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Archive for June, 2009

We went rock climbing yesterday on Montezuma’s Tower (5.7) in Garden of the Gods. I’ve talked about this climb in an earlier blog entry, but this time I have video!

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This installment discusses Shimizu Takashi’s 2000 hit JU-ON.

J-Horror Classics – Shimizu Takashi’s JU-ON: THE GRUDGE

Despite the popularity of the 1998 RING, by 2000 it seemed like the Japanese horror boom had ended. At least, no films had been released that really could rival Nakata’s smash hit. In February, Shimizu Takashi released a straight-to-video film called JU-ON: THE CURSE. The production company expected it to a quick cash-in on the horror genre, nothing more. But Ju-On quickly became an underground hit much like The Ring had before it. The straight-to-video production of Ju-On had been made for the diehard purists, the kind of horror fans who line up to see movies on opening nights and whatnot. Realizing they could make a lot more on Ju-On, the studio funded a theatrical remake of the Ju-On which was released in theaters in January 2003 (This has been released in America as JU-ON: THE GRUDGE to distinguish itself from its predessor). The theatrical remake doesn’t offer too many changes to the original Ju-On story and has preserved the non-linear storyline that is a staple within the series. The only real change was the creation of the main character Nishina Rika, played by Okina Megumi. In fact, the roots of Ju-On can be traced all the way back to 1998.

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I was recently contacted by Tinker-san, who informed me that he has mentioned my review of Yotsuya Kaidan on his website ホラーSHOX / HORROR SHOX! This is a great website and an amazing resource for all kinds of horror films. I am very flattered by his description of my review =^_^=

If you are interested in reading the original Japanese, please follow this link to his page:
curse.jp/japan-horror/20090613222134.html

I have also included a translation of what the article says (if you cannot read Japanese and are interested in reading it).

TRANSLATION:

I found a YouTube video about Yotsuya Kaidan made by a foreigner. A beautiful blonde girl appeared, reviewing Yotsuya Kaidan. This person is amazing! “Yotsuya Kaidan is based on an old kabuki play. Because it is a very famous Japanese horror story, there are many versions of this movie. My favorites are definitely the one directed by Nakagawa and the Nakadai Tatsuya version. Nakadai Tatsuya is a big star, as big as Mifune.” Like that, she talks about the story very passionately. I wonder if she thinks that Japanese people are watching her YouTube video because she is speaking in very easy-to-listen-to English. So you should check it out. I bet that Japanese horror boys will be her fan.

She begins with an introduction of the basic story of Yotsuya Kaidan, then a summary of the historical background and gives her opinion about Japanese horror. Here is a rough translation of what she says:

“Black haired female ghosts set on revenge, water, trouble within families, and love relationships: these are all classic elements of Japanese horror. In my personal opinion, Nakagawa Nobuo’s version from 1959 has really good camera work. I like this one because it has a kabuki-like atmosphere. On the other hand, in the 1966 version Nakadai Tatsuya’s acting was very good. His acting with his big eyes creates a very nice haunted feeling…Women who are socially weak become ghosts with supernatural power and can seek revenge – I think storylines like these are the origins of Japanese horror. And there is a clear logic to it. In short, this means that if you do something bad, something bad will happen to you. Iyemon is in this exact situation. I think that this is a very traditional Japanese horror story, but there is a big difference when compared to modern Japanese horror stories. In modern Japanese horror, this logic is violated and, regardless of who you are, you are cursed. Many people die, just like in The Grudge. Some people say that modern Japanese horror has been influenced by the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack, but I’m not sure if this is really the case. It may just be a bad omen of modern society.”

When I see a foreigner who knows so much about Japan, I don’t why but I feel very proud and happy. I feel as if I am the one who is being praised, even though it’s not me who made the movie.

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I have included a critical review of The Ring to accompany my YouTube review…

The 1998 the release of Nakata Hideo’s RING (or RINGU) revolutionized not only the Japanese horror genre but in many way revitalized the Japanese film industry, which had toiled away in obscurity since the 1980s. The film was based off a novel of the same title written by author Suzuki Koji. The plotline of RING is probably known by pretty much anyone who watches film – there exists a haunted videotape that will kill you seven days after you watch it. Asakawa – a young reporter and single mother – finds herself cursed by the tape and must try and solve the mystery of its origins before her time runs out. Along the way she teams up with her ex-husband, who seems to possess some psychic ability himself, and accidentally exposes her young son to the curse as well. That is the plot line of the movie. The novel’s plot is actually quite different. Asakawa is actually a man who is fighting to protect his wife and daughter from the curse. Suzuki Koji, the author, states that this was a conscious choice made to highlight what he calls the ‘gendering’ of Japanese society. He feels that within modern Japanese society, the responsibility of raising the children is placed solely on the shoulders of women and that fathers play a very distant and uninvolved role.

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I posted another JET Vlog about my thoughts on the JET Statement of Purpose

Here is my statement of purpose:

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