After seeing the absolutely terrifying trailer for The Grudge last weekend, and having unfortunately missed the screening of the original, Ju-On, when it was showing here, I’m curious as to learning more about J-horror. I’ve recently been watching a number of Japanese movies in general (Audition, Ringu, Suicide Club, to name a few) and I’d like to know more about the folkloric roots of J-horror, Japanese and American perspectives on the genre in both film and literature, a history of the genre, and what I should definitely make an effort to pick up at the video store (good movies, good directors, etc). Although I’m half Japanese I unfortunately don’t speak a word, and while I have some knowledge of Japanese supernatural folklore I don’t think I know near enough to have a working vocabulary with which to really enjoy some of these movies.
I can’t help you with the history aspect of your request, but I’ll throw out a recommendation for Dark Water. Not a great movie, but a nice atmospheric film.
Ju-on: The Grudge 2 is passable (rent it), but not as good as Ju-on: The Grudge.
Junk is a pretty good Japanese zombie flick. I liked it better than Versus, although I am probably in the minority with that.
Evil Dead Trap is also pretty good for a b-grade Saturday Matinee type film.
For a suspensful crime thriller, I highly recommend Angel Dust. Not exacly “J-horror” ala Ju-on or Dark Water, but effective nonetheless. I give this movie 5 stars.