Weird Japanese films

by Mighty_Emperor | created - 28 Sep 2011 | updated - 9 months ago | Public

A list of weird Japanese films, if you are looking for the more violent films, then see the torture porn list.

I span the New Japanese Gore films off into their own list, as it was a phenomena well worth a more detailed look, and see also the second half of my Asian zombie films list (and the more exploitationy end of my period films list) and there also plenty of weird giant monster and ninja films.

Comments: As I don't have a Facebook account I cannot interact with the new comments system, so have switched it off. I will start a thread on the message board and link it in here shortly.

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1. Warning from Space (1956)

Unrated | 87 min | Sci-Fi

UFOs are seen around Tokyo. Because they look like giant starfish the aliens cannot approach us without creating panic. Hence one of them sacrifices itself and takes the form of a popular ... See full summary »

Director: Kôji Shima | Stars: Keizô Kawasaki, Toyomi Karita, Bin Yagisawa, Shôzô Nanbu

Votes: 661

Here for the thumbnail, the list begins below:

One of the earliest horror films, along with Shinin no Sosei (which is not listed here), and they were both some of the earliest Japanese films.

3. Gôketsu Jiraiya (1921)

21 min | Short, Action

The story of Jiraiya, a legendary ninja with great powers who set off on a adventure.

Director: Shôzô Makino | Stars: Matsunosuke Onoe, Suminojo Ichikawa, Kijaku Ôtani, Chosei Kataoka

Votes: 113

Jiraiya is a ninja with supernatural powers, which include disappearing and turning himself into a frog. This means the film is odder than other period films of the time but the lack of translated intertitles makes it a bit tricky to follow the story.

Public domain, get from the Internet Archive - the vast majority of Japanese films were lost by the end of WWII, so it is always a treat to find the bits that managed to make it through.

4. Tômei ningen (1954)

70 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A car strikes an unseen object; blood spreads from an invisible source which becomes visible as the bleeding man dies. He carries with him a suicide note dedicated to his only friend, who ... See full summary »

Director: Motoyoshi Oda | Stars: Seizaburô Kawazu, Miki Sanjô, Minoru Takada, Yoshio Tsuchiya

Votes: 56

5. Jû jin yuki otoko (1955)

94 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A yeti terrorizes people on top of Mount Fuji.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Akira Takarada, Akemi Negishi, Momoko Kôchi, Nobuo Nakamura

Votes: 126

6. Warning from Space (1956)

Unrated | 87 min | Sci-Fi

UFOs are seen around Tokyo. Because they look like giant starfish the aliens cannot approach us without creating panic. Hence one of them sacrifices itself and takes the form of a popular ... See full summary »

Director: Kôji Shima | Stars: Keizô Kawasaki, Toyomi Karita, Bin Yagisawa, Shôzô Nanbu

Votes: 661

aka Warning From Space

Film is public domain

7. Madame White Snake (1956)

103 min | Romance, Fantasy

Lavish Japanese-Chinese coproduction based on an ancient Chinese legend about a man who falls in love with a snake goddess in human form.

Director: Shirô Toyoda | Stars: Ryô Ikebe, Shirley Yamaguchi, Kaoru Yachigusa, Kichijirô Ueda

Votes: 43

8. Kyûketsu-ga (1956)

89 min | Horror, Thriller

The story of a professional nude model stalked by a bizarre, unknown man wearing a hideous mask.

Director: Nobuo Nakagawa | Stars: Ryô Ikebe, Asami Kuji, Ichirô Arishima, Akio Kobori

Votes: 15

9. The Mysterians (1957)

TV-Y7 | 85 min | Action, Family, Sci-Fi

Aliens arrive on Earth and ask permission to be given a certain tract of land for their people to live on. But when they are discovered to be invaders, responsible for the giant robot that ... See full summary »

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa, Momoko Kôchi, Akihiko Hirata

Votes: 1,097 | Gross: $0.98M

aka The Mysterians

10. The Depths (1957)

66 min | Horror

A blind masseur visits a samurai to request the return of a loan. The samurai kills him in anger, then has his servant dump the body in the Kasane swamp. However, the ghost of the masseur ... See full summary »

Director: Nobuo Nakagawa | Stars: Katsuko Wakasugi, Takashi Wada, Noriko Kitazawa, Tetsurô Tanba

Votes: 162

11. Sûpâ jaiantsu (1957)

49 min | Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure

The 1st film in the Super Giant movie series, in which the title hero saves the world from foreign terrorsts threatening Japan with a nuclear attack (Part 1 of 2)

Director: Teruo Ishii | Stars: Ken Utsui, Junko Ikeuchi, Minoru Takada, Shôji Nakayama

Votes: 15

14. Sûpâ jaiantsu - Jinkô eisei to jinrui no hametsu (1957)

40 min | Short, Sci-Fi, Action

The 5th Super Giant film, in which he seeks to save hostages from a nazi-like group operating from a satellite in space. (Part 1 of 2)

Director: Teruo Ishii | Stars: Ken Utsui, Utako Mitsuya, Hiroshi Hayashi, Teruhisa Ikeda

Votes: 14

15. The H-Man (1958)

Approved | 79 min | Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi

When a narcotics deal goes sour and a suspect disappears, leaving only his clothes, Tokyo police question his wife and stake out the nightclub where she works. His disappearance stumps the ... See full summary »

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Yumi Shirakawa, Kenji Sahara, Akihiko Hirata, Eitarô Ozawa

Votes: 934

aka The H-Man

16. Black Cat Mansion (1958)

69 min | Drama, Horror

The descendant of the servant of a cruel and vicious samurai returns to the town where she was born, only to find that a cat who is possessed by the spirits of those murdered by the samurai is trying to kill her.

Director: Nobuo Nakagawa | Stars: Toshio Hosokawa, Yuriko Ejima, Takashi Wada, Ryûzaburô Nakamura

Votes: 216

17. Battle in Outer Space (1959)

90 min | Sci-Fi

The nations of the Earth unite in a common cause to fight off an invader from outer space.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Ryô Ikebe, Kyôko Anzai, Minoru Takada, Koreya Senda

Votes: 816

aka Battle in Outer Space

18. Nippon tanjô (1959)

112 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

The legend of the birth of Shintoism. In Fourth Century Japan, the Emperor Keikoh's son Ouso expects to succeed his father on the throne, but Otomo, the Emperor's vassal, prefers Ouso's ... See full summary »

Director: Hiroshi Inagaki | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yôko Tsukasa, Akihiko Hirata, Kyôko Kagawa

Votes: 176

19. Songoku: The Road to the West (1959)

98 min | Fantasy

The mythical adventures of the legendary Chinese trickster Monkey, who must outwit a variety of wily demons who stand in the way of him and his fellow Buddhist travelers. Though portrayed ... See full summary »

Director: Kajirô Yamamoto | Stars: Norihei Miki, Fukutarô Ichikawa, Nobuo Chiba, Reiko Dan

Votes: 15

20. Jigoku (1960)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama, Horror

A group of sinners involved in interconnected tales of murder, revenge, deceit and adultery all meet at the Gates of Hell.

Director: Nobuo Nakagawa | Stars: Shigeru Amachi, Utako Mitsuya, Yôichi Numata, Hiroshi Hayashi

Votes: 2,678

21. The Human Vapor (1960)

Not Rated | 81 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

A librarian is subject to a scientific experiment which goes wrong and transforms him into 'The Human Vapour'. He uses his new ability to rob banks to fund the career of his girlfriend, a ... See full summary »

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Tatsuya Mihashi, Kaoru Yachigusa, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Keiko Sata

Votes: 269

22. Densô ningen (1960)

85 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Men are being murdered by a psycho called "The Telegian," who uses a matter-transmitting device to locate his victims.

Director: Jun Fukuda | Stars: Kôji Tsuruta, Yumi Shirakawa, Seizaburô Kawazu, Yoshio Tsuchiya

Votes: 123

aka The Secret of the Telegian but I do also like the other one listed: The Electrical Facsimile Transmission Human

23. Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961)

74 min | Sci-Fi

Clumsy invaders from Neptune are thwarted by hero Space Chief and a nondescript group of microshort-wearing Japanese kids.

Director: Kôji Ohta | Stars: Shin'ichi Chiba, Ryûko Minakami, Mitsue Komiya, Seiichirô Kameishi

Votes: 2,320

aka Invasion of the Neptune Men

24. Sekai daisensô (1961)

110 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

This Japanese film speculates on the events which lead the U.S. and the Soviet Union into a nuclear Armageddon.

Director: Shûe Matsubayashi | Stars: Furankî Sakai, Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Nobuko Otowa

Votes: 157

25. Pitfall (1962)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy

A man wanders into a seemingly deserted town with his young son in search of work. But after a bit of bad luck, he joins the town's population of lost souls.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara | Stars: Hisashi Igawa, Sumie Sasaki, Sen Yano, Hideo Kanze

Votes: 2,783

26. Gorath (1962)

Not Rated | 83 min | Action, Family, Sci-Fi

Japanese disaster film about a giant meteor on a collision course with the Earth. The dubbed American version of this film is missing a giant walrus which appeared briefly in the Japanese ... See full summary »

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Ryô Ikebe, Yumi Shirakawa, Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno

Votes: 473

aka Gorath

27. Matango (1963)

Unrated | 89 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Shipwrecked survivors slowly transform into mushrooms.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kenji Sahara

Votes: 2,081

28. Atragon (1963)

TV-Y7 | 94 min | Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi

When an ancient underground civilization and their snake-like guardian plots to reclaim the surface world, those of the surface fights back.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Tadao Takashima, Yôko Fujiyama, Yû Fujiki, Kenji Sahara

Votes: 686

aka Atragon

29. The Lost World of Sinbad (1963)

96 min | Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Sukezaemon, a pirate, is shipwrecked in a strange corner of the world. With his companion, a wizard named Sennin, Sukezaemon becomes entangled in a plot by the evil premier to succeed the dying King Raksha.

Director: Senkichi Taniguchi | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Tadao Nakamaru, Mie Hama, Kumi Mizuno

Votes: 193

30. Kwaidan (1964)

Not Rated | 183 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi | Stars: Rentarô Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe, Kenjirô Ishiyama

Votes: 11,890

31. Onibaba (1964)

Not Rated | 103 min | Drama, Horror

Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask.

Director: Kaneto Shindô | Stars: Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Satô, Jûkichi Uno

Votes: 12,628

32. Woman in the Dunes (1964)

Not Rated | 123 min | Drama, Thriller

An entomologist on vacation is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara | Stars: Eiji Okada, Kyôko Kishida, Hiroko Itô, Kôji Mitsui

Votes: 13,676

33. Yotsuya kaidan (1965)

105 min | Fantasy, Horror

A samurai warrior is haunted by the spirit of his first wife.

Director: Shirô Toyoda | Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Mariko Okada, Junko Ikeuchi, Mayumi Ohzora

Votes: 200

aka Illusion of Blood

34. Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)

Unrated | 87 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

During WWII, a human heart taken from a certain lab in Europe (Dr. Frankenstein's) is kept in a Japanese lab, when it gets exposed to the radiation of the bombing of Hiroshima. The heart ... See full summary »

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Tadao Takashima, Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Yoshio Tsuchiya

Votes: 1,442

35. Daimajin (1966)

Unrated | 84 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A giant stone statue comes to life to protect the residents of a small town against the depradations of an evil warlord.

Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda | Stars: Miwa Takada, Yoshihiko Aoyama, Jun Fujimaki, Ryûtarô Gomi

Votes: 949

36. Wrath of Daimajin (1966)

Not Rated | 79 min | Fantasy

In a mountainous region of Japan, Lord Arakawa kidnaps the men of nearby villages to use as slave labor, producing gunpowder from his sulfur pits. A band of young boys decide to rescue their enslaved fathers on their own.

Director: Kazuo Mori | Stars: Hideki Ninomiya, Shinji Hori, Masahide Iizuka, Muneyuki Nagatomo

Votes: 415

37. Return of Daimajin (1966)

Not Rated | 79 min | Drama, Fantasy

Giant statue exacts revenge upon those who conquer its worshippers.

Director: Kenji Misumi | Stars: Kôjirô Hongô, Shiho Fujimura, Tarô Marui, Takashi Kanda

Votes: 441

38. Ôgon batto (1966)

73 min | Adventure, Action, Sci-Fi

When the Earth is threatened by an evil alien, a group of UN scientists travel to the lost city of Atlantis where they unearth a superhuman mummy named The Golden Bat who is prophesied to help the humans survive this terrible attack.

Director: Hajime Satô | Stars: Shin'ichi Chiba, Osamu Kobayashi, Wataru Yamagawa, Hisako Tsukuba

Votes: 131

39. Yabu no naka no kuroneko (1968)

Not Rated | 99 min | Drama, Horror

Two women are raped and killed by samurai soldiers. Soon they reappear as vengeful ghosts who seduce and brutally murder the passing samurai.

Director: Kaneto Shindô | Stars: Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kei Satô, Rokkô Toura

Votes: 4,597

40. Snake Woman's Curse (1968)

Not Rated | 85 min | Horror

An old man dies of heartbreak when a cruel landlord is about to repossess his land. Since the man died in debt, his wife and daughter are indentured servants and are forced to work in the landlord's factory.

Director: Nobuo Nakagawa | Stars: Yukiko Kuwahara, Yukie Kagawa, Seizaburô Kawazu, Kô Nishimura

Votes: 220

aka Snake Woman's Curse

41. The Green Slime (1968)

G | 90 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

After destroying a giant asteroid heading towards Earth, a group of scientists unknowingly bring back a strange green substance that soon mutates into a monster.

Director: Kinji Fukasaku | Stars: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel, Bud Widom

Votes: 2,634

42. Big Monster War (1968)

79 min | Horror

When a Babylonian vampire comes to old Japan, an army of Japanese demons and ghosts gather and battle him.

Director: Yoshiyuki Kuroda | Stars: Yoshihiko Aoyama, Hideki Hanamura, Chikara Hashimoto, Hiromi Inoue

Votes: 294

aka Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare

43. Yôkai hyaku monogatari (1968)

80 min | Horror

The local yôkai (Japanese spirits) interfere to avenge a murder and thwart the plans of corrupt officials.

Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda | Stars: Shinobu Araki, Jun Fujimaki, Ryûtarô Gomi, Jun Hamamura

Votes: 231

aka Yokai Monsters: One Hundred Monsters

44. The Snow Woman (1968)

79 min | Horror, Romance

The lives of a master sculptor and his young apprentice are changed forever when they meet an evil witch during a snow storm.

Director: Tokuzô Tanaka | Stars: Shiho Fujimura, Akira Ishihama, Machiko Hasegawa, Sen Hara

Votes: 251

45. The Living Skeleton (1968)

80 min | Horror

About a young woman living in a seaside town haunted by the ghosts of a ship's crew murdered by modern-day pirates.

Director: Hiroki Matsuno | Stars: Kikko Matsuoka, Yasunori Irikawa, Masumi Okada, Asao Uchida

Votes: 423

46. Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968)

PG | 84 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

The survivors of a plane crash in a remote area are attacked by blob-like alien creatures that turn their victims into blood-thirsty vampires.

Director: Hajime Satô | Stars: Teruo Yoshida, Tomomi Satô, Eizô Kitamura, Hideo Kô

Votes: 1,136

aka Goke: Body Snatcher from Hell

47. Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

Unrated | 99 min | Horror

After escaping from an insane asylum, a medical student assumes the identity of a mysterious dead man, who appeared to be his doppelganger, and gets lured to a sinister island ruled by a mad scientist and his malformed men.

Director: Teruo Ishii | Stars: Teruo Yoshida, Yukie Kagawa, Teruko Yumi, Mitsuko Aoi

Votes: 887

aka Horror of Malformed Men

48. Jigokuhen (1969)

91 min | Drama

A rebellious Korean artist tests the limits of his sadistic patron, an omnipotent feudal Japanese lord. Yoshihide demands a commission to paint screens of the Hell which he sees the ... See full summary »

Director: Shirô Toyoda | Stars: Hideyo Amamoto, Yôko Naitô, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kinnosuke Nakamura

Votes: 248

aka Portrait of Hell

49. Latitude Zero (1969)

G | 89 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi