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Top 10 J Horror Films

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Craig Butler Have you seen this cursed videotape? You better watch it quick; you’ve only got 7 days… Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 J-Horror Films. For this list, we're ranking films categorized under the horror genre that are produced in Japan and have excluded their westernized counterparts. Special thanks to our user tre merry for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Trent Lee

Top 10 J Horror Films


Have you seen this cursed videotape? You better watch it quick; you’ve only got 7 days… Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 J-Horror Films.

For this list, we ranking films categorized under the horror genre that are produced in Japan and have excluded their westernized counterparts.

#10: “House” [aka “Hausu”] (1977)

In this Nobuhiko Obayashi -directed flick, a group of Japanese schoolgirls go on a summer retreat in the countryside to visit one of the girl’s aunties. What they find instead is that auntie’s dead, the house’s possessed and it’s devouring its guests in the most bizarre and gruesome ways. The expression ‘safe as houses’ has no bearing here; as one by one the girls are attacked by mattresses, gobbled up by pianos, and more. A surreal seventies experimental psychedelic horror film, “House” is an unexplainable masterpiece; you just have to watch it to get it.

#9: “Kwaidan” (1964)

A classic anthology flick based on four terrifying Japanese folk tales with otherworldly themes, “Kwaidan” takes horror to an artistic plateau. With its slow, silent sequences, the Masaki Kobayashi-directed movie emits a ghastly atmosphere of dread and a sense of imminent doom. Its eerie, minimal soundtrack is unsettling, while its visual sets are hauntingly beautiful - the stalking eyes seen in the heavens in the tale of “The Woman of the Snow” alone are bone-chillingly unforgettable. With its ghost stories of restless and malicious spirits, “Kwaidan” is an apprehensive psychological trip into the abyss of madness and horror.

#8: “Ichi the Killer” (2001)

Directed by Takashi Miike, this crime drama is a masterpiece of Japanese sadomasochist shock cinema, yakuza, samurai and horror. In it, Ichi is the S&M anti-hero who takes pleasure in the voyeuristic fetish of masturbating as victims are raped, while enforcer Kakihara is on a quest for a missing yakuza lord that crosses the titular killer’s path. Despite its graphic violence and controversial nature, there’s no denying that the final showdown between an unstoppable force of violence and an insatiable psychotic fiend of pain is something you won’t soon forget.

#7: “Pulse” [aka “Kairo”] (2001)

Based on a Japanese novel, this flick follows Japanese university students investigating a string of mass deaths after one of their friends commits suicide. This is somehow linked to a web cam site that allows them to communicate with the dead. Naturally, young people begin to see apparitions on their cellphones, computers, and in their homes. A philosophical dystopian vision of the modern era, “Pulse” treats ghosts as a metaphor for the Internet’s interconnectivity and isolation. Meanwhile, the online world is our graveyard, sucking away souls into the other world, cyberspace. Not too far from the truth - or is it? You decide.

#6: “Suicide Club” [aka “Suicide Circle”] (2002)

You know a film isn’t about to mess around when it opens with 54 Japanese schoolgirls jumping in front of a train. With so much blood, guts and bones grinding under the wheels that the train is jammed in its tracks, how does a director fill in the next hour and a half? Indeed, audiences can expect one hell of a crime mystery with this indie horror flick, as Detective Kuroda pieces together a deadly chain behind a string of suicides that eventually end up being connected to… a Japanese glam-rock band? With all those eager teens sticking their heads into ovens, mass jumping off buildings and stuffing their faces with pills, “Suicide Club” will leave you dying for more.

#5: “One Missed Call” (2003)

Imagine getting a voicemail message on your phone that’s in your voice from your own phone number with the precise time and date of your future violent death? In “One Missed Call,” this curse cycles through each victim’s phone book and spreads it until the last mortal coil’s been disconnected from this world. In the wicked spirit of “Ring” and “Ju-On", this Takashi Miike-directed flick perpetuates the chain letter ghost curse format into today’s modern cellphone culture and even spawned a 2005 sequel.

#4: “Audition” (1999)

This psychological horror-drama sees a film producer friend try an unorthodox approach to help his widowed friend find his ideal next wife under the guise of a bogus casting audition. But when Shigeharu Aoyama actually meets his dream woman, we learn it’s actually she who’s truly disguised with a far more sinister plan. Indeed, the woman soon turns into his absolute worst nightmare. Not for the faint of heart, this black widow will eat your heart out, and then probably have your feet for dessert.

#3: “Dark Water” (2002)

Based on a short story by Koji Suzuki, this J-horror follows single mother Yoshimi and her 6 year-old daughter as they witness the appearance of strange omens after moving into an apartment building. These include growing black water stains on the walls, long black hair in the building’s tap water, the repeated appearance of a red bag with a bunny on it and a mysterious little girl. The answers flow back to the building’s water and its dark past. Worse is whatever dark tides are at work are also being drawn to her daughter. From the writer and director of “Ring,” watching “Dark Water” is like water torture: it’s a slow and unhinging psychological terror. And yet we can’t help but stay glued till the end.

#2: “Ju-On: The Grudge” (2002)

In a house around the corner, two evil spirits lurk. They belong to Kayako and her son Toshio, who were violently murdered by her husband. The grudging ghosts will curse and follow anyone who dares to enter the home until they’ve dragged the poor people into their graves. “Ju-On” is a psychological rollercoaster of creepy concept scenes, and one that will convince you to never have kids... It spawned a sequel that was released the next year and was also directed by Takashi Shimizu.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” (1989)
- “Carved” (2007)
- “Marebito” (2004)
- “Infection” (2004)

#1: “Ring” (1998)

Have you watched the cursed videotape? In this thriller, a mysterious videotape circulates Japan and kills anyone who’s seen it. What’s on the tape? Surreal scenes and unsettling images, including the long and iconic scene of the dark well. Unless the source of the videotape is found and the mystery is resolved, its curse will continue to be fulfilled - and the last thing victims will see is the face of an evil, mysterious girl with long black hair. “Ring,” or “Ringu” as it’s also called, reignited the horror genre and helped to bring Japanese horror to western audiences. Along with its sequel “Ring 2,” the critically acclaimed “Ring” instigated a whole slew of western remakes and was Japan’s most financially successful horror flick at the time.

Do you agree with our list? Which J-horror should belong on our list for more terrifying Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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