Whether or not someone is versed in Junji Ito’s work, anyone even faintly familiar with J-horror and manga has likely come across the horror/ero-guro maverick’s grotesque collection. Often dealing with cosmic and ancestral doom and body horror themes much like David Cronenberg, Ari Aster, or John Carpenter, Ito’s stories are ripe with discomforting pages; they allow for the mind to wander and imagination to take form within fear.
Junji has already had works produced in either the film or television vein. For example, Uzumaki has both television and film adaptations, not to mention the divisive anime anthology series Junji Ito Collection. Nonetheless, some of his other stories would undoubtedly make fantastic feature film adaptations.
An intriguing cosmic horror short story about a town that is suddenly under attack by a mysterious and unseen force that literally smashes its victims, brutally flattening them into the ground. The mystery of the antagonist and the gruesome consequences are fear-inducing and would inevitably make for some fantastic movie gore as well as highly anticipated and well-deserved jumpscares.
Though it could very well be interpreted as cheesy, it wouldn’t be hard to visualize this as a fun and strange body-horror mystery.
One of Ito’s more elaborate short stories, Shiver manages several strange elements. A boy observes a strange girl who suffers an unnamed sickness, crying every night. Upon beginning his investigation into his odd neighbor, the rest of the story is sure to trigger anyone’s trypophobia as she reveals a symptom of her illness involves holes spreading across her body.
The rest of the mystery follows the history of a cursed object and how it affects those who come in contact with it, with horrifying results. Though the story may seem vague or cliché to some, the reveal of the body horror would be epically fantastic, likely to make some nauseous to see in a live-action setting.
8 No Longer Human
Based on the autobiography of Osamu Dazai that discusses his and friend Ōba Yōzō’s troubled lives as they struggle with self-hatred, addiction, relationships, family, and suicide in early 20th-century Japan.
Ito took great care to visualize their manic and depressive journeys in consideration of the men’s psychological states. What it was they would be experiencing and visualizing in their dreams, nightmares, and visions. Not to mention the gritty display of death and sickness that becomes dizzying the longer it continues. Similar in subject matter and effect as to films such as The Lost Weekend or Krisha, No Longer Human takes it to a much darker level.
7 The Long Dream
A short yet intriguing piece that leaves much food for thought, the concept is relatively simple: in a mental hospital, a woman suffering existential nightmares writhes in terror every night while a man sleeps deeply, to the point of existing through many years within his dreams.
Scientists and doctors struggle to study and diagnose the two or cure them of their sleep disorders. The man grows stranger and stranger in appearance, becoming more withered and otherworldly. Each night he sleeps, he dreams farther and farther into the future, ultimately becoming a more ethereal and otherworldly being. His appearance is absolutely disturbing as readers see the toll that endless time takes on a man, psychologically.
The director of the Uzumaki movie, Higuchinsky, directed a TV-made adaptation of this story in 2000. Notably, its ending is different than that of the source material.
6 Fashion Model
A more fun and funny but just as terrifying short story, Fashion Model is about the encounters of young aspiring models or men who come across a long-faced, tall, horrifying-looking woman with sharp teeth and beady eyes. The woman’s presence is both disorienting and mystifying as she ends up being praised and featured in magazines, despite her deep-set gloom.
In reality, the woman is also a murderer who won’t hesitate to eat her competition. Much like The Neon Demon meets ’80s creature features, this short will scare and delight all horror fans if adapted as a film.
5 Hanging Blimp
Taking on a much darker subject and subtext, Hanging Blimp features another one of Ito’s apocalyptic scenarios worthy of films such as The Thing or the heralded J-Horror movie Pulse.
As there is an increased number of what seem to be tragic suicides amongst random individuals, Japan finds itself under attack as the dead are seen being suspended from intimidating, paranormal alters; massive versions of their heads that actively seek the living to snatch and kill them. It’s intensely creepy as it seems the heads are entirely conscious and cannot be killed, or their living counterparts will be horrifyingly deflated as well. The imagery is bizarre and definitely nightmarish.
A more haunting piece as suddenly, one by one, people become afflicted with being “earthbound.” Individuals essentially turn into living statues as they pose coldly in random areas.
The imagery itself is haunting, especially if taken in a more realistic context, and would be an absolute shock to see in real life. The people stuck in the contagious state eventually die as they no longer can or want to move, perhaps, like Hanging Blimp, also an allegory for depression and suicide.
One of Ito’s most notably disgusting, if not the most nauseating story of his, fans of The Greasy Strangler will understand the hilarity of the obsession with the oily and slimy.
A girl lives in squalor with her abusive father and brother as the filth takes over their lives, especially when adolescence takes over the siblings. The brother takes up an obsession with grease and begins consuming it without abandon. What follows literally can not be described on any formal platform but is sure to make anyone gag upon even reading. Making this into a film might even top the grossness of The Greasy Strangler itself.
2 Enigma of the Amigara Fault
The most attractively mysterious and darkly poetic cosmic horror pieces of Ito’s, people are attracted to person-shaped holes in a mountain. They find themselves drawn to holes that are shaped as themselves, and they fit perfectly in, and although those who wander into their holes cannot be retrieved, people gravitate to them nonetheless, unable to fight the urge to fit inside.
The Enigma’s meaning can be highly interpretable, with one of the most horrifying and strange endings to an Ito story of all time that will especially shake those with trypophobia and claustrophobia.
The latest release translated into English, Remina seems to be a bit of a spiritual follow-up to films such as Melancholia about unavoidable masses in space coming to crash on earth.
With eyes, tongues, and all, the living mass is named after the daughter of the scientist that discovered it. When Remina comes dangerously close to Earth and is projected to hit it, people of the world manage to find someone to blame and become a collective cult as they chase after the girl Remina to sacrifice her as a martyr to save themselves. This would likely be the grandest, high-production adaptation of an Ito story seeing how large-scale the destruction is.
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