Colette Balmain’s Introduction to Japanese Horror Film has just been published. Looks like an essential book for anyone interested in the topic. I’m particularly interested, given some of the recent discussions on this website, on what Balmain has to say about cultural mythology and folk tales and how they are appropriated in horror film. Here’s the summary from Amazon:
This book is a major historical and cultural overview of an increasingly popular genre. Starting with the cultural phenomenon of Godzilla, it explores the evolution of Japanese horror from the 1950s through to contemporary classics of Japanese horror cinema such as "Ringu" and "Ju-On: The Grudge". Divided thematically, the book explores key motifs such as the vengeful virgin, the demonic child, the doomed lovers and the supernatural serial killer, situating them within traditional Japanese mythology and folk-tales. The book also considers the aesthetics of the Japanese horror film, and the mechanisms through which horror is expressed at a visceral level through the use of setting, lighting, music and mise-en-scene. It concludes by considering the impact of Japanese horror on contemporary American cinema by examining the remakes of "Ringu", "Dark Water" and "Ju-On: The Grudge". The emphasis is on accessibility, and whilst the book is primarily marketed towards film and media students, it will also be of interest to anyone interested in Japanese horror film, cultural mythology and folk-tales, cinematic aesthetics and film theory.It covers classics of Japanese horror film such as "Pitfall", "Tales of Ugetsu", "Kwaidan", "Onibaba", "Hellish Love" and "Empire of Desire" alongside less well-known cult films such as "Pulse", "St John’s Wort", "Infection" and "Living Hell: A Japanese Chainsaw Massacre". It includes analysis of the relationship between cultural mythology and the horror film. It explores the evolution of the erotic ghost story in the 1960s and 1970s. It examines the contemporary relationship between Japanese and American horror films.