News: Japanese Studies

Before J-horror: Prewar and Postwar Japanese ‘Kaiki’ Cinema

Kaiki talkAlong with anime, manga, and video games, Japanese horror films of the past fifteen years have been one of the country’s most successful cultural exports. Pictures like The Ring, The Grudge, and Pulse frightened audiences worldwide and were turned into big-budget Hollywood remakes. But while the films that made up the “J-horror” boom quickly became the object of much international interest and study, the preceding seventy years of popular Japanese horror movie history remains largely unknown outside of Japan.

Come get into the Halloween spirit and learn about “kaiki” cinema from Mike Crandol, W&M alum and current University of Minnesota PhD candidate.  Mike will give a public lecture on Thursday, October 30th, from 5:00 – 6:30, in Blair 223.

This discussion will focus on what came before J-horror, and the dilemmas of applying the English-language generic category “horror” to the cinema of a non-English speaking culture. We will examine kaiki eiga or “weird/bizarre films” from the 1920s through the 1960s that represent a genre marked in part by a blending of kabuki stage traditions with the style and conventions of Hollywood horror. We will find out why some American and European horror films get labeled kaiki in Japan while others do not, what conspired to bring about the death of the kaiki genre in the 1970s, and what inspired its ghastly, partial resurrection in the guise of J-horror.

Mike graduated from W&M in 2007 with a double-major in East Asian Studies and English Literature.