Carnal Curses, Disfigured Dreams: Japanese Horror and Bizarre Cinema 1898-1949

Type: Books

Kagami Jigoku Kobayashi

Paperback, 144 pages

Carnal Curses, Disfigured Dreams presents an illustrated, annotated and indexed filmography of all pre-war and immediately post-war Japanese films in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction, and weird mystery, and is the first English-language book to do so.

Due to Japan’s rich tradition of ghost stories, heroic legends and folkloric hierarchy of demonic yokai, an unusually large percentage of films made in the country’s early years of film production were based on phantastic myths and supernaturally-driven narratives. By 1915, a new genre of ninjutsu (“secret combat techniques”) films emerged, with many narratives involving shape-shifting and magic, giving rise to Japanese cinema’s first wave of special-effects technicians. In the 1930s, low-budget exploitation companies such as Kyokuto and Zensho produced dozens of pulp horror movies, including a startling hybrid genre from Kyokuto which mixed samurai and robots. Zombies, vampires, mechanical men, mad scientists, monsters, killer apes, living statues, ghosts, demons – all the iconic figures of bizarre cinema can be found in Japan’s early film output, filtered through that country’s unique lens of culture and myth.

Carnal Curses, Disfigured Dreams lists over 500 films in a detailed, chronological filmography, includes over 30 woodblock print illustrations, reproduces 65 extremely rare film production photographs and posters – most of which have never been published before, even in Japan – and concludes with an index of all films referenced in the text.

Japanese Film Perspectives is a new series of historical studies based on new and original research, and anchored around never-before-seen photographic images.