The Cinematheque to Screen a Splatter of Japanese Horror Films as Halloween Approaches

The GOODS from The Cinematheque

Vancouver, BC | Let’s see. Dead-eyed, pallid-skinned ghoul children? Manic visions of transhumanism run amok? Slow-burn chills that one-eighty into stomach-turning gore? Gonzo, goofy, ghost-story psychedelia? Yep, boxes are checked for The Cinematheque’s up a J-horror primer this Halloween, featuring five benchmark blood-curdlers from the land of high-art horror, Japan. Four of the films arrive in optic-frying new restorations, with a digitally refurbished Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) receiving its North American theatrical debut. There’ll be nightmare fuel aplenty, dear scream seekers! As if 2020 wasn’t already scary enough…

Ring | (Ringu) | Japan 1998 | Hideo Nakata

October 23 (Friday) 6:30 pm
October 24 (Saturday) 4:00 pm
October 26 (Monday) 8:45 pm
October 29 (Thursday) 6:30 pm
October 31 (Saturday) 6:30 pm

New Restoration! The film to which the term “J-horror” owes its currency, Hideo Nakata’s seminal spine-tingler is a bona fide classic that ignited an entire new wave in Japanese horror cinema. Ring taps terror by deftly blending traditional Japanese ghostlore with modern-day fears around technology’s unchecked proliferation?—?a recurring motif in the J-horror canon. “An atmospheric tour de force, to J-horror what The Beatles were to the British Invasion … For those new to J-horror, my advice is start here.” Patrick Galloway, Asia Shock.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man | (Tetsuo) | Japan 1989 | Shinya Tsukamoto

October 23 (Friday) 8:45 pm
October 26 (Monday) 7:00 pm
October 30 (Friday) 9:00 pm

New Restoration! Cult director Shinya Tsukamoto’s monochrome nightmare of flesh and metal is a J-horror landmark in a deranged league all its own. Inspired by the technophobic body-horror of Cronenberg (think Videodrome) and the surreal grotesqueries of early Lynch (think Eraserhead), this ultra-outré midnight movie tells of a “metal fetishist” (Tsukamoto himself) whose perverse, self-administered experiments include fusing body and machine. “Completely bonkers and bizarrely sexual, Tetsuo is an essential watch. It remains a cult film that keeps kicking and screaming down the years, with a fan base that includes Quentin Tarantino.” Lou Thomas, British Film Institute.

Dark Water | (Honogurai mizu no soko kara) | Japan 2002 | Hideo Nakata

October 24 (Saturday) 6:30 pm
October 25 (Sunday) 4:00 pm
October 29 (Thursday) 8:45 pm
October 31 (Saturday) 4:00 pm

New Restoration! Having changed the tides of horror with his 1998 screamfest Ring, director Hideo Nakata returned to the wellspring of author Kôji Suzuki’s haunting prose for this supremely atmospheric, leaky-condo creeper. With visual homages to horror greats Don’t Look Now and The Shining, Nakata crafts an absorbing, psychological skin-nestler that, much like Ring, summons supernatural heebie-jeebies from the anxieties of single motherdom (a Suzuki pet theme). “This really very scary Japanese ghost story from director Hideo Nakata exerts a chilling grip with its icy calm and eerie reticence.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.

House (Hausu) | Japan 1977 | Nobuhiko Obayashi

October 24 (Saturday) 8:45 pm
October 25 (Sunday) 6:30 pm
October 28 (Wednesday) 9:00 pm
October 31 (Saturday) 8:45 pm

Prolific Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi, who died in April of this year, would still be virtually unknown in the West had his gloriously demented 1977 freakout not been exhumed and unleashed on dumbfounded Anglo audiences ten years ago. An instant cult classic and riotous arthouse smash, House is a campfire ghost-story told at the peak of a peyote trip, a haunted-house picture book rendered in crayons and jugs of red paint. “Delirious, deranged, gonzo, or just gone, baby, gone?—?no single adjective or even a pileup does justice to House … A film made for late-night screening and screaming.” Manohla Dargis, New York Times.

Audition | (Ôdishon) | Japan 1999 | Takashi Miike

October 25 (Sunday) 8:30 pm
October 28 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm
October 30 (Friday) 6:30 pm

New Restoration! Japanese extremist Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer) exploded onto the international stage with this shocker of a slow-burn, bait-and-switch horror flick. On the heels of Hideo Nakata’s Ring, Audition offered an alternative, decidedly arthouse take on the nascent “J-horror” film?—?one grounded in human cruelty and doused in surgically severed limbs. “An almost unclassifiable masterpiece of J-horror.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.


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