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Japanese Horror and the Transnational Cinema of Sensations undertakes a critical reassessment of Japanese horror cinema by attending to its intermediality and transnational hybridity in relation to world horror cinema. Neither a conventional film history nor a thematic survey of Japanese horror cinema, this study offers a transnational analysis of selected films from new angles that shed light on previously ignored aspects of the genre, including sound design, framing techniques, and lighting, as well as the slow attack and long release times of J-horror’s slow-burn style, which have contributed significantly to the development of its dread-filled cinema of sensations.



1. Introduction

Brown looks back at the early beginnings of the “J-horror” genre before it became a globally recognized brand to underscore the movement’s transnational aspects. Undertaking a critical reassessment, Brown attends to J-horror’s transnational hybridity in relation to the larger networks of global cultural flows, including major and minor areas of influence, cross-fertilizations, and intermedial intersections with non-Japanese works of art, literature, folklore, and music. In addition to reconceiving Japanese horror by resituating it in relation to world horror cinema, Brown lays down the methodological groundwork for investigating J-horror’s aesthetics of “resonance” and the audiovisual techniques by which Japanese horror develops a cinema of sensations that fills viewers with atmospherically enhanced dread.
Steven T. Brown

2. Ambient Horror: From Sonic Palimpsests to Haptic Sonority in the Cinema of Kurosawa Kiyoshi

Brown explores how sound flows modulate affective and noncognitive responses to the ambient horror films of Kurosawa Kiyoshi. Hardly any research has been done on sound design in Japanese horror, yet it remains one of the most productive means by which J-horror distinguishes itself from other forms of horror. Through advanced spectral and surround field analysis and a careful consideration of elements such as the interrelations between noise and silence, the function of ambient drones and sonic palimpsests, and the status of the acousmatic voice, Brown illuminates how soundscapes contribute to the construction of horror as a space for what he calls “haptic sonority,” an intensive space where one does not so much hear sounds as one feels them in one’s body.
Steven T. Brown

3. Double Trouble: Doppelgängers in Japanese Horror

Taking into consideration cultural expressions of the double that have appeared in literature, art, folklore, and film from around the world, Brown focuses on the role of Japanese horror as a productive cultural medium for doubles—a topic that has received relatively little attention thus far in J-horror scholarship. Analyzed both in terms of its evocations of the uncanny and with respect to the ghostly effects of the cinematic apparatus itself (with particular reference to the complex framing techniques employed to help visualize the unstable dynamics between self and double), Brown investigates the figure of the doppelgänger primarily in relation to the J-horror films Bilocation (Bairokēshon; dir. Asato Mari, 2013), Doppelgänger (Dopperugengā; dir. Kurosawa Kiyoshi, 2003), and Box (dir. Miike Takashi, 2004).
Steven T. Brown

4. Cinema Fou: Surrealist Horror from Face of Another to Gozu

Brown analyzes a pair of Japanese surrealist horror films—Teshigahara Hiroshi’s Face of Another (Tanin no kao, 1966) and Miike Takashi’s Gozu (Gokudō kyōfu daigekijō: Gozu, 2003)—in relation to the transnational and intermedial flows of international surrealist artistic production. Rather than restricting the definition of surrealist cinema to the films made by members of the original Parisian Surrealist Group, Brown considers what connects directors of Japanese horror to earlier surrealist filmmakers along with the experimental filmmaking techniques and tropes that have been incorporated into J-horror films in often underappreciated ways.
Steven T. Brown

5. In the Wake of Artaud: Cinema of Cruelty in Audition and Oldboy

Brown tackles thorny debates in horror studies concerning the terms “torture porn” and “Asia Extreme.” In response to the shortcomings of the two terms, Brown develops the Artaudian concept of “cinema of cruelty” in relation to two exemplary revenge horror films—the Japanese horror Audition (Ōdishon; dir. Miike Takashi, 1999) and the Korean horror Oldboy (Oldeuboi; dir. Park Chan-wook, 2003)—each of which offers engagements with graphic violence but situates that violence in a way that eludes the conceptual restrictions of “torture porn” and “Asia Extreme.”
Steven T. Brown

6. Conclusion: Envelopes of Fear—The Temporality of Japanese Horror

Brown resituates the study’s findings in relation to questions of timing and temporality that are evoked by J-horror’s cinema of sensations. Taking into consideration the issue of timing understood not only as the duration of individual images and the durational relationships between and among images but also in terms of the concept of temporal envelopes with individual stages of attack, decay, sustain, and release, Brown reconceives how the slow attack and long release times of J-horror’s slow-burn style impact the affective dynamics of horror spectatorship.
Steven T. Brown


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