Horror translation: From Nakata Hideo's Ringu to Gore Verbinski's The Ring
Tsai, Peijen Beth
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Hollywood remakes of Japanese horror present opportunities for an analysis of diverse cultural approaches to ghosts. This thesis aims to identify the similarities and differences in the rendering of the ghost in American and Japanese media culture in a case study of The Ring (2002) and Ringu (1998). By approaching these two films from the viewpoint of cultural studies, I argue that in horror genre, remake films are necessarily works of reinterpretation to allow new audiences to understand and recognize the fear originally set in a different cultural context. American horror films have long been obsessed with bodies. The spiritual manifestations in American cinema are frequently materialized, or transfigured into physical characters. On the other hand, Japanese awareness of a spiritual world and perceptions of horror are different from those in American culture. To the Japanese, ghosts are part of their lives and the tales they tell are instinctively related to the specters, particularly female ones. Through comparative studies of the original and the U.S. remake, Ringu and The Ring reflect different kinds of fear in divergent renditions of two areas--the imagery on the cursed videotape and the ghosts' appearance. The Ring replaced the fear of the unseen with denial of death or fear of physicality in the cinematic rendering of the ghost--a habitual representation seen in the monster motif throughout the American horror film history. In doing so, The Ring adapts the materiality of bodies, places, and time to American audiences, and reminds them what the horror repressed.