japanese horror

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Kenji Mizoguchi has frequently been grouped alongside Kurosawa and Ozu as one of Japanese cinema’s premiere auteurs. His films are often noted for their eloquent long-take tracking shots, social realist subject matters and their sincere yet brutally honest portrayals of women and the socio-cultural forces of repression that they encounter. Though Mizoguchi had a long career making studio silent films many film critics regard the films he made in the 1950s as his paramount achievements.

I’m not going to pretend I know anything about contemporary Japanese splatter or J-splotation films; a term I am assuming is only used outside Japan. I’ve seen “Versus” on one of those late night video store runs back when video stores were actually a thriving business. Ya, whippersnappers. Takashi Miike’s “Audition” is one of my favorite horror films period. I would have to hand in my film geek card if I hadn’t encountered “Battle Royale” at some point or another.

J-Horror is pretty well beaten into the ground by this point. With films like “Ringu”, “Ju-On” and “The Eye” spurring American remakes, sequels, sequels to the American remakes and blatant rip-offs, the genre is pretty much dead. Personally, I know if I have to review another film with that wet ghost girl with stringy hair I might just swear off horror films forever. But J-Horror wasn’t always about cell phones, video tapes or that goddamn ghost girl. There was a period of time when Japanese horror was something else entirely.

Enough. No more ripoffs of “The Ring”. I know horror is a super-cyclical genre and that success begets imitation, but “The Ring” is thirteen years old. There is absolutely nothing new or original that can be done with that template. No more snowy TVs (seriously, do TVs even do that anymore?). No more creepy ghost girls with hair covering their face. No more cursed videotapes (or internet videos, or text messages, or voicemails or telegrams). It’s all been beaten into the ground at least ten times over.

I had a pretty scary roommate once. Guy had a tendency to lock himself in his room and watch conspiracy theory videos he downloaded off of the internet for hours on end. He duct taped newspaper over his bedroom windows. There were two separate occasions where he broke down laughing uncontrollably in the shower. He played “DOOM” almost every waking hour. Oh, and he also loved Alanis Morrissette. Like I said, creepy dude. And unfortunately for the filmmakers behind 2010’s import horror flick, “The Roommate”, he was way creepier than anything in this film.

The Japanese Master of Horror, Takashi Shimizu, is at it again. The man who brought you the Ju-on (The Grudge) franchise returns with Japanese Horror's first ever live action 3D movie, and the first Japanese movie shot in HD digital 3D.

If you watch a lot of horror movies (and if you’re reading this, of course you do) then you’re probably aware that the majority of films made in our beloved genre are utter, irredeemable crap. That’s the nature of the genre. Horror is the refuge of first-time filmmakers with little to no idea as to how to make a movie as well as major studios who want big returns on a relatively small investment. I’m not normally a big fan of “so bad they’re good” movies – the older I get, the more accurate this Onion headline becomes. When I’d only seen a handful of campy, bad movies they seemed like fun. After 20 years of being an avid horror fan I’d much rather watch something that I actually enjoy.

Ever wonder what Billy Joel’s 1982 video for the song “Pressure” would look like if it was remade today by Japanese director Hitoshi Matsumoto? I know, me too!

I remember reporting on the development of this film a while back, called "Oneechanbara Vortex". The movie is based on a Japanese videogame property that was originally for the PS2, and eventually ported over to the XBOX360 and the Wii.