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The Best Japanese Horror Movies

From folk tales to body horror to monster movies, Japan’s cinema finds new ways to thrill and disturb audiences. Japanese horror movies got a big leg-up in the 1950s and 1960s with Ugetsu and Kwaidan, before spinning heads over time with transgressive cult works (Tetsuo: The Ironman), comedic takes (Hausu, One Cut of the Dead), and crossover hits (Ringu, Audition). And we’d be remiss to not include at least the original kaiju movie, Godzilla. It was created in response to nuclear oblivion, and creating art to process real trauma is one of the core values of horror.

And now we’ve gathered every Japanese horror movie with a Fresh rating and ranked them by Tomatometer, creating your guide to the best Japanese horror movies of all time.


#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 104680%
Critics Consensus: Brainy and bloody in equal measure, One Cut of the Dead reanimates the moribund zombie genre with a refreshing blend of formal daring and clever satire.
Synopsis: Real zombies attack a hack director and a film crew who are shooting a low budget zombie film in an... [More]
Directed By: Shinichiro Ueda

#2

The Ring (1998)
98%

#2
Adjusted Score: 100010%
Critics Consensus: Ringu combines supernatural elements with anxieties about modern technology in a truly frightening and unnerving way.
Synopsis: When her niece is found dead along with three friends after viewing a supposedly cursed videotape, reporter Reiko Asakawa (Nanako... [More]
Directed By: Hideo Nakata

#3

Godzilla (1954)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 103254%
Critics Consensus: More than straight monster-movie fare, Gojira offers potent, sobering postwar commentary.
Synopsis: A fire-breathing behemoth terrorizes Japan after an atomic bomb awakens it from its centuries-old sleep.... [More]
Directed By: Ishirô Honda

#4

Cure (1997)
94%

#4
Adjusted Score: 97908%
Critics Consensus: Mesmerizing and psychologically intriguing.
Synopsis: "Cure" is part atmospheric crime film and part philosophical meditation. Detective Takabe (Koji Yakusho) is tracking a series of identical... [More]
Directed By: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

#5

Kwaidan (1964)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 95737%
Critics Consensus: Exquisitely designed and fastidiously ornate, Masaki Kobayashi's ambitious anthology operates less as a frightening example of horror and more as a meditative tribute to Japanese folklore.
Synopsis: Taking its title from an archaic Japanese word meaning "ghost story," this anthology adapts four folk tales. A penniless samurai... [More]
Directed By: Masaki Kobayashi

#6

House (1977)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 95153%
Critics Consensus: House is a gleefully demented collage of grand guginol guffaws and bizarre sequences.
Synopsis: In an effort to avoid spending time with her father and his creepy new lover, young Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) resolves... [More]
Directed By: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi

#7

Shin Godzilla (2016)
86%

#7
Adjusted Score: 88791%
Critics Consensus: Godzilla Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi -- and altogether entertaining -- return to the monster's classic creature-feature roots.
Synopsis: A mysterious monster emerges from Tokyo Bay and wreaks havoc upon Japan.... [More]

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 87655%
Critics Consensus: This anthology contains brutal, powerful horror stories by three of Asia's top directors.
Synopsis: Stories revolve around a witch doctor, a filmmaker (Lee Byung-hun) and a resentful extra, and a novelist and her twin... [More]

#9

Audition (1999)
83%

#9
Adjusted Score: 86752%
Critics Consensus: An audacious, unsettling Japanese horror film from director Takashi Miike, Audition entertains as both a grisly shocker and a psychological drama.
Synopsis: This disturbing Japanese thriller follows Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a widower who decides to start dating again. Aided by a film-producer... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#10

Pulse (2001)
76%

#10
Adjusted Score: 77285%
Critics Consensus: A sinister spine-tingling techno-thriller whose artistry lies in the power of suggestion rather than a barrage of blood and guts or horror shop special effects.
Synopsis: After college student Taguchi (Kenji Mizuhashi) commits suicide, a number of young adults living in Tokyo witness terrifying visions transferred... [More]
Directed By: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

#11

Ugetsu (1953)
100%

#11
Adjusted Score: 103755%
Critics Consensus: With its thought-provoking themes, rich atmosphere, and brilliant direction, Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu monogatari is a towering classic of world cinema.
Synopsis: In 16th century Japan, peasants Genjuro (Masayuki Mori) and Tobei (Sakae Ozawa) sell their earthenware pots to a group of... [More]
Directed By: Kenji Mizoguchi

#12

Blind Beast (1969)
100%

#12
Adjusted Score: 100254%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With the help of his own mother (Noriko Sengoku), sightless sculptor Michio (Eiji Funakoshi) abducts gorgeous model Aki (Mako Midori)... [More]
Directed By: Yasuzo Masumura

#13

Wild Zero (2000)
100%

#13
Adjusted Score: 27541%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ace saves his heroes from alien invaders that turn people into zombies.... [More]
Directed By: Tetsuro Takeuchi

#14
Adjusted Score: 94041%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Teruo Ishii

#15

Evil Dead Trap (1988)
100%

#15
Adjusted Score: 50506%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A talk-show hostess (Miyuki Ono) and her crew investigate when she receives a graphic snuff video.... [More]
Directed By: Toshiharu Ikeda

#16

Kuroneko (1968)
96%

#16
Adjusted Score: 98525%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this ghost story based on a folk tale of feudal Japan, a group of samurai mercenaries led by Raiko... [More]
Directed By: Kaneto Shindô

#17

Tag (2015)
92%

#17
Adjusted Score: 62519%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A woman is cast adrift into an increasingly bizarre set of alternate realities in which each scenario ends in bloody... [More]
Directed By: Sion Sono

#18

Onibaba (1964)
90%

#18
Adjusted Score: 91494%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: While her son, Kichi, is away at war, a woman (Nobuko Otowa) and her daughter-in-law (Jitsuko Yoshimura) survive by killing... [More]
Directed By: Kaneto Shindô

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 82741%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A "metal fetishist" (Shin'ya Tsukamoto), driven mad by the maggots wriggling in the wound he's made to embed metal into... [More]
Directed By: Shin'ya Tsukamoto

#20

Dark Water (2002)
84%

#20
Adjusted Score: 62110%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this moody Japanese horror film, newly-single mom Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) is enduring a bitter divorce and struggling to... [More]
Directed By: Hideo Nakata

#21

Tokyo Ghoul (2017)
82%

#21
Adjusted Score: 81631%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A college student is attacked by a ghoul, a being that feeds on human flesh. He later receives an organ... [More]
Directed By: Kentarô Hagiwara

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 40641%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A vengeful policewoman (Eihi Shiina) battles an army of cyborg creatures that showcase horrific mutations.... [More]
Directed By: Yoshihiro Nishimura

#23

Confessions (2010)
81%

#23
Adjusted Score: 58119%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A grieving mother turns into a cold-blooded avenger to pay back the people responsible for her daughter's death.... [More]
Directed By: Tetsuya Nakashima

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 15947%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a Japanese house, a vengeful spirit goes after one person after another, each suffering a horrible death.... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Shimizu

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 48008%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Hauntings occur after a Japanese peasant woman (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) conspires with her young lover (Tatsuya Fuji) to kill her older... [More]
Directed By: Nagisa Ôshima

#26

Death Note (2006)
78%

#26
Adjusted Score: 32143%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is a normal, undistinguished college student -- that is, until he discovers an odd notebook lying... [More]
Directed By: Shusuke Kaneko

#27

Versus (2000)
75%

#27
Adjusted Score: 55054%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An escaped prisoner (Tak Sakaguchi) and a mysterious young woman (Chieko Misaka) face an onslaught of indestructible undead fighters in... [More]
Directed By: Ryûhei Kitamura

#28

Cold Fish (2010)
75%

#28
Adjusted Score: 75076%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The passive owner of a fish store becomes entangled with a murderous couple and implicated in their gruesome crimes.... [More]
Directed By: Sion Sono

#29

Gozu (2003)
72%

#29
Adjusted Score: 73272%
Critics Consensus: Miike continues his run of compellingly bizarre flicks.
Synopsis: Chaos ensues when a yakuza boss orders a young gangster (Hideki Sone) to kill an insane colleague (Shô Aikawa).... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#30

Ju-on: The Curse (2000)
64%

#30
Adjusted Score: 41159%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a jealous rage, a man kills his wife and son in their home, and everyone who visits falls prey... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Shimizu

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 29663%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Japanese teenager (Kazue Fukiishi) runs away to Tokyo to join a weird Internet cult whose leader (Tsugumi) hires out... [More]
Directed By: Sion Sono

#32

Visitor Q (2001)
64%

#32
Adjusted Score: 29240%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A stranger (Kazushi Watanabe) befriends a family comprising a sexually deviant father (Kenichi Endo), an abused mother (Shungiku Uchida), a... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#33

Infection (2004)
60%

#33
Adjusted Score: 11358%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A mysterious illness strikes hospital employees involved in the cover-up of a patient's death.... [More]
Directed By: Masayuki Ochiai

#34

Uzumaki (2000)
59%

#34
Adjusted Score: 59240%
Critics Consensus: Uzumaki uses its creepy, David Lynch-inspired atmospherics to effectively build a sense of dread, but ultimately fails to do anything with it.
Synopsis: Kirie (Eriko Hatsune) and Shuichi (Fhi Fan) are friends in a small town who notice that Shuichi's father, Toshio (Ren... [More]
Directed By: Higuchinsky

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 57831%
Critics Consensus: The film grows more repetitive as it goes on, and as a result, the scares lessen.
Synopsis: When a woman was brutally murdered by her husband in her house, she placed a Ju-on, or "curse grudge," on... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Shimizu

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 50126%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After watching a cursed videotape, Natsumi has only two days before she will be killed by demonic entity Sadako. Her... [More]
Directed By: Kôji Shiraishi

#37

One Missed Call (2004)
44%

#37
Adjusted Score: 44023%
Critics Consensus: One Missed Call has a few interesting ideas and benefits from director Takashi Miike's eye, but is ultimately too unoriginal to recommend.
Synopsis: Yumi (Kou Shibasaki) tries to assuage the fears of a friend, Yoko (Anna Nagata), who has received a disturbing voice... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#38

Marebito (2004)
36%

#38
Adjusted Score: 36061%
Critics Consensus: The scares are lacking in this J-horror flick, and the plot soon turns half-baked.
Synopsis: A cameraman (Shin'ya Tsukamoto) who is obsessed with fear brings a blood-drinking woman (Tomomi Miyashita) back from a nether world... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Shimizu

#39

Izo (2004)
33%

#39
Adjusted Score: 7494%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A vengeful samurai (Kazuya Nakayama) comes back from the dead to wreak bloody havoc.... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#40

Sadako (2019)
23%

#40
Adjusted Score: 23448%
Critics Consensus: Sadako sees a once-terrifying franchise staggering limply to the finish with a rote final chapter that rehashes previous chapters to diminishing returns.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: