BACK IN 1998, a little known horror film based on the novels by Koji Suzuki would ignite a new wave for for the genre known today as J-horror after its Japanese influence.
That film was called Ringu and gave birth to a modern icon in Sadako, which has been repeated ever since (with the woman in white and long black hair) but arguably has never had the same impact on its audience.
Centred on its female heroine, Reiko, (a deviation from the book by switching gender) who hears of a curse attached to a videotape and her journalistic instincts lead her down a well of despair in order to free her soul and to save her son from a twisted fate.
It’s simple storytelling told with enough tension along the way that keep you gripped to the screen as the virus spreads to those who watch the videotape, we too are consumed by its intoxication and succumb to the power that Sadako injects into her victims.
Watching it now, it still stands strong and is a testament to director Hideo Nakata and his vision that perfectly encapsulates the menace and enhances that fear in all of us.
It’s success spawned a sequel in the same year: Rasen (Spiral) based on Suzuki’s follow up to Ring and to capitalise on the story surrounding the curse, but such was the success of Ringu that Rasen was lost in its shadow and had since become forgotten.
Which is a shame because it’s a great film in its own right and owes a lot to Suzuki’s storytelling.
It does deviate from the original by shifting its focus on the curse itself which has mutated into a cancerous form that attacks the heart. So you start to go down a more medical avenue as it follows Surgeon, Mitsuo Ando as he delves into this strange anomaly whilst still suffering from his own heart ache after losing his son.
Nakata would however revisit this storyline for another attempt at a sequel with Ring 2, which had a lot more focus on the mysticism that surrounded Sadako and also Reiko’s son, Yoichi.
A 3rd movie was also made in this instalment entitled Ring 0: Birthday, which wound the clock back to the beginning, unearthing the origins of Sadako and how she became such a tortured soul with a grudge to bear.
It was inevitable that the American movie would pick up on the interest surrounding this franchise, such is the richness of substance within, so in 2002, The Ring starring Naomi Watts would hit the silver screen and scare a whole new audience on the Western Hemisphere and transporting Sadako into Samara to fit into the different dynamic that sits on the other side of the pond.
This time it was directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) and added his own unique touch to the story with a much bigger profit.
The result was a huge success at the box office and generated its own sequel, The Ring 2 (2005), which similar to its Japanese counterpart focused on the son and his consummation by Sadako as she tries to get her grips into his soul.
Since then, all went quiet on the Sadako front until 2012, when she received a 3D treatment in Japanese cinemas with a new tale entitled Sadako 3D, based on Suzuki’s novel, S.
And despite little fanfare, this film also has a sequel the following year, 2013, entitled (not so originally) Sadako 3D 2.
This film also didn’t set the movie world alight but did trigger a reawakening of sorts with a horror movie face-off battling to of Japanese horrors finest villains of late, Sadako v The Grudge.
Hollywood weren’t to miss out on this re-awakening however and after a 12 year absence, Samara is set to return and scare audiences again in 2017 with Rings.
It’s a move that hopes to introduce the story to a whole new generation and go deeper into the mythology for fans of the franchise.
So while Australian audiences wait for the release of the latest movie, the team at Surgeons of Horror decided to dissect this movie franchise in our latest podcast discussions, which you can check out below.