Blood Sisters

J-Horror Ghouls

“How does it feel to kill people?” (Mai Hosho, “Tomie:  Replay”)

Prominent pre-“Ringu” horror titles that foregrounded girls and women as victims included “Hausu” ("House," 1977), and “Shiryo no wana” (“Evil Dead Trap,” 1988) and its sequels.  Other, egregiously misogynist works of the late 1980s such as the “Za ginipiggu” (“Guinea Pig”) films established a context of butchery that culminated in the “Ooru naito rongu” (“All Night Long”) series of the 1990s.

All Nite Long, Evil Dead Trap
There is a Japanese term “ero-guro” (“eroguronansensu”) describing films and other media (particularly manga) that involve absurd – and often grotesque – erotica.  Influential films of this sort that arguably fall within the horror genre have included many bizarrely violent titles dating from Koji Wakamatsu’s work in the late 1960s that was apparently influenced by notorious American crime cases, culminating in the Japanese Underground cyberpunk cinema of the 1990s.  Films such as Kei Fujiwara’s gory “Organ” (1996) or Shojin Fukui’s “964 Pinocchio” (aka “Screams of Blasphemy,” 1991) and “Rubber’s Lover” (1997) involve violent deconstruction of the human being – both metaphoric and literal.  Katsuyu Matsumura’s “All Night Long” trilogy dating from 1992 embodies a nihilistic esthetic of pure destruction.  These ghastly films foreground misogynist violence that objectifies to the extent of literally equating women with garbage.
964 Pinocchio, Rubber's Lover
The exploitation films of directors such as Daisuke Yamanouchi (“Akai misshitsu heya:  Kindan no osama geemu,” aka “Red Room,” 1999; “Shojo jigoku ichi kyuu kyuu kyuu” aka “Girl Hell,” 1999; “Senketsu no Kuzuna:  Kichiku reipuhan o shinkan saseta shimai” aka “Blood Sisters,” 2000; “Kyoko vs. Yuki,” 2000), Tamakichi Anaru (“Niku daruma” aka “Tumbling Doll of Flesh,” 1998; “Satsu satsu ayame” aka “Suicide Dolls,” 1999; “Watashi no akai harawata hana” aka “Women’s Flesh,” 1999), Hisayasu Sato’s “Megyaku” (“Naked Blood,” 1995), Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s “Kogayaru-gui:  Oosaka terekura hen” (“Eat the Schoolgirl,” 1997) as well as Yuuri Sunohara’s “Zankoku-bi:  Onna harakiri” series (from 1990) or Izô Hashimoto’s “Shiroi kabe no kekkon” (“Guinea Pig:  Lucky Sky Diamond,” aka “Bloody Fragments on White Walls,” 1989) display themes of quasi-snuff dismemberment most notoriously associated with the “Guinea Pig” films.  Such titles represent the very antithesis of those given precedence in this essay and may serve (together with numerous other “pinku” exploitation titles fusing sex with violence toward women) as utterly negative examples of relevant genre themes that are horrifying displays of sadistic male domination and literal destruction of the female body.  One need look no further for more graphic support of film theory constructions of the sadistic patriarchal gaze.
Banquet of the Beasts, Baptism of Blood
Bizarre acts of bodily destruction continue in titles such as Kenichi Yoshihara’s “Senrei” (“Baptism of Blood,” 1996), Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s “Kichiku dai enkai” (“Banquet of the Beasts,” 1997) and Shugo Fujii’s “Iki-jigoku” (“Living Hell,” 2000), but are noteworthy in that their extremes of suffering are inflicted by women as well as on women.  Takahisa Zeze’s “Raigyo” (“The Woman in Black Underwear: Raigyo,” 1997) employs pervasive violence against the environment as the mise-en-scene for horrific counter-violence by the female protagonist.  A more thoughtful treatment of the symbolism of dismemberment, personal fragmentation and the shifting nature of personal relations is provided by Shinji Aoyama’s excellent “Enbamingu” (“EM Embalming,” 1999) in which Reiko Takashima plays an embalmer who embarks on a dangerous private investigation after a multiple-personality-disordered young woman (with Hitomi Miwa suitably cast in the role) mysteriously steals the head of a corpse.  The dangerously ephemeral and culturally constructed nature of female physical beauty receives horrific deconstruction in Katsuya Matsumura’s “Kirei?” (“The Terror of Beauty,” 2004) in which Yukiko Okamoto plays “Dr. Yôko Noguchi,” a narcissistically self-satisfied plastic surgeon who meets the female patient of her nightmares – a woman who not only desires to become as beautiful as her, but also possess all that she has!  Regrettably, the opportunity to critique attractiveness stereotypes is dissipated in an exercise that defines women’s desires by reference to patriarchal norms.