Adapted from Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel of the same name, Ringu リング is a cultural phenomena. Directed by Hideo Nakata, Ring launched a revival of horror filmmaking in Japan, and influenced American horror cinema at the turn of the 21st century. From the moment the Toho vanity card ends, Ringu gets under your skin. Forgoing the science behind the videotape in Koji Suzuki’s original novel, Hideo Nakata and screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi instead re-imagine Ringu as a curse.
In the United Kingdom, Liverpool Small Cinema presents an iconic Japanese horror double bill: Hideo Nakata’s Ringu (1998) and Nobuhiko Obayashi’s Hausu (1977).
“To try and narrow down a selection of Japanese horror films, which cover all things psychological, supernatural, explicit and mythological, is no easy task however, so we felt that the programme would need to reflect the full scale of myths, folk and ghost tales that have dominated Japanese culture for centuries.”
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003): From its eerie opening credits – indistinct ripples ebbing over green wallpaper – to the plot twists and revelations at its climax, ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ is worthy of admission to the ranks of the best psychological horrors with greats such as ‘The Innocents’ or ‘The Others’.
“Do you know what’s really scary? You want to forget something. Totally wipe it off your mind. But you never can. It can’t go away, you see. And it follows you around like a ghost.”
Battle Royale (2000): Enforcing the terms of the new ‘Battle Royale Act’ one class of ninth-grade students is selected annually by lottery and relocated to an isolated island, fitted with explosive collars, given random weapons and forced to participate in a 3-day survival competition in which the last student left alive is the winner.
“There’s a way out of this game. Kill yourselves together…here…now. If you can’t do that, then don’t trust anyone… just run.”
When a new era of Asian horror films entered mainstream Western cinema with Hideo Nakata’s ‘The Ring’, Asian horror movies were soon perceived to be chasing Hollywood’s more hackneyed horror efforts into the shadows.