The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:
Japanese Horror Films

Horror genre movies from Japan can be truly frightening, pure cheese or even downright wrong. Titles that have attracted considerable attention such as "Ring", "Pulse" and "Uzumaki" are horror films that do not rely on common scare tactics to get an audience. They are what my friend Mike Faschan calls "Type B" horror films. The viewer is alienated and does not know quite what is happening. A sense of insecurity sets in and instead of being shocked or jolted, an eerie feeling of uncertainty wavers over viewer. These types of horror movies are very popular today in Japan and South Korea. It seems the two countries are remaking each other's films at a steady pace these days.

"Type A" horror films fall into the category of a Jason of Freddy picture where the viewer is either spooked or grossed out by violence. Japan has its share of films like these such as Battle Royale but the vast majority of "Type A" Japanese horror movies are very low-budget and are even more campy than American teenie-bopper horror flicks. VERSUS is probablly a horror film, but I can't really tell to be honest with you. It has yakuza, sword-fighting and zombies being blown apart. One thing for certain is that it is the cheesiest film I have ever seen.

And finally the ugly. The infamous child molester/murderer Tsutomu Miyazaki was obsessed with Japanese gore films that portrayed realistic violence that were in many ways almost too real. The scenes depicted in such movies were usually horrible acts of mutilation carried out on helpless females. Perhaps because of the association with Miyazaki, these films are not as common today as they were in the 1980's and early 1990's. These films are an expression of desire to inflict pain and suffering. I have not seen a complete one and I do not plan to start watching them for review here.

Titles Reviewed

TitleRelease Date Director
Battle Royale
Kinji Fukasaku
Chakushin Ari
Takashi Miike