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Ju-on: Kuroi Shoujo
[The Grudge: Girl in Black ]

Genre:Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

Young Fukie is suddenly stricken with a mysterious malady and is rushed to the local hospital for examination. Though her situation appears to be stabilizing, those coming into contact with her soon find themselves at the mercy of a dark, malignant power.This new Ju-on film is one of two made for the 10th anniversary commemoration of the Ju-on's original appearance.



Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo
[The Grudge:Old Lady in White ]

Genre:Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

When the Yokota family discovers a sprawling home on the market for a rock-bottom price, they can't resist and quickly move in. Little do they realize that their new dream home was once occupied by the infamous Saeki family and the locus of a horrendously malevolent curse on all who enter. This new Ju-on film is one of two made for the 10th anniversary commemoration of the Ju-on's original appearance.



Shinsei Toire no Hanako-san
[Toilet Hanako-san: New Student]

Genre: Creepy School-Based Horror

review in one breath

This is the fourth and final film in the Hanako series and provides some truly creepy Shinto-based horror involving decrepit shrines, an amazingly demonic doll and plenty of mind-bending (and eye-popping) possession. This is a spooky and effective finale to the well-known Toire no Hanako-san tales.



Toire no Hanako-san : Kyoufu kousha
[Toilet Hanako-san: School of Fear]

Genre: School-Based Horror Story

review in one breath

Though far less than terrifying, this third version of the Toire no Hanako series opened up so much weird Japanese superstition that I can only stand in awe with jaw wide open. Exposure to this wholly foreign perspective of ghostliness thoroughly makes up for this film's lack of cinematic polish.



Cursed
['Cho' Kowai Hanashi A: Yami no karasu]

Genre:

Food Mart From HELL !!

A seemingly innocent Food Mart apparently harbors massive spiritual malaise as various demonic curses inflict everyone who purchases something from the store. Only when a couple of intuitive souls wander into the store is the formidable mystery explained.



Toire no Hanako-san: Kieta Shojou no Himistu
[Toilet Hanako-san: Secret of the Disappearing Girl]

Genre: School-Based Horror Story

review in one breath

This is a creative and effective sequel to the 1995 Toire no Hanako-san about a ghostly young girl terrorizing the fleeing students of an elementary school. In this film, the horror moves to a high school where a spiritually sensitive student soon succumbs to a growing presence in the school. By the time she is able to convince her classmates of her premonitions, the formidable power of Hanako is in full swing.



Kaisha no Kaidan 2: Office Horror Story

Genre: Supernatural Ghost Stories

review in one breath

Kaisha no Kaidan and Kaisha no Kaidan 2 were both directed by Katou Fumihiko in 1997. Katou is not exactly a distinguished director as most of his other work was done from the position of Assistant Director. His only other work as principal director is the interestingly titled Orgasm Mariko (1996). Being unable to locate a viewable copy of this undoubtedly great film, I can only wonder what it could be about. Any guesses?



JU-ON

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

Here is a creepy Japanese movie straight out the Ring tradition. Shimizu Takashi is the director here, working with both Kiyoshi Kurosawa (director of Cure, Charisma, and Kairo) and Hiroshi Takahashi himself (screenwriter of the Ring trilogy). What this triad brings to the table is a classic japanese horror film relying on mood and sound and Japanese cultural intuitions about the fate of wronged souls.



JU-ON 2

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

The following review is full of "spoilers", though I doubt these will reduce the chill factor of seeing the movie. At the time of writing this, the TV movie version of Juon 2 is currently unavailable in a dubbed or subtitled version (at least in the U.S.) and so this review serves more as an explanation of the story rather than as a teaser aimed at getting you to go out and see the movie. Word has it that remake rights for Juon 2 have already been secured by an American production company (as has Juon) and so the day may soon come when Hollywood will have its own version of the following story (no doubt greatly modified, though).



JU-ON 2: Final
[JU-ON 2: The Grudge 2: Final]

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

Hold onto your bonnets boys and girls! Kayoko and Toshio are still holding a grudge toward anyone crossing their path in Shimizu Takashi's phenomenal sequel to the wildly popular Juon.



JU-ON - The Grudge

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

Hoo boy! Another scary Japanese movie straight out the Ring tradition (and indeed the movie flyer looks eerily similar to that of Ringu 2). Shimizu Takashi is the director here, working with both Kiyoshi Kurosawa (director of Cure, Charisma, and Kairo) and Hiroshi Takahashi himself (screenwriter of the Ring trilogy). What this triad brings to the table is a classic japanese horror film relying on mood and sound and Japanese cultural intuitions about the fate of wronged souls.



Izakaya Yurei
[Ghost Pub]

Genre: Humanitarian Ghost Story

review in one breath

Sotaro (Hagiwara Kenichi) is a hard working owner of a traditional Japanese izakaya (pub) which nightly serves its neighborhood patrons his traditional style cooking, cold beer, and warmed sake. After every day's long, hard work, Sotaro retreats to his living quarters above the pub, where his deathly ill wife Shizuko (Muroi Shigeru) quietly lies. Through his gentle encouragement she is able to smile and chat, but she feels the inevitable approach of death encroaching upon her. Almost jokingly, Shizuko disapprovingly suggests that after her death, Sotaro will quickly find another woman. And though Sotaro adamantly swears to the contrary, Shizuko does not seem satisfied until she makes him seal his promise, warning that if he should break it, a haunting obake (monster) will surely come.




Apartment 1303 [1303 go shitsu]

Genre: Haunted House Horror
Director: Oikawa Ataru (2007)

review in one breath

One after another, a series of new tenants in an oceanfront apartment on the 13th floor leap to their deaths in what local police can only describe as "serial suicide". When the sister of the most recent victim decides to investigate, she discovers that Apartment 1303 holds a very dark, powerful and horrific secret.


Aragami
[The Raging God of Battle]

??

Genre: Supernatural Samurai Action

review in one breath

Aragami was released in Japan as the second half of a cinematic "double feature" entitled Duel (2003). The first feature is entitled 2LDK, directed by Tsutsumi Yukihiko. The (well-known) story goes that Tsutsumi and Kitamura made a wager as to who could develop the more exciting "duel" film given the following criteria: (a) the film must only involve a duel (to the death) between two individuals, (b) the film set must be limited to a single location, and (c) the film must be shot within seven days.



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