban town was terrorized by the spirit of a woman whose beautiful face had been grotesquely disfigured by her jealous husband. Roaming the streets wearing a surgical mask and a long overcoat, her ghost would approach young victims and, while removing her mask, ask “Am I pretty?” The person’s response would always lead to their brutal death. Now, one by one, kids are again disappearing. As teachers and the police desperately begin to investigate, a panic begins to build as the woman’s spirit returns for some unfinished business.
This movie is a typical stalk ‘em & slash ‘em type horror film. Don’t let that put you off though. While the premise isn’t original, the story and plot is. It’s based on another popular Japanese urban legend/folk tale.
Kowai Onna (Unholy Woman)
Kowai Onna is a compilation of 3 separate short horror stories written and directed by 3 different directors. ‘Rattle Rattle’ is directed by Keita Amemiya, ‘Hagane’ is directed by Takuji Suzuki, and ‘The Inheritance’ is directed by Keisuke Toyoshima.
This is probably one of best anthologies we’ve seen come out of Japan in the last 6 or 7 years. The stories presented in this collection are completely original, and the acting is remarkably well done.