Ono Fuyumi Dialogue Part 1: Love for Horror

A translation of the first out of three parts of “The Inerasable” Opening Commemoration Dialogue with Ono Fuyumi and Nakamura Yoshihiro originally published on the Daily Shincho (February 4, 2016).

Ono Fuyumi talks about her “love for horror” – Addicted to the “Cursed Films” Series

Ono Fuyumi's The Inerasable
Ono Fuyumi’s The Inerasable

On the occasion of the release “The Inerasable” (Zange – Sunde wa Ikenai Heya -), Director Nakamura Yoshihiro (The Booth, The Snow White Murder Case, Prophecy) talked with the original writer Ono Fuyumi (Ghost Hunt, Twelve Kingdoms, Shiki) about their love for horror.

Known as huge horror fans, Ono-san and Director Nakamura actually met over a decade ago through a certain work. That work is the director’s contributions to “It’s True! Cursed Films” series (1999), a compilation of fear-inducing videos.

“I watched the entirety of the “Cursed Films”.”

Ono Fuyumi: I watched the entirety of the “Cursed Films”. I casually watched it on the web, liked it, and bought the ten-odd DVD volumes which were on sale back then in one go. Since then I keep chasing after the new works. I really loved the ghost reports of the “Thursday Special” when it was broadcast in the 70s. But more than that I sensed the “smell” it had in common. The ghost photography from before were snapshots in which you wouldn’t know the location of the ghost unless you pointed it out with a circle. But in reality they were distinctly visible. I felt that “the image of a ghost is probably like this”, and got addicted to it.

Director Nakamura Yoshihiro
Director Nakamura Yoshihiro

Nakamura Yoshihiro: I also loved that kind of world. When I made the “Cursed Films” series, I stayed aware of the ghost reports of the “Thursday Special” and “Unbelievable”. But I merely thought about whether it could pull the interest of horror lovers if we merely sang the praises of only “average submissions” in a set-up which was mostly a documentary (lol).

Ono Fuyumi: When I published “Zange”, the editor in charge told me “I want to turn this book into a film”. I thought he was a person who says dream-like things (lol), but after I half-seriously replied “If it were a dream, then I would be glad if Director Nakamura would shoot it”. I wrote that I also watched the entirety of “Cursed Films”, and actually ended up sending the book to you.

“Out of all the offers I had so far, that made me the happiest.”

Nakamura Yoshihiro: Out of all the offers I had so far, that made me the happiest. Because “Cursed Films” was a work from a period in which I still wasn’t recognized as a movie director. Among my friends I boasted: “It’s a work not only for horror maniacs, but also a work that should be valued among the general public”, but there was absolutely no reaction (lol).

Ono Fuyumi: It was classified as a horror outside the norms, so to speak.

Nakamura Yoshihiro: It is from the same year, 1999, like The Blair Witch Project. It was a period when the phrase “fake documentary” wasn’t much in use in Japan.

Ono Fuyumi: Japan already had a precedent in “Jaganrei” (Psychic Vision) in 1988, so when I watched “Blair Witch” I had the feeling I already had seen that way of shooting. “Thursday Special” also had the same technique. By nature, Japanese people might have an affinity regarding the “gray zone” between the genuine thing and the man-made thing.

“I felt like making horror once again.”

Takeuchi Yuuko who plays "I" in The Inerasable.
Takeuchi Yuuko who plays “I” in The Inerasable.

Nakamura Yoshihiro: Even so, I felt guilty when I made volume 1 and 2 of the “Cursed Films”. As if my hands were stained by a crime (lol). I thought my existence as a director would be snatched away. But if I showed the ghost clearly on any of the ten works in one volume, I wondered if it would become clear that I intended to lie. In “Jaganrei” too, Takenaka Naoto-san as the television program director realized at one point in time that it wasn’t not a genuine documentary. Even so, there’s a portion which cannot be determined to be 100% artificial.

Ono Fuyumi: It reeks of fake, but one is able to think the reality is similar to this.

Nakamura Yoshihiro: I made “Cursed Films” until the “special” in August, 2000. It’s truly been a while since I made real horror like Zange – Sunde wa Ikenai Heya -. Actually, in the time that I went away from horror, my readiness had considerably faded away. Nakata Hideo-san, director of Ring and True Horror Stories, can also shoot love stories like “Sleeping Bride” in a frightening way. He filmed it normally, but it became a horror (lol).

Still, when I shoot and edit normally, it becomes an optimistic world without scariness. If I shoot a horror in which the viewer wants scary horror, my mind and body takes on quite a burden and becomes tired. Because of that I gradually ended up turning down horror projects. When I filmed an ordinary movie called “Route 225” a long time ago, my body felt awfully light while shooting (lol). Still, a few years ago I felt like making horror once again. That’s when I accepted the story of “Zange”.

“Director Nakamura is good at pacing.”

Hashimoto Ai and Takeuchi Yuuko
Kubo, played by Hashimoto Ai, and “I” start their investigation.

Ono Fuyumi: Looking at the completed “Zange” movie, I felt deeply moved that I wanted to see this exact kind of movie, having written this story. A ghost documentary becomes unnatural once you write beyond the process which proceeds with an investigation. And it becomes interesting if it isn’t written at all on the other hand. Director Nakamura is good at pacing. I think the presence of the woman who committed suicide in the past was the most amazing scene. Her facial expression which had become completely wrinkled, was splendid. I also thought it was wonderful that you chose that actress.

Nakamura Yoshihiro: I had many auditions with a gravitas of “Jounetsu Tairiku” class for that role. Making horror after for the first time in a ten-odd years, I would find it disagreeable if people told me that they didn’t find it scary. So I raised the standard of all scary scenes. We strung together a cast of roles with connections to the past: Tomozaburou, Toshie and Nakamura Misao, after doing an amazing amount of auditions.


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