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GordonCole

Japanese Horror

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It was exciting to see last night on TCM the heralded Japanese horror film called Jikogu [aka Hell or Sinners from Hell] from 1960 by famed director, Nobuo Nakagama. This seminal work contains incredibly innovative use of color and framing techniques pioneered by this director with blocked off scenes using black in a sort of Mondrian-esque style. Very revolutionary at the time with poetic images detailing Nakagama's moral philosophy that is often an alien concept to horror flicks. Set in a time period similar to Dante's Inferno style theatrics, the after effects on two theological students due to their involvement in a manslaughter case, rolls along while evolving in a frightening karmic conclusion. Even the beginning credits of the movie evoke a lurid representation of all moral and human vicissitudes of life, in an previously unseen avant garde style particularly for horror films and even mainstream ones of the time. The abstract and illusory settings for Jikogu were designed by Harayasu Kurosawa and add to the tempestuous and frightening aspects of the story. Not known so much outside Japan this movie has recently been available for international audiences who revel in its amazing ahead of its time look and message and it is mandatory viewing for any fan of world horror cinema in my opinion.

The second film shown was actually a previous work to the above film, but also by Nakagama from 1959, called Tokaido Yotsuya [aka The Ghost of Yotsuya] taken from a 19th century Kabuki tale in which an errant samurai kills another in order to marry his unknowing daughter, then promises her he will avenge said murder. Startling scenes of poisoned corpses in swamps and the ghostly hauntings of replicants of the slaughtered create a ghastly atmosphere of fear and horror. In the tradition of Japanese standards the apparitions represent the moral outrage of the slain and can only be observed by the guilty. The eternal fires of karma take revenge in powerfully staged settings with music, color and mise en scene articulating the karmic resolutions. Though both films sound on paper as only perhaps intellectual enterprises they express on film very shocking denouements to the recipients of their wrath and are better seen than described. A fan of someone like Bava could perhaps see some relevance and relation to his use of color and atmosphere possibly, due to the evocative cinematography rampant in both films. 

Don't know if I am the only fan of Japanese horror here but I hope not. I 

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I don't know much about Japanese horror historically, but I did watch both movies from this week's TCM imports from Nobuo Nakagama. I especially enjoyed the 1959 Ghost Story of Yotsuya.

 

The idea that the ronin (or samurai without a master, as I understand it) committed such atrocities against his faithful wife and her family, and just about everyone else he met was particularly interesting to me because he seemed to have totally lost his moral compass. As he sunk deeper into the morass of his own evil, the movie built to a gruesome pitch. The ghost of his poisoned wife, her face bubbled with sores and blood, being nailed to a shutter by him and sunk in the fetid swamp, only to float up and haunt him,  seemed to be the story's only way of making him face the horrors he had committed. And she kept appearing throughout the third act--on the ceiling, in mirrors, behind curtains, etc. Yet, throughout the film he seemed incapable of feeling any human emotion or conscience about his crimes until finally at the end he is forced to suffer the consequences of his own actions. 

 

Revenge is definitely the theme of this movie, but carried out in a way both cinematically and artistically that I had never seen before on screen. I loved this movie.

 

Ben M. mentioned that modern directors of Japanese horror films, such as Ju-on (The Grudge), Ringu (The Ring) and Honogurai mizu no soko kara (Dark Water) cited Nakagama as part of their inspiration. I have seen the original Japanese versions of these 3 movies (not the American remakes) and can certainly say that the influences of "Ghost Story" can be seen in all.

 

The two Japanese imports on TCM really scared me and thrilled me and that's a good indication of real horror.

 

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I don't know much about Japanese horror historically, but I did watch both movies from this week's TCM imports from Nobuo Nakagama. I especially enjoyed the 1959 Ghost Story of Yotsuya.

The two Japanese imports on TCM really scared me and thrilled me and that's a good indication of real horror.

 

In Japan lore, ghosts don't say "Boo", they say "Urameshii-ya", and Yotsuya Ghost Story is considered the classic root of that myth.

You always get better ghost stories from countries that actually believe in them and know whereof they speak.

(Just like the 00's flood of modern Japanese "Haunted technology" thrillers after The Ring came from a culture that knew cellphones couldn't hold back the past.)

 

Criterion's got a few of the classics, don't know how many are on FilmStruck:

Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan (1964) is traditionally most people's first stylized-Technicolor introduction to the classic ghost stories, while Kaneto Shindo's Onibaba (1964) handles the old chestnut about the Demon Mask, and Kaneto Shindo's Kuroneko (1968) loosely adapts the classic Rashomon Gate tragedy that also loosely inspired the "Tenchi Muyo" anime.

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The 16 Best Japanese Horror Movies of All Time-

 

http://screenrant.com/best-japanese-horror-movies/

 

 

Remembering the J-Horror Craze of the Early 2000s -

 

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wnzzmz/why-we-were-so-obsessed-with-japanese-horror-remakes

 

 

"Japanese horror is Japanese horror fiction in popular culture, noted for its unique thematic and conventional treatment of the horror genre in light of western treatments. Japanese horror tends to focus on psychological horror and tension building (suspense), particularly involving ghosts and poltergeists, while many contain themes of folk religion such as: possession, exorcism, shamanism, precognition, and yōkai........

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_horror

 

-loved the ones I've seen!

:)

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Well, maybe you can help me out with this one----

 

Back in the mid '60's, a local theater would have Saturday matinees in which they'd play B movies.  Sometimes older juvenile delinquent flicks and often old "B" horror/sci-fi  movies.

 

One afternoon, I saw some Japanese production that was promoted as, and the opening credits(obviously translated) indicated it's title as "The X Men".  It was some kind of geletinous "Blob" like green matter that would ooze around either climbing up the leg of whoever stepped in it, or drop down on someone and completely cover them and then dissolve and consume them. 

 

Since I saw it in '64, it had to be made a few years earlier.  And I can't find out anything about it.  Every time I enter "X Men"  in my search engine, I wind up getting links to the more recent Wolverine/Marvel comics  movies.  

 

So I tried "The Green Slime", thinking maybe IT was possibly the original title, lost in translation.  But I got ushered to some Japanese flick made four years AFTER I saw the one I was looking for.  Which, as I stated, looked to have been made four or more years BEFORE I saw it.  Was I the ONLY person to have seen this flick?  I do recall a half filled theater watching it with me.......

 

 

Sepiatone

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Well, maybe you can help me out with this one----

 

One afternoon, I saw some Japanese production that was promoted as, and the opening credits(obviously translated) indicated it's title as "The X Men".  It was some kind of geletinous "Blob" like green matter that would ooze around either climbing up the leg of whoever stepped in it, or drop down on someone and completely cover them and then dissolve and consume them. 

 

Since I saw it in '64, it had to be made a few years earlier.  And I can't find out anything about it.  Every time I enter "X Men"  in my search engine, I wind up getting links to the more recent Wolverine/Marvel comics  movies.  

 

That would be 'The H-Man' (1958).

 

That's the title it was shown with up here in Canada. I'd imagine it was the same in the U.S. - and I do believe that TCM has shown it in the past  (maybe about 5 years ago).

 

Here it is:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051413/reference

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That would be 'The H-Man' (1958).

 

 

Yes, it's The H-Man.  Easy to get those letters confused.

 

Criterion's niche-boxset Eclipse collections (also on FilmStruck?  Used to be on Hulu) released "When Horror Came to Shochiku", https://www.amazon.com/Eclipse-37-Shochiku-Criterion-Collection/dp/B008Y5OXDI/ , when the studio tried getting away from classic August kabuki ghost-stories in the 60's, and went on to more Western-style sci-fi/horror, with  

Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell (1968) and The X From Outer Space (1967- yes, the giant alien chicken).

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:unsure:  :huh:

 

That no doubt is  the movie.

 

And yeah, "H" is easy to confuse with "X" in a movie title, especially when trying to remember a near 60 year old movie seen only once 52 YEARS AGO!  :wacko:  :lol:

 

My most grateful and heartfelt thanks go out to DB and Eric for helping to clear this up.  :wub:

 

 

Sepiatone

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