For many J-Horror began with the investigation into a certain cursed video tape, and the cycle of death and tragedy that followed a viewing of it. Although Hideo Nakata’s low budget Ring (1998) exposed the limitations of modern technology through the incursion of the supernatural, it overflowed with the signifiers of past traditions. Nakata was essentially telling a very old story, and it was only correct that the narrative should have the cautionary quality of a fable or fairy tale. For several years the long haired avenging ghost girl was the trans-national symbol most associated with the Japanese film industry, but few horror films produced during this period offered anything new or original. Their success in the west was almost certainly due to a carefully constructed and self-conscious depiction of a Japanese culture that appealed to a western conception. By the year 2000 I for one was sick to the back teeth of long haired ghost girls, and if derivative Japanese product wasn’t enough, even South Korea got in on the act with their own brand of imitative celluloid waste. With the bubble well and truly burst on this form of cultural expression it’s easier to look back now and see that Higuchinsky’s peculiar feature film debut Uzumaki was one of the most distinctive and original productions of this cycle.
© Shaun Anderson 2011
First published in an abridged form on Lone Wolves and Hidden Dragons