During a discussion with friends about horror movies, it dawned on me that not only am I freak (when it comes to movies, I watch far too many), but many of my friends had no idea that many of the films they were watching were remakes of already successful Asian films.
Asia may only be a few thousand miles away from America travel-wise, but in terms of history and folklore, the East and the West can sometimes seem to be galaxies apart. The folklore those of us in the west grew up with, both good and evil, from Santa Claus to the Tooth Fairy to Vampires and Boogeymen, prepare us psychologically for the horrors we face on the silver screen in Western movies, and have at times become the subject of the movies themselves.
Santa Claus = Silent Night, Deadly Night (Original – 1984)
The Tooth Fairy = Darkness Falls (2003)
Japanese folklore and historic terrors, although similar to ours, seem to touch upon feelings that are utterly Japanese, so spooks and beasts like the kappa, seem entirely alien to us (although some say the Scottish “kelpie” is quite similar…but IMHO, saying kelpies and kappa are similar is like saying hats and shoes are similar. Sure, they are both articles of clothing, but the similarity ends there.)
Reasons like this are why the sudden rise in both Japanese horror films (sometimes called J-Horror), and their American remakes are of such interest to horror movie freaks such as myself…while the success they have here stateside simply blows my mind. Some films are best left alone by Hollywood, and hopefully will never be remade, such as:
Odishon (Audition) (1999)
Whereas most women meant to scare in J-Horror are usually portrayed as unkempt (further insight into Japanese culture and their feeling towards outward societal appearance), the woman in this film, with her traditional Japanese beauty so filled with evil intent is quite possibly one of the most frightening images you’ll ever see.
Ichi The Killer (2001)
More exploitation than horror, Ichi was created by the Japanese mastermind Takashi Miike and is perfection….brutal, bloody, over the top. Hopefully some idiot in LA will never get the moronic idea to remake it in the US.