Some of the creepiest Supernatural Horror Movies are made in Japan, and for me the top two mainstream best series have to be Tomie and Ju-on with the latter being the subject of this “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update in honor of the new Grudge film hitting cinemas this very month here in the USA! For those who are wondering, the Ju-on films here in the US are remade and called The Grudge and both series are very popular in their home countries, and I for one cannot wait to see what this new film in the series has to offer us American Horror fans. But for this update we will only be focusing on the film Ju-on and the Dark Horse Manga releases based on it! So if you’re ready, let’s travel to Japan and enter a cursed house and enter the creepy world of Ju-on.
We must first learn about Kayako Saeki, the supernatural ghost from the Ju-on movies and her ways of killing off humans dumb enough to cross her path. Kayako Saeki was a wife and mother who was murdered by her husband in their home, and her now vengeful spirit haunts all those foolish enough to enter the house where the killing took place. Kayako has many ways of dealing death to those she has cursed that include using her look to strike fear in the hearts of those who gaze upon her. She also can use the spirit of her deceased son as well as a black cat to lure people into her cold grip. She can also play mind games and cause her victims to see things. Kayako is very cold blooded and does not think twice about ending a human life. She is pure supernatural and for the most part an evil spirit who has no emotions and no remorse, she also uses her weird noises and appearance to terrify her human targets. Kayako Saeki is a spirit that seems to not have a weakness and her power comes from the house she was killed in as well as her sadness and want for revenge. I would say that Kayako Saeki could be one of the most dangerous killers we have looked at here on a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update only rivaled by maybe the likes of Godzilla, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. So as you can see, Kayako Saeki is super dangerous and one heck of a movie villain who while sinister also has a touch of sadness to her.
So as you can see, Kayako Saeki is one evil spirit that appears can not be stopped! But now that we have taken a look at the killer, we should now take a look at the movie she is from. I want to say that I will be taking the film’s write up from out friends at IMDB and it will be followed by my write up about the film’s production as well as my thoughts on it. So if you are ready, let’s enter the cursed home of Kayako Saeki and see what Ju-On is all about.
“In Japan, when the volunteer social assistant Rika Nishina is assigned to visit a family, she is cursed and chased by two revengeful fiends: Kayako, a woman brutally murdered by her husband and her son Toshio. Each person that lives in or visits the haunted house is murdered or disappears.”
Director Takashi Shimizu created a Horror Movie series in Japan that started with the direct to video film “Katasumi and 4444444444” in 1998 and was followed by “Ju-On: The Curse” in 2000 that as well went direct to video as did its sequel “Ju-On: The Curse 2” that was also released in 2000. In 2002, the series would get its first theatrical release with “Ju-on: The Grudge” and this would set the course for this highly popular series as the film was a success at the Japanese box office as well as had a small US run that did pretty well. And like any good Horror Movie, this loaded up on sequels that included “Ju-On: The Grudge 2” released in 2003 and in 2009 both “Ju-On: Black Ghost” & “Ju-On: White Ghost” were unleashed. In 2014 the next film “Ju-On: The Beginning Of The End” was released with the 2015 film “Ju-On: The Final Curse” following. And so far the final film in the original series, “Sadako vs. Kayako” that pitted our series main star Kayako against the evil spirit Sadako from the Ringu series. And then in America a remake series was made that started in 2004 with “The Grudge” that sparked two sequels, and this year (2020) a reboot has been released. When this film was released in 2002, it did well at the Japanese Box Office and brought in $500 million yen and even did over $3 million worldwide! The year it was released, it was joined by such other Horror Films as The Ring, 28 Days Later, Cabin Fever, Halloween: Resurrection, Red Dragon, Spliced, Wishmaster: The Prophecy and Hellraiser: Hellseeker to name a few. So as you can see, this series is very important to the history of foreign Horror and will go down as one of the better series of supernatural Japanese Horror Movies.
I first saw Ju-on on DVD when Lions Gate released it to try and cash in on the popularity of the American remake. I was home alone when I popped the DVD in and I can remember outside the sky was dark as rain poured down and could be heard hitting the widows as the wind was blowing hard. I remember pouring myself a big glass of soda and turning off all the lights to make the room even darker. This atmosphere made the film’s creepy moments even more creepy, and the scenes when Kayako would crawl down the stairs really did send shivers down my spine and my skin crawl! And at that moment I 100% realized that the original version was the better version and that the US remake tried to capture the spooky nature of the Japanese film but could not lock it fully. I first saw The Grudge, and while it was good, it paled in the comparison to Ju-on! I have watched the film a few times, and each time I find myself enjoying it more and more, this film is the perfect mix of Haunted House and Supernatural Horror and is a must see for fans who love Japanese Horror. Oh and over the years I have had many friends of mine who are into Horror that say this is one of their Top 20 Favorite foreign Horror Flicks. If you have never seen Ju-On, do yourself a favor and check it out.
So as you can see, this film and character Kayako Saeki are very iconic in the world of Horror Movies as they have left their creepy mark on it. Now it’s time to take a look at the Manga inspired by it. So I need to remind you all that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star system and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Amazon for having these books in stock and making this update possible. So if you are ready, let’s enter this cursed house and see what Kayako have in store for us.
Ju-On # 1 ***
Released in 2006 Cover Price $9.95 Dark Horse # 1 of 2
Kayako Saeki is a woman who finds herself being stabbed to death by her husband who later turns his sights to his young son as well. This crime was so brutal it sends shivers down the spines of those who walk past the home it took place in years later. Mizuho is a young lady whose father was a realtor who was brutally murdered after selling the old Saeki house, and worse, the people who bought the house is Tsuyoshi, the grieving girl’s new boyfriend and his family! The delivery guys who deliver the family’s belongings even have an accident and die horribly thanks to the spirit of the murdered young boy of the house. The family also had to hire a tutor for daughter Kanna, who is a mean spirited young woman who seems to get joy in being mean to her mother and bothering her brother, but when the family all have to rush out of the house for errands, the tutor is left in the house alone and she becomes the next to meet her maker thanks to the ghosts. As Mizuho and Tsuyoshi are at baseball practice, sister Kanna is at the park with her friend and she becomes the next victim as a pack of wild cats shred her and even remove her bottom jaw, and the young girl before dying walks home and dies in front of her mother. Meanwhile something strange is going on as Tsuyoshi seems to be stuck in the school and Mizuho who is waiting for him is growing more and more worried. Meanwhile the father is at work and remembers back to when he was told the house he just moved his family into has a bad vibe and almost a curse, and after thinking about what he was told he heads home. Meanwhile the ghost of the murdered son is now at the school, and after Mizuho finds and frees Tsuyoshi from the locked baseball clubhouse, the ghost child stars to follow them, and lucky for the teens Mizuho’s psychic aunt Kyoko appears and the spirit leaves…but she warns her niece and Tsuyoshi that they need to get away as fast as they can. Kyoko does what she can and faces Kayako Saeki who in turn kills the aunt and then also possesses Tsuyoshi who then beats Mizuho to death with a baseball bat. Meanwhile back at the house, the father arrives to find his own wife cutting herself up causing her death, and he himself is left with nothing but a house that holds a grudge.
Ju-On is a great Horror Manga read that tells a twisted story of a family who buys a new home, and they and those who are around them being brutally killed by the spirits of a mom and her son that were murdered in the house they have bought! Mizuho is the main character, and she is a sweet young woman who loves her boyfriend as he and his family has been there for her after the killing of her father. She is very loyal to those she loves and she also is fearless as she wants to save all those she can when the bad starts going down. And because she comes off as such a normal and loving person, her brutal killing makes a big impact on me the reader. Her boyfriend Tsuyoshi is a hotheaded young man, but clearly cares about his girlfriend and her family and stands his ground to protect her from evil, but sadly he is also the one used to possess and forced to bash his love to death with a bat! The other character I really liked in this manga was Aunt Kyoko, who can see dead people and talk to them and tried to warn Tsuyoshi’s family not to move into that house, and even gives her own life to try and save that of her niece. The rest of the characters do a great job of pushing the story along and adding a little of all types of personalities to the story. Kayako Saeki and her son are pretty evil and yet sad spirits as they are part of a curse that they seem to want to escape from, but when they kill, they kill very brutally and painfully. This manga is packed with a few creepy scares of Kayako Saeki lurking in places and does have lots of blood and gore with one of my favorite kills being the death of Mizuho as the panels of blood, her broken body and the bloody bat is pretty great Horror Comic stuff. The over all creepy feel of this manga is high, and I read this during the fall around Halloween and it helped add to my season. The cover for this manga is pretty cool and has that Japanese horror look, the interior art is pretty great if you like the manga style. Over all this is a solid read and while it lacks some of the more creepy elements of the film, this takes a great look at the cursed house and the spirits that live in it. So let’s see what the second manga has in store for us!
Ju-On # 2 **1/2
Released in 2006 Cover Price $9.95 Dark Horse # 2 of 2
Years have passed and horror actress Kyoko Harase is appearing on the TV Show hosted by Tomoka Miura. They go to the cursed house to talk about the murders and the curse surrounding it. Kyoko is a picks up on the bad vibes of the house once she is near it, but besides a loud noise picked up on the boom microphone, there’s nothing. After the shoot Kyoko and her boyfriend are driving and talking about her acting career as well as their up coming child! Meanwhile the host Tomoka and her boyfriend find themselves the victim of the curse, and they are hung from their ceiling and other TV Crew members find themselves being targeted for death. While driving Kyoko’s boyfriend loses control of the car, thanks to the ghost child that leaves him in bad shape at the hospital and Kyoko also lose her unborn baby…or does she. Things get worse for Kyoko when her mother as well passes away due to the curse, he boyfriend finally awakens from his coma and seems off, she gets the news that the baby is going to be alright and the TV Show producer visits her and informs her about the deaths of those who filmed the show. And after hearing all this, she has a vision of the murders in the house and this sparks her to go into labor…and she gives birth to the evil Kayako Saeki who kills all the doctors and everyone around.
In this second installment a pregnant horror film actress who is about to walk away from acting takes a gig on a TV Show about haunted locations and makes the mistake of entering the old Saeki house and cursing not only herself but also those close to her. The plot of an actress who is known for her horror movie performances is pretty cool when you take a cursed trip with her as she not only has to deal with the evils of Kayako Saeki but also that of her own life and choices. Kyoko Harase really is a good character and as a reader I found myself cheering for her to make it through and survive the curse. The TV production team befriend the actress, but sadly all pay the price of entering the Saeki house with their lives. And her boyfriend is a goof who loses control of their car while driving fast and crashes causing himself to go into a coma and later just wake up to be killed by the curse. Kayako Saeki once more is evil and seems to get more enjoyment in this second manga as she kills with no remorse and targets anyone in her sight. The issue has some great kills and does deliver blood and some gore with the issue’s best death being the murder of the reporter and her boyfriend as their hanging bodies are pretty creepy in panels. I would say that I very much did enjoy this issue, but did find it a little less creepy than the first and at times kind of felt like it was filled with lots of flashback filler and storylines that go nowhere like the fact all of Kyoko Harase’s family only have females when having a baby. The cover for this issue is pretty great and does capture the mood of Ju-On, and the interior art is solid and your typical manga style. Over all if you like the Ju-On movie series, like Japanese horror or just want to check out a creepy manga series I would say give these two a read as I think you might enjoy them. Check out the art below as I think it’s my favorite piece of art from it.
For me, both the movie and manga series of Ju-On are solid and show that creepy cursed ghosts have always been scary. I also hope that this update helped set the mood for you to go see the newest Grudge movie at your local cinema, as if you are like me I always go to the theater to watch the newest Horror Movie. But for our next update we are leaving behind the cursed house of Kayako Saeki and heading to space as we travel with the crew of the Enterprise to search for Spock…that’s right I will be covering Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and the DC Comics adaptation. So until next time avoid cursed houses, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Oh and remember to bring a flashlight for the next update as who knows were we will find Spock.