7 more terrifying Japanese horror films

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Mar 26, 2021, 11:00 AM EDT (Updated)

Western horror can be unsettling, creepy, and downright horrifying, but sometimes you want a Japanese flick to really chill you to the bone. That was the premise behind our first list of excellent scary movies from the Land of the Rising Sun, which introduced you to some excellent Japanese horror movies that carried the torch for the genre.

But there are so many more out there to love that it’d be a crime to overlook the other, more modern selections that have slipped by unnoticed. From Junji Ito’s live-action adaptation of the manga Uzumaki to the disturbing short film collection Three Extremes, there’s plenty of J-horror goodness on this list to keep you awake for days. With Halloween around the corner, you might want to keep this selection of horror movies close at hand so you can terrify your party guests or your significant other.

There's plenty of gruesome sights to go around, after all. 

SPOILER WARNING! Minor spoilers for the films listed below!


Suicide Club (2001)

Originally released in Japan as Suicide Circle, this depressing horror movie follows the mystery behind why schoolgirls are committing mass suicide by jumping in front of oncoming trains. The suicides start with the train deaths, and worsen from there, as students begin jumping off of balconies and inciting a search and investigation for what’s known as a “suicide club.” Detectives work to figure out what’s going on behind these mass suicides and the secrets behind them. It’s a gory, gritty film with some pretty uncomfortable sequences, especially if you’re squeamish, but genuinely creepy and worth watching nevertheless. There's a bit of a surprise reveal, as well, when it comes to the stories behind these group suicides, which turns the entire story on its head.


Uzumaki (2000)

One of horror manga author Junji Ito's greatest works is Uzumaki, and the live-action film adaptation may be even stranger and creepier than the manga. It revolves around individuals who become obsessed with spirals, seeing them everywhere they go. It becomes a compulsion, enough to the point where a man learns of a spiral that can be found within his inner ear and takes a pair of scissors to get at it. If you think that's harrowing, then wait until you get to the part of the movie where you see one character contorted into a spiral himself, tongue and all. It's one of the greatest examples of body horror out there, and a shining beacon in the world of frightening Japanese flicks. Just make sure your stomach can handle it, before you decide to watch.

Dumplings (2004)

Dumplings was originally part of three short films released as Three Extremes, and was made into its own full-length movie of the same name later on. Director Fruit Chan created a truly horrifying feature in this story featuring Mrs. Li, a former actress who goes to see a local chef named Aunt Mei, whose special dumplings are famous around the country for their youth-restoring properties. But there’s a special ingredient to the dumplings that she’s serving. We won’t spoil what the special ingredient actually is, but just know it’s a pretty abhorrent thing that might put you off your dinner. But you’ll never forget this film, especially when you devour dumplings in the future.

Tomie Unlimited (2011)

The eighth installment of the long-running Tomie movie series is another film based on one of Junji Ito’s manga properties, and it’s one of the better adventures following a high school girl who makes people either commit suicide or go insane. She’s a terrifying creature who apparently can’t be killed, and in this 2011 movie Tomie grows a talking tumor on the side of her neck, gets killed by her “friend” at school, and even grows into an enormous head in someone’s living room. It’s astoundingly crazy, and a good warning to stay away from those “weird” girls you might come into contact with. You never know what’s going on with them. At least no one is stabbing their inner ear with scissors in this movie, though you wouldn't be able to put it past any one of the characters, to be honest.


The Complex (2013)

After a nursing student moves into a new apartment complex with her family, she starts noticing some weird things, like the sound of an alarm clock coming from her older next door neighbor, and weird scratching noises. It turns out this neighbor is hiding a terrible surprise, and her family keeps repeating the same activities over and over. There’s something decidedly sinister afoot, and nursing student Asuka is dealing with something that’s going to require a lot more intensive treatment than just your standard exorcism. What’s this apartment complex hiding, anyway? You don’t want to know.

Grotesque (2009)

Grotesque follows a young couple who end up kidnapped by a sadistic surgeon-like madman who subjects both the man and woman to medical torture for his own sexual satisfaction. It’s a lot like the Hostel films, or the terrifying games played by Jigsaw in the Saw movies, only turned up to 11 in some instances. It’s certainly not a movie you want to watch for even a moment if you’ve got a strong aversion to blood and gore, but for anyone looking for shock cinema at its finest, it’s got its charms, specifically in the character development department, if you can believe that.


Infection (2004)

This film, which follows an incident at an understaffed and particularly run-down hospital, managed to be the second-highest grossing film at the weekend box office during its debut. After giving a patient the wrong drug, which results in death, the corpse begins turning into a disgusting green goo. Not sure how to deal with this bizarre happening, the nursing staff and doctors try and figure out what’s wrong as one of the nurses begins dripping green goo from her ears and eyes as the infection spreads, with the entire hospital eventually falling to ruin while the infection source continues to be sussed out. If you’ve got a fear of hospitals, you’ll be especially frightened after this flick.