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I’m Freaked Out By The Japanese…Freaked Out by The Japanese…I Really Think So October 12, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.

We were all feeling pretty good about ourselves for a few years there, weren’t we?

We as a collective unit knew that we were fully prepared and had what it takes to survive the outrageous and macabre scenarios that just might happen in a horror film. We were saturated with them throughout most of the eighties and nineties. Sick and deranged serial killers that exist in some mythical alterverse would never bring us down, we could say, if we followed the rules. And for the benefit of those of who didn’t see Scream or were just too into “those Police movies with the sound effects guy” to watch any of them, here’s the quick recap.

No sex. Ever. With anyone.

Dark rooms, alleys or corners are to be treated like Greta Garbo and left alone.

Serial killers are slow and can be outrun, even by fat kids and people have the propensity to trip over usually uncumbersome objects, like dirt.

If you have to choose between certain escape and trying to save that girl who probably won’t like you anyway after you set her free from bondage, choose escape. There are other tits in the sea. Trust me.

Killers and madmen do not die. Until the grosses go down. And even then, there are replaced by even more menacing things, like Straight-to-Video monsters and late night Cinemax gore.

And we knew, if teens, rookie members of the sheriff’s department and teachers at your school nobody really liked started showing up dead, we could survive. We had our primers being shoved in our faces every day by either pimply faced video store managers or by that creepy Goth girl that worked at the multiplex ticket counter. We laughed at them, we shouted at the screen, but more importantly, we learned. Body counts were way down, as were unwanted teenage pregnancies (Coincidence?). Yup, we were a nation, a people, a unit that could survive any Nightmare on our Street, any Bloody Holiday, any Jim Varney movie (Not technically horror, but still bonechilling scenarios in their own right…how many places did Ernest really need to go?)

But somethings happening and I don’t like it. The horror movies we’ve come to watch and learn from, with their gratuitous limb separation and the retreaded 80’s hair metal music montages, are being replaced. And not by different genres or newer, more special effects laden CGI scary things. No, the horror movies we can handle are being outsourced. Now, the only way we can get scared is by the Japanese.

The country that changed the way we look at electronics, animation and tiny, intricately sliced raw fish is now changing the horror movie genre. Japanese horror films (or J-Horror, the term used by lazy people and those whose computer keyboards have no “A” or “P”) are everywhere. Their rise has been like the onset of a heart attack: quick, sudden, unexpected and all consuming. But like a heart attack, it’s killing us all. Because we don’t quite know how to survive a Japanese horror film yet.

SO far, the films have had a few things in common. Young albino children with black hair and a propensity for high pitch screaming. Set designers who ask their painters to “paint it like somebody smeared poo and vomit everywhere.” And protagonists who are, gulp, not dumb. That’s right. The main characters who are often besieged by some atmospheric dread are quick witted, with actual careers and hobbies that do not involve drinking late at night in the woods. Their scenarios of fear are brought on by demons, apparitions, and sometime by rage and anger. Rage and anger? I don’t think I know how to outrun that. Or shoot it. Or drown its’ head in a used toilet. Uh-oh.

Japanese horror films are scary because they don’t rely on special effects and gore. They actually freak us out by being entirely possible. And what’s worse, everybody dies in them. The people that do survive only wind up in a mental hospital the next time we see them.  I, when watching an American horror film, know that if Peggy, the new girl cheerleader in town, can survive, I can too. But it’s just damn freaky when the reporter, who puts it all together like a sexy Encyclopedia Brown, or the doctor quells the demon disease after much deliberation, still wind up on the wrong end of the survival stick,  I look for answers. Answers that will quell my raging distress (It might not be all distress…I had one of those new Taco Bell burritos with the nacho chip strips in them….Simple yet ingenious)

And I’ve been searching for the rules. I’ve been trying to find out how we can escape from contortionist demon kids with Oasis haircuts. They’re quick and seemingly everywhere. So far, I think they can be tricked utilizing liberal applications of InstaTan and trips to a Fantastic Sams. How to get them there? I’m still working on it, but they all seem to have deep interpersonal issues, so Dr. Phil’s teachings will inevitably be involved. As for floating apparitions that manifest themselves in hovering black clouds or strange clinging fog, I’m still beta testing a new aerosol. It is still going through governmental approval, but should be ready for Christmas.

Until these advances, we may just have to accept the fact that we will never crack the rules of survival when we are beset by the strange atmospheric terrors. It’s already claimed Buffy, Jennifer Connelly and the poor man’s Nicole Kidman. And it looks to be tightening its grip and doing worse things to Joan of Arcadia than the nimrods at CBS’s scheduling department ever could. The slashers may be gone, but the ghosts are here and we’re not ready. And it’s matter of time before we’re trapped in an industrial hallway and suddenly hear eerie string music, before being surrounded by specters of all sorts. And don’t even think about calling the Ghostbusters, silly.

I mean, they’re a movie. God, some people are so naïve and paranoid.



1. Mikey - October 14, 2006

Jim Varney was unequivocaly the best comedic actor of all time. Taking cheap shots at Ernest P. Worrell is something that I simply do not tolerate. He died before his time and the world has gone downhill since then.

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