A critical introduction the most important Japanese horror films produced over the last fifty years, Japanese Horror Cinema provides an insightful examination of. Japanese Horror Cinema has 29 ratings and 2 reviews. Chris said: A competent, well put together collection of essay reflecting the broad themes that have. JAPANESE HORROR CINEMA (PAPERBACK) Author Jay McRoy. Published by University of Hawaii Press Publication Date:

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Jay McRoy Nightmare Japan: Contemporary Japanese Horror Cinema. Robinson State University of New York at Buffalo Despite the ubiquity of Japanese and Japanese-inspired horror films in recent years, this genre has attracted surprisingly little in-depth critical analysis from scholars.

Japanese horror cinema – Jay McRoy – Google Books

Contemporary Japanese Horror Cinema Jay McRoy, author of the only other book-length treatment of contemporary J-horror to date,1 has provided a much needed corrective to this dearth of scholarly attention. In doing so, McRoy reveals a vibrant genre that is intensely experimental and rich in satire and allegory, despite what might seem like the overexposure of its most well known exemplars and their Westernised remakes. It is axiomatic that horror films act as barometers for social anxiety.

However, the use of the body as a metaphor for larger socio-political formalisms is hardly unique to Western cinema. According to McRoy, as depicted in many J-horror films, the corporeal body represents the transforming Japanese socio-political body in its response to its particular historicity. University of Hawaii Press. What emerges is an entertaining discussion of the horror film as a series of texts firmly situated within contemporary Japanese political discourse.

Book Review: Japanese Horror Cinema – Author Jay McRoy | HNN

According to McRoy, this discourse centres around shifting notions of collective identity, the trauma of abrupt social change in an era of globalisation, and the tension between the desire for social cohesion, and a return to origins with a growing discontent concerning the more pathological aspects of traditional conceptions of gender roles and social identity.

While many film genres are capable of tackling ajpanese issues, the horror genre in particular seems especially well suited to such critical introspection due to its preoccupation with boundaries and their violation. According to McRoy, the liminal physiognomies that frequently populate Japanese horror films – from traditional notions of monstrosity to phantom-like entities and dismembered bodies – are symbolic of the kind of cultural transformations the Japanese have been forced to confront horrlr the post-capitalist era 4.

As was the case for many other societies, the Japanese national identity formed in reaction to forced encounters with Westerners and their nineteenth century imperialist notions of the nation-state. Hence, McRoy is quite right to point out that the idea of a distinctly and uniquely Japanese national identity is itself a product of modernity Part and parcel of the development of a collective identity is a preoccupation with boundaries.

Indeed, all forms of nationalism involve the idea of a special and unique people who possess a common memory of the past and a view of history, which holds a distinctive role for them at its centre Kohn Like many other societies, Japan has periodically embraced nationalism as a way to defy encroaching Western imperialism.

Yet, nationalism paradoxically can also threaten the internal stability of a body politic.

Because it entails the construction of a largely illusory homogeneity i. Under such circumstances, pressures to conform present individuals with few options for socially acceptable identities and personal fulfilment.


J-horror films reveal tremendous ambivalence on the part of Japanese towards their contemporary predicament, exhibiting both Film-Philosophy ISSN: The contemporary Japanese horror film resides in the very midst of such debates. It is a testimony to the ingenuity of McRoy as a writer that he is able to discuss these films, which may very well be the most challenging form of cinema extant, in a manner that gives the reader some appreciation for what would otherwise be a singularly unpleasant viewing experience.

As McRoy shrewdly points out, these films both alienate the viewer and threaten to collapse the distinction between spectator and spectacle and they do so in an aesthetic manner that takes its cue from a curious mixture of the pink eiga or soft-core films and the traditional chanbara eiga or samurai films According to McRoy, how this film goes about revealing its contents is as important as the content of what is revealed. Its narrative both arises out of, and is a contribution to the popular tradition of sadomasochistic imagery in Japanese cinema, as well as being an indication of the nostalgic desire to contain and punish women in response to male anxieties about changing gender roles in contemporary Japan.

However, according to McRoy, the film is more than simply misogynistic insofar as it also depicts the dissolution of the boundary Film-Philosophy ISSN: In doing so, it replicates the very act of torture and, as such, must be understood as a complex study of power Interestingly, however, McRoy fails to entertain other possible interpretations of guinea pig films, which might counter some of the misogynistic readings.

In this view, the enemy-as-outsider-invader of the body politic is almost japanewe depicted in propaganda not only as a barbarian, but as a rapist and defiler of womanhood, i. Issues of space and place have moved to the fore in many critical analyses of society mfroy culture in recent years Herbert According to Japanese philosopher Watsuji Tetsuro, our sense of self is primarily that of an embodied hororr that acts within space.

We do not first think about the world, rather we first jjapanese within it. As a result, we seem to be intrinsically inclined toward thinking about complicated, abstract concepts in terms of maps with our embodied selves at the centre. J-horror films play with this notion and, depending on which end of the political spectrum they stem from, depict the desire for the return to a homogenous, fully-integrated mythic past or imagine a radical departure from the present with the hope for new future.

In particular, Pulse and Uzumaki play with the notion that Armageddon while destructive and frightening, may in fact be necessary for jspanese and social rebirth.

Such ambivalence about change renders the horror genre especially effective at articulating our deep-seated ambivalence towards such transformation and the J-horror genre is no exception. Assertions should be backed by clear arguments, which systematically lay out the line of reasoning used by the work being cited.

This is useful not only for an audience unfamiliar with the works cited, but also allows readers to critically assess the arguments being proffered.

For jqy, although McRoy notes recurring motifs in Japanese horror, such as the staring eye and long black hair, he fails to explicate the origins of these motifs. Perhaps most glaring is the scant attention paid to the impact of Shinto on the Japanese worldview, particularly regarding notions of cleanliness and decay.


McRoy relegates Shintoism to the chapter on the traditional ghost story, but there is much regarding this religion that could be horror to other chapters as well. Under feudalism, a rigid class hierarchy dictated that those whose occupations brought them in contact with death, such as butchers, undertakers, and executioners, were greatly stigmatised.

The Grudge mcfoy, there is little effort to theorise their implications and one suspects that McRoy views such films as merely derivative. However, the phenomenon of the remake and its relation to nihilism and existentialist themes deserves a bit more attention and, hence, some reference to the work of Scott A.

Japanese Horror Cinema

Lukas and John Marmysz would have been welcome. To be fair, McRoy himself clearly states that the book is meant to be an introductory text rather than horrro comprehensive analysis of the J-horror phenomenon, therefore serving merely as a point of departure for further discussion.

Nonetheless, some readers might wish for a bit more, particularly about issues and topics that are culturally embedded and whose origins are unknown to most Westerners.

Cinmea this manner, Nightmare teases the reader and makes him or her wish for more. Regardless, Nightmare Japan has much to offer.

It is both timely and relevant and the fact that it is the only book-length kcroy to deal with this 2 Tabe, Hajime Devil Woman Doctor Za ginipiggu 6: Peter no akuma no joi-san.

As McRoy points out, the very notion of a distinct national and cultural identity is itself the product of modernisation. What such an identity means in this age of globalisation is an issue with which all vinema must grapple. In other words, how it is that an identity concept can retain its uniqueness and decide on its constituent parts and core characteristics in the face of constant challenges while still allowing for some flexibility so as to meet the challenges of the postmodern world.

The J-horror film can be viewed as constituting part of a larger socio- political discourse concerning identity, its representation and as such it is worthy of our consideration.

Lukas and John Marmysz. Keen, Sam Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination. Kohn, Hans Nationalism: Its Meaning and History. Kolnai, Aurel [] On Disgust. Barry Smith and Carolyn Korsmeyer. Fear, Cultural Anxiety, and Transformation: Menninghaus, Winifred Disgust: The Theory of the History of a Strong Sensation.

State University of New Nay Press. Miller, William Ian Anatomy of Disgust. Olsson, Gunnar Abysmal: A Critique of Cartographic Reason.

University of Chicago Press.

Gaghan, Stephen Syriana. Higuchinsky Uzumaki, Spiral and Vortex. Matsumura, Katsuya All Night Long 2: Atrocity Ooru naito rongu 2: Matsumura, Katsuya All Night Long 3: Atrocities Ooru naito rongu 3: Nakata Hideo Ringu. Nakata, Hideo Dark Water Honogurai mizu no soko kara.

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