10 American Horror Films That Were Adapted From Japan (2023)

All it takes is one movie to start a trend. That's what happened with the English-language remake of Hideo Nakata's 1998 film The Ring. Gore Verbinski's 2002 localization was a major hit both critically and financially. And without that film, we would not have had the remake craze that swept through the 2000s.

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Horror was and still is the most commercially appealing genre to adapt. It's no wonder Hollywood was exploring all that East Asian horror had to offer. Including the 2002 remake ofThe Ring, here are nine other mainly American horror movies that were adapted from classic and modern Japanese cinema.


Dark Water (2002) / Dark Water (2005)

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Both Dark Water films follow the basic same story— a single mother going through a tough divorce moves into a run-down apartment with her young daughter. There they are haunted by the spirit of a dead child.

Hideo Nakata adapted his 2002 supernatural dramaDark Water from Kōji Suzuki's collection of short stories of the same name. Specifically from the piece "Floating Water", whichends quite differentlyfrom the film. In 2005, Brazilian directorWalter Salles made his Hollywood debut with Dark Water. Salles' version is based on Nakata's renditionrather than the source material.

Perfect Blue (1997) / Black Swan (2010)

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InPerfect Blue, a pop idol singer turned actor is tormented by a fanatical stalker. Meanwhile, in Black Swan,a twisted rivalry brews between two competitive prima ballerinas.

Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is not an official remake of the late Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue. They share striking similarities like themes and imagery, but they are ultimately two different films. In the past, Aronofsky has denied that Kon's debut inspired his movie. However, there is onescene in Black Swan that imitatesPerfect Blue almost to the letter, and that's the famous bathtub moment.How did he get away with that?Well, Aronofsky purchased the rights to Perfect Blue a decade before Black Swan came out.

Don't Look Up(1996) / Don't Look Up (2009)

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In both Hideo Nakata's Don't Look Up andthe 2009 remake directed by Fruit Chan, a film set is plagued by supernatural occurrences. Though in Chan's film, the backstory for the haunting is more intricate. Originally, Nakata made this movie only as a way to fund a documentary aboutJoseph Losey. The film was not a financial success, but it influenced Nakata's The Ringtwo years later. The director's 2015 movie Ghost Actress was promoted as a remake, but they share only surface similarities.

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The 2009Don't Look Up remake was mainly produced by Distant Horizon in South Africa and Hakuhodo DY Media Partners in Japan, but Reel Deal Entertainment in the U.S. had a part in the production too. Fruit Chan's Don't Look Up(also known as Shoot) was neither a financial nor a critical success.

Pulse (2001) / Pulse (2006)

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In Kiyoshi Kurosawa's heralded moviePulse (Kairo in Japan) as well as its 2009 English-language remake, everything starts with a shocking suicide among a group of friends. Then a number of disappearances across a city reveals that malevolent spirits are crossing over from the Internet realm to our world. Kurosawa's movie is a slow burn that conveys dread in a palpable way.

In the remake, the story is more straightforward and the scares are far less nuanced. ThePG-13-rated cyber spook tale spawned two more sequels that went straight to video. All three films were panned by critics.

One Missed Call (2003) / One Missed Call(2008)

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In Miike Takashi's One Missed Call (Chakushin Ari in Japan), Yoko is terrified after receiving a creepy voicemail... from herself. Three days later, the events of the voicemail play out verbatim, and Yoko dies. This is just the beginning, too, because others are getting similar messages. And at the source of these calls is a vengeance spirit. Takashi'sfilm— which is thought to be almost a parody of "J-horror" tropes— bore two sequels and a television spin-off.

The 2008 remake is more or less the same story. A woman named Beth suspects two friends' deaths have to do with bizarre voicemails they received days beforehand. The remake was not well received⁠— it's one of few films to have a 0% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) / The Grudge (2004)

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Ju-on: The Grudge was the third film in Takashi Shimizu's Ju-on franchise. It was preceded by two straight-to-video movies called Ju-on: The Curse andJu-on the Curse 2. The 2002 film was the first entry to go to theaters. Its success led to a 2004 remake, which was the first film produced by Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures. This version did well at the box office,leading to two more sequels. A reboot is slated for 2020.

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In both films,thechain of terror begins when someone unknowingly enters a haunted house in Nerima, Tokyo. Upon stepping foot inside, someone is cursed by the vengeful spirit Kayako.

Apartment 1303 (2007) / Apartment 1303 3D (2012)

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Apartment 1303 and its remake both concern a woman exploring the circumstances behind her sister's bizarre death. The more each woman looks into the history ofher sibling's apartment, the more they realize the unit is housing a malicious entity.

In 2o11, production began on an American-Canadian remake. Theresurgence in 3D was still going strong, so a special team from Hong Kong was hired for the movie. When Michael Taverna's film was released in 2012,it endured a scathing response. Critic Justin Chang was especially harsh, calling Apartment 1303 3D"inept and derivative."

Secret (1999) / The Secret (2007)

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Firstly, these two movies don't exactly fit the theme at hand here. We might think there is a great deal of American remakes of Japanese horror movies, but that's actually not the case. The original 1999 movie Secret (Himitsu in Japan) isnot of the horror persuasion. It's more of a drama with some fantastical elements. Secondly, the 2007 remake starring David Duchovny is produced by a French company. However, this English-language film has a chiefly American cast, and the story is morelike a thriller than the original.

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In Himitsu and The Secret, the soul of a man's recently departed wife is transferred into his daughter's body.

Godzilla (1954) / Godzilla (2014)

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People will find it hard to believe Godzillawas ever scary, but in 1954, thisradiatedmonstrosity terrified Japanese audiences. The very first Godzilla movie directed byIshirō Honda is openly regardedas commentary on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The titularkaijū's rampage mirrors those atrocities. Honda's concept was applying characteristics of an atomic bomb to a monster.

Production company Toho's iconic monster was the subject of two English-language remakes. The TriStar film has been lambasted since its release in 1998. As for Gareth Edwards' 2014 reinterpretation, Godzilla returns to his roots as a walking, unnatural disaster.

The Ring (1998) / The Ring (2002)

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This list would not be complete without the movie that arguably started it all. Hideo Nakata pioneered the "J-horror" trend with this seminal entry in 1998. In The Ring, Nakata introduced tropes that are for a fact still used in East Asian horror movies today. The 1998 film is, however, not the first adaptation ofKōji Suzuki's novel. Nakata notably streamlined the story, truncating the spectral antagonist's origin. The 2002 remake starring Naomi Watts followed suit and was more or less a faithful adaptation.

The 1998 and 2002 films each gave way to respective franchises. Nakata even went on to direct the first English-language sequel Ring Two.

NEXT:10 Scariest Japanese Movies To Never Watch Alone, Ranked

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