Saturday, October 23, 2004

From Japan, with blood: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune examines Hollywood's long-running fascination with Japanese horror films, manifested most recently in the form of The Grudge (Ju-On) and The Ring:

"The current spate of chillers from Japan are the polar opposite of old-school fright films, which generated chills with the sight of a man in a rubber lizard suit stomping Tokyo. [Prof. William] Tsutsumi explores the long-running popularity of such films and their relation to currents in Japanese culture in his new book Godzilla on My Mind.

"'What we see now is the esthetic of anime [cartoons] and manga [comic books for adults] being very violent and graphic,' he said. 'The old movies were made in a simpler, gentler time. They're almost completely nonviolent. At worst, they were wrestling.

"'Godzilla exists in the context of "secure horror." The monster may destroy the town, but in the end society survives and the structures of authority are in place. You go home and say, "Ah, wasn't that terrifying, but we're all safe." In the more modern Japanese horror, the same message is not coming through.'"