Nightmare Japan

Contemporary Japanese Horror Cinema


Over the last two decades, Japanese filmmakers have produced some of the most important and innovative works of cinematic horror. At once visually arresting, philosophically complex, and politically charged, films by directors like Tsukamoto Shinya (Tetsuo: The Iron Man [1988] and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer [1992]), Sato Hisayasu (Muscle [1988] and Naked Blood [1995]) Kurosawa Kiyoshi (Cure [1997], Séance [2000], and Kaïro [2001]), Nakata Hideo (Ringu [1998], Ringu II [1999], and Dark Water [2002]), and Miike Takashi (Audition [1999] and Ichi the Killer [2001]) continually revisit and redefine the horror genre in both its Japanese and global contexts. In the process, these and other directors of contemporary Japanese horror film consistently contribute exciting and important new visions, from postmodern reworkings of traditional avenging spirit narratives to groundbreaking works of cinematic terror that position depictions of radical or ‘monstrous’ alterity/hybridity as metaphors for larger socio-political concerns, including shifting gender roles, reconsiderations of the importance of the extended family as a social institution, and reconceptualisations of the very notion of cultural and national boundaries.

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Jay McRoy is Associate Professor of English and Cinema Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He is the editor of Japanese Horror Cinema (EUP, 2005) and co-editor (with Richard Hand) of Monstrous Adaptations: Thematic and Generic Mutations in Horror Film (Manchester University Press, 2007).
List of Illustrations
Introduction:‘New Waves’, Old Terrors, and Emerging Fears
Guinea Pigs and Entrails: Cultural Transformations and Body Horror in Japanese Torture Film
Cultural Transformation, Corporeal Prohibitions and Body Horror in Sato Hisayasu’s Naked Blood and Muscle
Ghosts of the Present, Spectres of the Past: The kaidan and the Haunted Family in the Cinema of Nakata Hideo
and Shimizu Takashi
A Murder of Doves: Youth Violence and the Rites of Passing in Contemporary Japanese Horror Cinema
Spiraling into Apocalypse: Sono Shion’s Suicide Circle, Higuchinsky’s Uzumaki and Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s Pulse
New Terrors, Emerging Trends, and the Future of Japanese Horror Cinema
Works Cited and Consulted
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