Japanese horror is scarier than American horror

During my daily swing around various news sources I came across this great little article in the New Zealand Herald about the differences between Japanese horror and American horror films.

I’m still stunned by how many people over here don’t realize how many of the big hit horror films in the last couple of years are actually just inferior remakes of Japanese films. Here is a short excerpt from the article:

Takashige Ichise, producer of several of the eerie films that started a horror boom in Japan in the late 1990s and have translated into big bucks at the international box office, is confident of the reason for their appeal. “Japanese horror is scarier than American horror,” he said in an interview. “Japanese films show ghosts coming into people’s everyday lives. When the audience goes home, in the elevator, in the bath, wherever they are, they will still feel afraid,” he added. “That eerie feeling lasts.”

The article is really worth the read.

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24 thoughts on “Japanese horror is scarier than American horror

  1. I totally agree that japanese horrors r much scarier than american one’s…they totally mess with ur brain….and they’re in a totally different league from american horrors when it comes to scaring the bejesus outta u!!

  2. I saw the US version of ‘the grudge’ when I was in Tokyo. I havent been that disturbed by a movie since I was a kid. I couldnt sleep with the lights off for months. I did some research and I found it amazing the director manipulated such minute elements within scenes, such as sound, camera angle, and shadows and put it together to create something so unsettling. something an american director probably wouldnt have the patience for.

    I never thought I would be so freaking afraid of a skinny little Japanese girl!!!

  3. It’s so irritating that Hollywood has to do a remake of pretty much every good asian horror movie!

    I think that the Ring-remakes were awful compared to the originals – to know that they are going to do the same thing to Dark Water, A tale of two sisters, The Eye etc just pisses me off.

    I totally agree with Kiro – watch the originals before you watch the remakes.

  4. House of a 1000 corpses, artsy, techni-color rip-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre … visually appealing w/tons of potential, but alas big let down.

    House of Wax, ridiculous insult to Vincent Price. I’m shocked, and appauled that they would fill it with actors who make up the WB’s primetime line up… but ahem: the remake of the texas chainsaw massacre also starred Jessica Biel (Mary camden (?) 7th heaven — Jee-sus!)

    I fear for The Hills have Eyes…

    j-horror remakes … nothing will be as good as the original. I can imagine that if Hollywood were to remake Battle Royale, or Uzumaki, they’d find a way to fill it with sexual connotations left and right(american audience love the sex! and on that note Rape the original story of its endearing qualities) OR higher an actor who can get wide eyed and cry on command and then the audience is suppose to feel her fear…


  5. I saw all the ju-on movies, the eye and eye 2, the hunted office, the phone, ringu and ringu 2, bangkok hunted, eve tne indonesian hunted doll. i think asian horror films are way better than hollywood horrors. i had a date once and we watched the movie “wishing stairs” Wow!!! it really freaked me out, when i saw the EYE, i was astounded by the story and the ringu movies were of a smash freaky movie for me. i hope there would be more of korean and japanese movies every month because they ROCK!!!

  6. I’m devastated that America is remaking basically every single J-horror in the past five years. With Hollywood’s big budget, they are sure to make a mess of them. With The Grudge, all the best moments had been left out and replaced with tacky American “making you jump” effects. A door slams loudly. You jump. Are you now afraid of doors? What is effective about Japanese horror is that they are more realistic and disquieting.

    Whatever you do, do NOT see any American remake of a J-horror. Or if you do, make sure you’ve seen the original first.

  7. “p.s for a real scare watch the first friday the 13th or halloween or nightmare on elm st CLASS HORROR”

    Also…Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. They aren’t just scary they also have deeper meanings that is worth a thought…

  8. Having just watched Ringu and Ju-on and then seeing the americanised versions I have to admit that both the originals and the remakes had me hiding behind the sofa. The American way of film making is more ‘in yer face’ with blood and guts and the hero/heroine facing the demon/bad guy and defeating it. Where as the Japanese are more psychological and play with your head first before jumping on you with the big scares so in the long run both American and Japanese horror films are scary in their own right depending on what sort of film you are into. p.s for a real scare watch the first friday the 13th or halloween or nightmare on elm st CLASS HORROR

  9. i for one, am looking forward to the house of wax. it looks like a mesh between wrong turn + texas chainsaw massacre.

    and as mentioned by a previous poster, north american horror is very “showy.” it just shows the viewer the figment of the horror. while the current crop of asian flicks focuses more on the cerebral, requiring the audience member to think.

    this is because h-town always had unlimited budgets. that’s why they can spend so much on the special effects (e.g., constantine), while films overseas have to resort to story-telling more. they cannot afford those budgets.

    none of them are scarier or better. i say bring on the best of both worlds. :) most recent asian horror flick i’ve seen was the eye 2, definitely worth a rent.

  10. I think that Hollywood should stop redoing Japanese horror movies. Both Ringu and Ju-on were way better than their Hollywood counterparts. Now I hear that The Eye is getting a make over, I fear for the worse. Whats next Audition, Battle Royal, Dead or Alive?

  11. i totally agree with the header. i watched the grudge a few weeks ago and i was hiding behind my hands, under the covers, cause i was so freaked out by the movie. i would have been embarassed if my mother out-law walked in on me!
    bring on more japanese horror!

  12. I’m wary of that Jason, I wonder how much of it is trailer led. I mean the first trailer was hack’n’slash and the second trailer was all psychological and spooky…either there’s a healthy mix of both and a good movie, or they’ve manipulated the trailers…again.

  13. don’t forget about the new Amityville Horror. could it actually be worth seeing or is it going to be just as bad as all the others. seems like i was ready to jump out of my seat acouple of times. fancy effects and clever editing will getcha every time. it’s the american way!

  14. This one is for Ryans comment…. ‘name a current good American horror movie’… easy: House of 1000 Corpses – it holds all the right elements of suspense, slash & blood – its just plain old scary in places. We got the sequal coming up this summer too – The Devils Rejects… one to look forward to

  15. Okay, so American films are just plain bloody. And, yes, Japanese films are subtle. So what? You like what you like. I happen to love bloody B-horror movies and also like horror movies by Japanese directors. I disagree about Ringu, though. I did see it after The Ring and I thought it was boring and not scary. Maybe I should have seen it first, but then I might not have thought that The Ring was scary. I am not sure. The Grudge was horrible and The Ring 2 was not as good as the first. I also want to know why it is such a “shock” that The Ring, The Ring 2, The Grudge, and Dark Waters were written by the same Japanese author. They are SHOCKINGLY similar.

  16. There are cultural differences between what people in Japan find scary as opposed to what people in North America find scary. I was reading an interview a while back with the guy who did The Grudge (both the Japanese and American versions) and he said that in Japan people are freaked out by things they can’t see, ghosts, spirits, etc, whereas the U.S. people are afraid of other people (ie. serial killers, etc). Kind of makes you think doesn’t it?

    The strange thing is that the trend seems to be changing as people have become desensitized to the slasher films in the U.S. Just seeing blood doesn’t scare anyone anymore. All the Japanese horror is coming over here and for some people, they’re finding it more frightening specifically because it is more subtle and leaves more to the imagination.

  17. Yeah, they rely more on creating an overall sense of unease in the viewer than by scaring them with jumpy noises.

    What Richard said about subtle things making a film scary. It reminds me of the supposed subliminal messages in the Exorcist, where you wouldn’t notice anything wrong, but it would seep in through your subconsious.

  18. One of the things Asian horror is good at is subtlety. Things like tilting the camera by the tiniest of fractions, just looking at the screen it’s not even recognisable, but over the period of a scene the brain realises that there is something slightly askew in comparison to what it believes to be level and it alerts the body making you uneasy. Very clever.

    Things like in Ring when the boy is walking around the house during the wake and as the camera shows the stairway you see a glimpse of feet just disappearing off camera. Just enough to make you think, did I see that?

    The art of subtlety is throughout these movies, and that’s what makes them good. Sure there are big scenes of blood and gore and they can be in your face, but these are the exceptions.

    Hollywood can’t do subtle in the slightest, they can do big and in your face, and this is what they do all the time, it’s the norm.

  19. Someone please name a current good American horror movie.. unless we skip like the couple little Shingings and Misery, neither of which is really that horror-y..

    Really though I cannot think of anything.

    Now Audition, that was great.

    /Cabin Fever made me laugh a lot

  20. all i have to do is read the article title to tell you “DUH”. japanese films prey on suspense and supernatural eerieness (sp?). unlike american horror which is nothing more than hack and slash bloodbathing psychos and the occasional editing pop-up/make you jump door slam cause you weren’t expecting it.

    japanese horror is more of a mental thing whereas america is all about visuals and no plot.

    i loved ringu but hated the ring. i thought juon was pretty good and didn’t even waste my time to see the grudge. i would rather watch a good miike flick anyway.

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