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ASIAN FILM - Article
15:52 - 25th April 2013, by Calum Waddell

Ju-On: The Interview

NEO: What inspired you to create the Ju-On series?

Takashi Shimizu: I had tiny bits of an idea and I was very influenced by a whole range of movies and books. My idea for Ju-On also came from my own experiences, and what I feel scared by. Especially the things that would scare me as a kid – that is really what inspired it… I remember making the film and wondering, ‘what can I do to make it really scary?’ I remembered this Japanese dance group that would paint their naked bodies white and perform like that. It was very frightening to me, so I painted my ghosts white and also showed their faces.

NEO: Was it easier to get funding for the 2003 version of Ju-On after the success of such theatrical hits as Dark Water and Ringu?

T.S.: After these horror movies were released in Japan there was definitely an interest in horror cinema… but only Dark Water and the Ringu series were really big hits. After the success of Ringu we went out and did video versions of Ju-On. However, at that time there had been so many horror films made in Japan that these types of films were no longer a success. Making Ju-On (in 2003) was a challenge because people kept telling me, ‘this will not be a hit because horror films are not popular any more.’ Of course, we wanted a hit but the genre was not doing so well in Japan…

NEO: How would you say the Ju-On series compares to the Ringu films? They are often mentioned in the same breath by fans and critics alike…

T.S.: I would say that Ju-On is very different from Ringu. For example, we show lots of ghosts in the (Ju-On) films – to the point that sometimes the audience laughs, but I don’t mind that, because our film is very different. It was a big hit in Japan and I am very happy with it.

NEO: Like Ringu, however, the Ju-On films are very different from what we see in Hollywood – the terror does not come from gore or from lots of CGI effects…

T.S.: In my opinion you cannot make a scary effect using CGI and stuff like that. I know that Hideo Nakata is of the same opinion – although he did not show the face of his ghost in Ringu. I know he was against doing that. Of course, I showed the face of the ghost as much as I could in Ju-On (laughs).

NEO: Tell us a little bit about how the Ju-On saga begun, when you made two movies for television on a low budget…

T.S.: Yes, when I made the video versions of Ju-On, it was on a very low budget. I shot two parts at the same time in only nine days. At the time I had no idea that these would go on to comprise more movies, and I had no intention of turning the films into a series. Prior to these films I had only made some shorts, I had not made what I consider to be ‘a real movie’.

NEO: Will there be a Ju-On: The Grudge 3?

T.S.: Even before we were going to do the (Hollywood) remake there was talk of doing the second sequel in Japan. It has always been my intention to finish the Ju-On series in Japan. So I am writing the third one... and it is to be made there. I see Ju-On as being a trilogy.

NEO: What were some of the challenges of remaking your film in Hollywood?

T.S.: It is difficult to remake your own movie years later. Since the Japanese audience already knows of the cultural background of ghosts, and many of the scary elements in the original movie, I did not have to do so much explaining with the remake. The Japanese audience did not find Ju-On as complicated as some of the American viewers – so we (had) to explain the story a bit more…

NEO: Thanks for taking the time to talk to our readers about your work!

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