General J-Horror Thread

For the discussion of non-Toho monster media, tokusatsu franchises, and also for mixed discussion of Toho and non-Toho kaiju media.
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H-Man
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Re: General J-Horror Thread

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Jigoku (1960, dir: Nobuo Nakagawa) - Infamous Japanese horror film depicting the Buddhist Hell. The first two thirds is this really weird soap opera: Shiro Shimizu is a young man with a promising career as a scholar and who has just gotten engaged to Kyuhiko, the daughter of one of his professors. Unfortunately, he has a dark secret: he was involved in a hit-and-run (his "friend", Tamura, was driving) and Tamura seems to show up out of nowhere every time Shiro tries to turn himself in to the police. Meanwhile, the victim, a Yakuza leader, has a vengeful mother and his moll on Shiro's tail. The second act gets even more brazen, as Shiro goes to the countryside to visit his dying mother. His dad runs a 1960s Japanese equivalent of a retirement home, which is staffed and frequented by some of the worst people in existence. It looks like there are a lot of people who will have reservation in Hell.

That's where the last third comes in. We get a vision of Hell, which is pretty much as you might expect: people are mutilated, sawn asunder, flayed alive, and then put back together so they can go through it again. Some souls are forced to drink from pools of pus and bodily fluids while others are consigned to crawl across deserts where pools of water disappear once they come in reach. The movie ends ambiguously, with a smidgen of hope for a couple of characters. Come for stylish depiction of the suffering of the damned, stay for totally warped soap opera.

Black Cat Mansion (1958, dir: Nobuo Nakagawa) - Produced by Shintoho. In a premise similar to My Neighbor Totoro, a doctor moves out of Tokyo with his sick wife to the countryside of Kyushu so she can get away from the smog of the city and breathe some fresh air. And the mansion that they buy to change into his new clinic just happens to be haunted...or so the locals believe. Then an old lady whom only the wife can see starts stalking the place and attacking her. The rational-thinking husband finally visits the priest to learn the history of the place. Notable for having one of the earliest examples of the Spring-Loaded Cat. I like how the framing story is in black and white, but the flashback sequence is in color. There are elements to the story which would later find their way into contemporary J-Horror flicks like Ringu and Ju-On: The Grudge.

The Snow Woman (1968, dir: Tokuzo Tanaka) - Produced by Daiei. Two woodcarvers--an old master and his apprentice--are in the forest one winter afternoon looking for the perfect tree to use in a sculpture of a goddess for their village's temple. Later that evening, an intense snow storm forces them to find refuge in a nearby barn. That night, they are visited by the legendary Snow Witch. She freezes the barn and kills the old man, but allows his apprentice, Yosuko, to live on account of his youth and handsome features. The catch is that he must swear to never reveal to anyone that he met her. The same story had also been told in the critically-acclaimed Kwaidan (1964), which was based on the works of Lafcadio Hearn, who spent the last 14 years of his life living in Japan and compiling folklore stories. This story is also the basis of the gargoyle segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990). Music by Akira Ifukube.

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Re: General J-Horror Thread

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Those are all great choices! Nobuo Nakagawa is pretty underappreciated amongst genre fans. I take it you've seen his version of Ghost of Yotsuya/Yotsuya Kaidan? There are countless adaptations, but his is still widely regarded as the finest. Lady Vampire is a lot different from his other stuff, but is a pretty wild flick well worth your time.

I quite liked Daiei's Snow Woman, albeit the quality of my copy is piss-poor. Here's hoping Arrow puts it out on Blu in the future.
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Re: General J-Horror Thread

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MaxRebo320 wrote: Fri Oct 22, 2021 11:10 am Those are all great choices! Nobuo Nakagawa is pretty underappreciated amongst genre fans. I take it you've seen his version of Ghost of Yotsuya/Yotsuya Kaidan? There are countless adaptations, but his is still widely regarded as the finest. Lady Vampire is a lot different from his other stuff, but is a pretty wild flick well worth your time.

I quite liked Daiei's Snow Woman, albeit the quality of my copy is piss-poor. Here's hoping Arrow puts it out on Blu in the future.
I've long been ignorant of J-Horror on the whole, even though I've been a Godzilla fan for more than 30 years. I've mainly started investigating the genre in the past year, starting with whatever I can find on Youtube--in Brazil, only a handful of films have gotten a legitimate release and importing has become extremely expensive. I'll be on the lookout for Ghost of Yotsuya.

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Re: General J-Horror Thread

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Just got done with The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch . Noriaki Yuasa's imagination didn't disappoint, and the synopsis didn't exaggerate; this may have been a movie intended for kids, but it probably scarred a lot of them for life. :lol:
Spoiler:
Like, seriously, what the hell? Tamami wanting to eat her sister's hands, toads getting ripped in half, snakes getting thrown in vats of acid, kindly nuns getting knifed, Ms. Shige bashing Sayuri's bleeding fingers with a huge wooden post. Bunch of depraved stuff in this movie. So it was right in line with the Gamera series, pretty much. It really is a shame that Yuasa never directed anything else, because he had a really unique demented-yet-wholesome style to his films that I'd love to see more of.

Sayuri was a little bit of a mixed bag as a protagonist. She was generally likable and easy to root for, but was a little too calm and emotionless (mostly) to really be believable. Her bravery and determination were fine, but a little more visible fear would've helped sell the horror of her situation and make her look that much more heroic for forging through it.

Tamami's actress did a great job, though. She simultaneously played bullying older sister, bizarre monster, and desperate little girl with a tragic backstory, and managed to make them all work. She made for a very effective villain.

And I loved the low-budget effects. Halloween decoration-level spiders and snakes are always fun, and the random Tamami marionette in the dream sequences was a great balance between goofy and legitimately disturbing. :lol:
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Re: General J-Horror Thread

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Shrill Cries of Summer (2008) - aka When They Cry - Japanese title: Higurashi no naku koro ni - Live-action adaptation of the 2006 anime series "When They Cry", which itself is based on a popular series of visual novels in Japan. The premise is that there's a small village somewhere in Japan known as Hinamizawa, which in the late 70s was the site for the construction of the dam. The villagers revolted and, after the kidnapping of a government official's grandson, construction was halted and ultimately cancelled. Starting in 1979, every year at the village's annual Cotton Drifting Festival, a murder (or two) occcurs, with the victim being someone associated with the dam project. The story proper starts in the summer of 1983, with the arrival of a teenager named Maebara Keiichi in the village. The general premise is that while the backstory is more or less fixed, Keiichi's story is highly variable according to the player's decisions.

This film follows the first arc of the anime. Keiichi arrives in Hinamizawa and befriends a group of girls at the local school--there are only 15 kids in the village, so they all share the same classroom. There's Sonozaki Mion, the oldest of the bunch; Ryûgu Rena, who's Keiichi's age; and a pair of 13-year-olds, Hôjo Satoko and Furude Rika. Rika stands out in that she's the miko, or priestess, of the village. Keiichi learns about the village's religious beliefs, which revolve around a guardian deity named Oyashiro-sama. He also picks up hints of the village's dark history, which his friends are loathe to discuss whenever he brings them up. So what happens when Keiichi breaks the village's taboo and enters Oyashiro-sama's tool shrine during the Cotton Drifting Festival?

On one hand, I can understand them wanting adapt the first arc, as it's the most self-contained of the anime (I've seen so far) and the most overtly supernatural. That way, the characters' motivations as the mystery gains in intensity can easily be explained by "supernatural stuff is afoot." But some details included go completely unexplained, so that viewers unfamiliar with the source material will undoubtedly be scratching their heads (i.e. What's with the mysterious guys in the van?). And despite running almost 30 minutes longer than the same story in the anime version, a few scenes (like the cryptic apology scene) aren't even included. The film is unsettling, to be sure, and has some of the most squirm-inducing examples of neck violence that I've seen in a long time (I hate neck violence). But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't watched the anime yet.

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Re: General J-Horror Thread

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Shrill Cries: Reshuffle (2009)aka When the Cry: Reshuffle - Japanese Title: Higurashi no naku koro ni: Chikai - This sequel to the 2008 film also follows the 2006 anime series, this time focusing on the show's sixth arc, "Atonement." This arc focuses on the character of Ryûgû Rena (Airi Matsuyama), who has a myriad of problems. Her backstory is that she was born in the mysterious village of Hinamizawa and then moved to another town. She had a violent psychotic episode at her high school after her mom revealed to her that she was leaving her dad after getting pregnant by a lover. The guardian deity of Hinamizawa, Oyashira-sama, convinced her to return to the village with her dad. Now, her suppressed psychotic tendencies are forced to the surface when she discovers that her dad's new girlfriend, Ritsuko (Miho Yabe), is a gold-digging whore and extortionist. Murder is soon afoot, and Rena's growing paranoia soon reaches epic proportions. Meanwhile, Maebura Keiichi (Gôki Maeda) is starting to have flashbacks to his actions from alternate universes (i.e. the first film).

This film more or less follows the anime arc to the letter, albeit with a much darker ending and a few references to the anime's third arc, too. I do think that the anime handled the subplot involving Keiichi's "memories" better than this movie did. The biggest difference is how the subplot involving Takano-san's scrapbook is handled. In the anime, Takano's conclusions about Oyashira-sama's curse offered a (relatively) realistic explanation for what we took be the supernatural explanation for the events of the first arc. It ultimately sought to turn the first arc on its head and refute our initial conclusions.

In this movie, however, Takano's theory is brought up, although given less attention than it was in the anime. However, the characters immediately argue that it's nothing but a crackpot idea. It's an ambiguous treatment of the material, as the explanation goes from "supernatural conspiracy theory" to "medical horror" to your more old-fashioned "paranoid psychosis." But then, that doesn't really explain the other mysterious deaths. So in that case, I prefer the anime to this film.

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Re: General J-Horror Thread

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Ashura (2005) - original title: Ashura-jô no hitomi - It's almost fitting that I watched this after I watched Demon Slayer the Movie, as this movie does revolve around a similar premise: in the Edo period, the Capital is infested with demons. There is a corps of sword-wielding warriors known as the Demon Wardens whose job is to exterminate them. One of them, Izumo (Somegoro Ichikawa, who played the same role in the 2015 adaptation of the same material), retires from the force after a traumatic incident during araid. Izumo becomes a popular Kabuki actor, whose writer, Naboku Tsuruya IV (Fumiyo Kohinata, Dark Water and Beyond Outrage), is desperate for some new inspiration. Izumo meets a travelling acrobat, Tsubaki (Rie Miyazawa, of The Twilight Samurai). Tsubaki is destined to be the vessel through which the demon queen, Ashura, is reborn. Izumo falls for Tsubaki as he tries to protect her from the machinations of the evil nun Bizan (Casshern's Kanako Higuchi) and her lover, former demon slayer Jaku (TV actor Atsuro Watabe).

The film is based off of a play, although I don't know if its a modern play or a kabuki play. The film is mainly a love story, which permeates the proceedings right up to the final sword fight and its conclusion. The demons are very similar to those in "Demon Slayer," in which they look like normal humans until it's time to feast on blood. In this case, they have neon green eyes and green CGI blood. There is a fair amount of action in the film, although it's choreographed more like a traditional chanbara film than in Hong Kong style, as many of its contemporaries (like Death Trance) were. The climax has our hero fighting of scores of ogres in an upside-down castle, with the camera moving in vertical circles around our hero, followed by a series of one-on-one duels. There are some good sets and costumes, plus lots of of Godzilla-style miniatures during the destruction of Edo sequence. With the exception to some just-ok CGI, the film looks pretty good.

Rie Miyazawa is very cute; she looks like a Japanese Michelle Yeoh from some angles. Apparently, she was a girl-next-door actress until she did a film called Erotic Liaisons and released a nude photo book, which was hugely successful. She had some personal problems in the late 90s and dated a Sumo wrestler, but was able to put her career back together in the 2000s. Somegoro Ichikawa makes for a convincing romantic hero, with a dollop of playful arrogance to complement his sword-fighting scenes. I guess that makes sense, as he was also in The Samurai I Loved.

Strangest thing about the movie: a cover of "My Funny Valentine" sung by Sting(!) plays over the closing credits.

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