j-horror

In Japan, scary stories are commonly told in the summer to beat the sweltering heat by cooling off from the chills a story gives you. Although we’re quickly approaching autumn, do yourself a favor and put these J-horror gems in your Netflix queue to beat the heat before our own season of chills arrives.

While not rare or hidden, these films are interesting and mesmerizing Japanese horror flicks that you’ll want to watch at least once (and maybe twice to get over the prevalent surprise endings common in J-horror). As of now you can get them from Netflix so why not take a peek?

7. Sadako (Sadako 3D)

Sadako

If you think of J-horror leading ladies you’ll likely either think of Kayako Saeki from The Grudge or Sadako Yamamura from The Ring. The long-haired girl with a bone to pick with humanity and a thing for crawling out of T.V.s who has been long since dormant has come back into theaters. While franchise reboots is nothing new, this one is a strange addition with a slower build up and some very strange scenes with bizarre creatures you may not expect from the Ringu series.  The film was originally made as a 3D film for the series and it’s not the most interesting film on the list but it is a strange direction for the series and can be streamed on Netflix, so if you’ve liked the series before, there’s no reason not to give it a try. The only downside is you can’t enjoy it like certain lucky viewers did in Japan, having a real person crawling around in theaters to add a 4D effect to the 3D movie.

6. Tale of Terrors From Tokyo

TalesofTerror

Netflix actually has a number of different volumes of this series but any of them you get should be worth your time. Horror anthologies aren’t the most common films but when shorts are done right a five minute scene can bring up childhood terrors and leave you wanting more. With a wide mix of stories supposedly heard from people’s own experiences (adding extra “chill” factor like all good urban legends should) ranging from a woman unknowingly sitting in a room full of ghosts to possession and violent visitors. Many stories have a tense ending that encapsulate why many people love watching horror movies. Normal, average people encounter the stranger side of life and death: the perfect set of stories to keep you freaked out when you hear a strange noise in the dead of night.

5. Reincarnation [Rinne]

Reincarnation

I won’t spoil it for you, but this movie has a true downer of an ending. The first time I saw it I was angry at how it ended, but it is well made and works great as a horror story with lingering spirits seeking vengeance against past wrongdoings. The film is about a young actress playing the role of a victim of a real life massacre. The film is being made at the site of the massacre and, as one would expect, this awakens the spirits of the victims and creates chaos on the set as past lives butt heads with the present. It’s a solid J-horror film and one that should get more attention. It is part of a J-Horror Theater series which includes other great films, many of which are also on Netflix (and one of which is also listed here).

4. House (1977)

House

Okay, so this movie is a massive departure from most stereotypical J-horror films, but that’s what makes it so great. A movie that screams that it’s a cheesy film from the 70s with quirky music and odd special effects, it features a group of girls who go into an eerie house and begin to get killed by it in truly bizarre ways. Though strange and cheesy, the film is fun to watch and even features a hungry piano (bringing back some of the nightmares from Super Mario 64). If you want a J-horror that has more style than dread then this film is a definite watch.

3. Kwaidan

Kwaidan

Kwaidan, in the old spelling, means something like “scary story” and this film features some of the most famous Japanese tales out there. The film is a classic itself and, similar to House, should be viewed to get an appreciation of all that J-horror can be. The classic tales involve the visiting spirits of a famous clan whose presence spell danger for a monk, a meeting of a strange woman in a snow-covered area, a tale of a sad homecoming, and more. Each tale directed masterfully, it makes a film viewers should watch to understand the underlying roots of both Japanese horror films and long-lasting scary stories and why both have stood the test of time.

2. Infection (Kansen)

Infection

Another film in the J-Horror Theater series, this film has twists and turns that will keep viewers interested as doctors begin to go mad as an infection spreads throughout a hospital. This film is definitely more psychological than supernatural and has a great lot to think about as you watch and rewatch to try and figure out what is really happening. The tension is well crafted and it is a great horror movie that has been off the radar of too many lists thus far.

1. Uzumaki

uzumaki

This film is at the top because of just how different it is from your typical J-horror film, not to mention how beautifully the scenes are created and how bizarre the production is. Adapted from a manga made by horror author Junji Ito, it is about a town in which a boy is obsessed with spirals and in which spirals begin transforming and twisting everything into a whirlpool-like shape. As the strange film goes on, deaths and unusual metamorphoses change the town’s canvas until the film’s bleak ending. An intriguingly directed and written film, it is not as horrific as other films on this list, but it has a sense of unease that makes it a great film to watch.

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