Because I was so bummed out and disappointed with the Japanese vs. American Horror panel, I decided to go ahead and look up just a few facts just to show how easy it could have been to do the research.
Slideshare.net shared two really good points:
“After a while American horror films were beginning to lose their originality, it was around this time that Japanese horror took off.”
“Many Japanese horror films were known for their cleverness and restraint which was much different compared to American horror films at the time which focused more on excessive nudity and high body counts.”
That’s actually really true. The classic American Horror movies, such Freddie, Jason, Scream, Halloween series, all had one thing in common, a lot of white T-Shirt wearing, busty dumb girls getting hacked up. It’s been so over played that you can’t even yell at the T.V., “You dumb idiot, run outside! Not upstairs!” because Scream even made that mainstream! These stories have been done and over played. It’s a similar concept of pop songs; they have the same “why don’t you love me?” vibe. It’s been done… but it is still popular.
“Japanese horror films rely more on psychological horror which is a staple of early American horror films such as ‘The Haunting’, ‘The Shining’, and ‘Poltergeist’. These films are often cited by Japanese horror directors as their inspiration. Japanese horror films use folklore, ghost stories, and tales of honour and allegiance. Many of these movies deal with the breakdown of reality, family, and the mind dealing mainly with the unexplained.”
Another good point. Revenge and honor are such popular themes in Japanese movies because it is part of their culture. Honoring your family may be the highest priority in families. If you bring shame to the family, get ready to be ripped apart… no pun intended… actually, yes, lots of pun intended. You will get ripped apart. Bring your ‘A’ game.
“Japanese horror focuses on using more silence and empty spaces to create a sensation of impending death and doom. Terror is created by allowing the audience to not know what exactly is going on in these films as people are always scared the most by what they don’t know or understand. The American movie Jaws uses this exact formula as nobody see’s the shark for the first half of the movie therefore creating both suspense and fear.”
My husband and I watched Insidious 3 a few weekends ago and this was on the points he was referring to. Not being able to clearly see what or who is going to attack is what makes your skin crawl. It’s not an obvious shape or sound, the unknown evokes fear. One minute you’re staring at a person cuddled in bed, the next shot is a hazy figure standing in the shadow by the window. When we are thrown into a dark room, we begin to freak out because we don’t know what’s around us. Imagine being tossed into a basement, too dark to see clearly but just light enough to see shadows. The possibilities of… things to kill you become endless, thanks to your imagination.
PublicAsian.com also brought up a good point.
“The classic Asian horror films focus on psychological horror, invoking the demonic and the supernatural to build suspense throughout the film.”
Psychological horror will really screw with your head. It’s easy to say someone is stalking you, this guy is going to kill you, this girl cut me but go around saying a ghost wrote, “im going to rip your fucking throat out,” on your bathroom mirror with no evidence, be ready to be committed. No one is going to believe you.
Had they gone into depth about the differences and the importance of themes, the panel would have had a better shot of keeping everyone entertained. I could have just googled everything they said and discussed it with friends… after all, that’s what they did!