Zombie movies have ruled the silver screen for years now. And while internationally, zombie movies fluctuate in popularity, Japan has been going strong! Here are Japan’s best zombie movies of all time.
- One Cut of the Dead (2017)
- Versus (2000)
- Junk – Resident Zombie (2000)
- I Am a Hero (2015)
- Wild Zero (1999)
- Zedd (2014)
- Miss Zombie (2013)
- Bloody Delinquent Girl Chainsaw (2016)
- Schoolgirl Apocalypse (2011)
Like them or hate them. But zombies have so much potential in a movie plot! Add to it that this is one genre where logic can jump right out of the window. This gives way for some of the wackiest storylines, lots of gore, quite a bit of action, and sometimes even a few laughs with a little bit of romance sneaked in. What’s not to love?
Best Japanese Zombie Movies
If you like zombie movies, you will love the Japanese zombie movies. Most of the movies have weak plots or dialogues. But what they lack in these departments, they more than makeup in bloody action sequences and display of dismembered body parts. Add some comic relief in true Japanese style, and you have a complete entertainment package. Here are the best few!
One Cut of the Dead
- Japanese name -カメラを止めるな! (Don’t Stop the Camera!)
- Directed by – Shin’ichiro Ueda
- Release date – November 2017
- Running time – 97 minutes
- Ratings – IMDb (7.7), Rotten Tomatoes (100%), Metacritic (86%)
Why watch it? The movie cleverly combines humor, gore, and satire. This makes it an enjoyable watch. The film might not scare you out of your seats. But, it will make you laugh and amuse you with its witty plot and camerawork.
Plot: This low-budget Japanese movie has an interesting plot. A low-budget movie director goes off to an isolated location with the cast and crew. Why? Because he wants to make a zombie movie! The director has a fallout with the actors and abandons them. But just then, real zombies appear and create chaos!
Instead of being shocked and scared, the director is delighted and starts shooting the film with the real zombies. As the zombies go about their regular zombie behavior, the director has only one piece of advice for the crew – Don’t Stop the Camera!
- Japanese title – ヴァーサス (Vasasu)
- Directed by – Ryuhei Kitamura
- Release date – October 29, 2000
- Running time – 120 minutes
- Ratings – IMDb (6.4), Rotten Tomaotoes (71%)
Why watch it? The movie combines some samurai fighting with zombie gore. It also has gunplay, martial arts, and comic relief. Due to the different entertainment elements, it makes for a great watch.
Plot: There is the human world as we know it. And then there are portals to the ‘other side of the world’. The 444th portal to the other side lies somewhere in Japan. It is known as The Forest of Resurrection. Different storylines bring an escaped convict, a gang of Yakuza battle, and a mysterious girl to this place.
When the buried dead wake up as zombies, the movie breaks into some good action sequences. The door to the portal is going to be opened. But why and what will happen when the portal is opened? This forms the storyline of the movie.
Junk – Resident Zombie
- Japanese title – JUNK 死霊狩り(Junk: Shiryōgari)
- Directed by – Atsushi Muroga
- Release date – January 22, 2000
- Running time – 83 minutes
- Ratings – IMDb (5.4)
Why watch it? The movie might not have great ratings. But it is sure delivers on what is promises. For hardcore zombie-genre fans, there is dismemberment, heads blowing into pieces, and zombies munching on humans.
Plot: The US Military stationed in Japan along with a Japanese scientist carry out medical experiments on dead bodies. The facility is finally closed but a few people are still carrying out the experiments on their own. When the experiment results in one of the dead bodies waking up as an undead zombie. As he kills the scientists present, they too turn into zombies hungry for human meat and thirsty for human blood!
As some jewel thieves use the old, abandoned building, the zombies emerge and attack them. How the jewel thieves manage to fight with the zombies out there to kill them forms the crux of the story.
I Am a Hero
- Japanese title – アイアムアヒーロー (Ai Amu A Hiro)
- Directed by – Shunsuke Sato
- Release date – 2016
- Running time – 126 minutes
- Ratings – IMDb (6.8), Rotten Tomatoes (90%)
Why watch it? The movie is a good watch for the zombie-nerd genre fans. It has some good special effects, too. To add to it, the direction is great and the actors have performed very well.
Plot: Hideo is a manga artist. One evening, while returning home from work, he witnesses a road accident. A man is instantly killed by an oncoming car. But, to Hideo’s horror, the ‘dead’ man gets up and walks away. As Hideo wonders, if this was a hallucination, stranger things start happening around him. There is a virus breakout that is turning infecting people.
The infected people are being turned into zombies who want to eat the first human they can find. Hideo, armed with his shotgun, is left with no option but to fight the zombies around him. As a manga artist, Hideo has always dreamed to be a hero. Now, is his chance!
- Directed by – Tetsuro Takeuchi
- Release date – August 8, 1999
- Running time – 98 minutes
- Ratings – IMDb (6.4), Rotten Tomatoes (100%)
Why watch it? The storyline is extremely silly which adds comedy to the horror factor. The movie is not exactly scary. But there are zombies for sure and quite a bit of absurd and funny situations!
Plot: Ace, the protagonist, is a huge fan of the Japanese rock band Guitar Wolf. Once when he helps the group, he is given a special whistle. The Guitar Wolf calls him their ‘blood brother’. They tell him to blow the whistle whenever he is in trouble. Trouble is close at hand as soon there is an alien invasion. And the dead start rising as flesh-eating zombies.
- Directed by – Teppei Nakamura
- Release date – October 2014
- Running time – 54 minutes
- Ratings – IMDb (6.4)
Why watch it? This zombie movie has an interesting twist in the storyline that makes it a great watch. The performances by all six lead stars (they are Cross Gene singers!) are excellent! Watch it for action, humor, dancing, singing, all in one 54-minute movie!
Plot: Six young friends are wrongly accused of a crime they never committed. They are imprisoned as the world is in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. But then one of the six gets infected. They have no choice but to find an antidote or risk getting infected themselves. What will they do to stop the zombie infection from spreading?
- Directed by – Sabu
- Release date – September 9, 2013
- Running time – 85 minutes
- Ratings – IMDb (6.3)
Why watch it? The movie has exceptional performances. Even though some themes depicted in the movie can be disturbing for some audiences, it is a very maturely made movie. And the ending will leave you speechless!
Plot: The movie is set in the future. Zombies are now kept in households as pets or servants. Miss Zombie is one such zombie. The movie explores how Miss Zombie (Shara) is exploited by her owners. It is a story of her ordeals and her retaliation. Shara tolerates all the ill-treatment meted out to her. But when she gets the chance, she is quick to seek revenge. The story uses dry humor and satirical themes to bring to you a movie that hits hard.
Bloody Delinquent Girl Chainsaw
- Directed by – Hiroki Yamaguchi
- Release date – February 20, 2016
- Running time – 76 minutes
- Ratings – IMDb (4.5)
Why watch it? The movie is borderline absurd. And that’s really its highlight. There are a lot of weird things happening. So, prepare to be amused. And hey, there’s cut-up body parts!
Plot: Giko Nokomura is a senior in middle school. The poor girl just wants to make sure she writes her exams. But can she? No Sir! Because, Zombies. Giko’s classmates are turning into zombies and she must fight them or lose her chance to graduate from middle school! And how does Giko fight her classmates? With a chainsaw, of course! So as she goes around lugging a large chainsaw with her and cuts up zombies, there’s a lot of blood and gore to be seen if you have the stomach for it.
- Japanese title -セーラー服黙示録 (Sera-fuku mokushiroku)
- Directed by – John Cairns
- Release date – July 2011
- Running time – 86 minutes
Why watch it? The film might seem like a simplistic plot where a Japanese schoolgirl turns into a zombie and goes on a killing spree. But the movie is a westernized and modern take on the Japanese cultural dynamics. It has been lauded for a liberal outlook.
Plot: Japanese schoolgirl Sakura’s town is in danger. All men in the town are turning into zombies and killing the women. As Sakura loses dear ones, she is battling with a wave of insanity coming to her due to the trauma. As she sets out to fight the apocalypse, she has visions of a red-headed boy. On her quest to find the boy, Sakura meets a mysterious and dangerous woman.
Zombies have become a household name. These flesh-eating undead creatures enjoy popularity in cinema, TV, and other popular media. This article by Kayleigh F. Murphy analyses the zombie movie genre in Japan. While the interest in zombie movies seems to be going down elsewhere, Japan is going strong even now.
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