To see more in-depth reviews, synopses, screenshots and wallpapers, click on the links above to go to the individual film pages.
Overview of the Ring Series
It might be said that the founding factor in most Westerners' interest in the Japanese horror film industry is the phenomenon surrounding the Ring cycle, a series of films which has gained incredible success in Japan. Based on novels by Suzuki Kôji (soon to be released in English by Viz Comics), the story was first broadcast as a popular TV series and then made into a full-length feature film, simply called Ringu (Ring in English), directed by Hideo Nakata.
Needless to say, the film broke all box-office records in Japan and went on to achieve global recognition and appreciation. Chilling, modern yet based in tradition, gore-free and totally psychological, the film left its viewers cowering in fear from their TV sets.
The story of Ring would seem at first to be rooted firmly in the 20th century, with its central urban-legend theme of a cursed videotape which kills anyone who see it within 7 days; however, the mysterious main character, Yamamura Sadako, is definitely based on a very traditional Japanese character: the vengeful female ghost. Long in Japanese art and theatre (certainly since the Meiji period), as well as the hannya (female demons) of ancient folktales, evil female spirits have been popular figures. In kabuki and noh, there are stories such as Oiwa (the tale of a woman poisoned by her husband who returns to kill him) and Okiku (about a female servant killed and thrown down a well which she then haunts every night). However, the real secret of the video-curse, a virus part-smallpox and part-Sadako's DNA, is again defiantly 20th century, ensuring that the story is relevant to contemporary issues as well as ancient mythology.
The original sequel to the film, Rasen (aka The Spiral, or Loop), directed by Jôji Iida, was released at the same time as Nakata's Ring. However, this film was apparently such a turkey that it flopped at the box-office and has been hastily swept under the carpet, not even gaining a English-subtitled release. Indeed, among non-Japanese-speaking Ring-aficionados, finding a subbed release of Rasen (alongside a subbed Tomie:Replay!) is fast becoming a quest for the Holy Grail.
So Hideo Nakata and most of the original cast were called back in by Asmik Ace Entertainment (the original production company) and made Ring 2, a much more satisfactory follow-up and one that did pretty well at the box-office.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, a prequel was made in 2000, Ring 0:Birthday, this time directed by Norio Tsuruta, which provided a fitting and satisfying end to the series, a film which finally explained nearly all of the Sadako mysteries and chose a more dramatic than horrific style.
However, what did prove to be a bit of a surprise was the fact that Ring was remade almost instantly upon its original Japanese release by Dong-bin Kim as The Ring Virus (known as Ring in Korea) for the Korean market. However, this version provides nothing very different from the original Japanese film (with a few weird exceptions) and is almost replicated shot for shot at times.
In 2001 DreamWorks (USA) acquired the rights to remake Ringu as The Ring, which has now been released in US theatres to general acclaim (however, UK and European film fans won't be able to see the movie at the cinema until 2003). The remake has to date grossed $86,000,000 USD at the box office and sparked off a new interest in the original Japanese movies. All of the characters and situations have been rewritten to make them more relevant to American film-goers, and from what we here at Snowblood Apple have heard from people who have already seen the remake, it's OK as compared to the original, featuring good acting performances, nice locations, and not too much detraction from the story of Ringu. There will be a Remakes section forthcoming on this site when the films eventually make it to the UK!
That said , the original Japanese films are major works of art and essential viewing for anyone (a) with an interest in Japanese horror, (b) with an interest in Japanese mythology, or (c) who likes a damn good scare in general. During his introductory piece for the UK TV premiere of Ring, Mark Kermode (late of Fangoria magazine) described the infamous final scene of the film as "...guaranteed to scare the shit out of you". And he wasn't wrong.
World's Shortest Review of Ring Series - courtesy of Alex Apple, © 2002
Ring : Dread
Ring 2 : Bafflement
Ring 0 : Tragedy
Ring Virus : Highlights
The Ring : Reader's Digest version
The best website on the Net dedicated to the Ring series is J Lopez's fabulous Ringworld, based at http://www.theringworld.com, where you'll find all manner of reviews, plot discussions, timelines, pictures, fan-art, wallpapers, downloads and also the amazing Ring Forum community.
Other great sites include:
http://ringufan.intelligent-light.com/ - Arvid's great Ringu-Fan site, with looooads of information, links, pictures and FAQ's - go check it out!!!
http://www.neodymsystems.com/ring/index.shtml - inteferon's viral vestibule, a great new Ring resource, with downloads of the infamous curse videos from both the original and the remake, articles, images and archives from Ringworld's forum
http://www.angelfire.com/retro/sadakodoesjapan/home.html - oh my word - that Sadako gets about, doesn't she :-)
http://www.theblackmoon.com/Deadmoon/ring.html - The Black Moon's Ring page, focusing on the mythology and the manga in particular
http://www2.tba.t-com.ne.jp/ymkazu/t-loop.html - LoopKai [Japanese only]
http://forums.neuroactive.net/index12.html - French Ring forum
http://www.geocities.com/morikai/ring/RS00.html - includes all 12 episodes of the Ring:Saishuushou TV-series
http://www.braineater.com/ringu.html - Braineater's great Ring pages
http://www.tokyoprojekt.com/ - there's a triple whammy of reviews of the three best-known of the Japanese Ring movies here, all on one page - Ring, Ring 2 and Ring 0 - well-researched and pretty thorough, and well worth reading - go check it out
http://membres.lycos.fr/thefish2002/ring.htm - The Fish, with a very cool Flash animation based around the cursed videotape... [French only]
http://web.tiscali.it/japop90/Registi/nakata.html - Italian interview with Nakata Hideo
http://www.mars.dti.ne.jp/%7Eyukiko/index.html - official Nakata Hideo website [Japanese only]
http://www.zoommovie.com/idroom.asp?ProductID=2198 - pick yourself up a really cheap Ring VCD here - it's on sale!
http://www.asiancult.com/cgi-bin/webcart/webcart.cgi?CHANGE=YES&NEXTPAGE=/hotstuff.htm&CODE=126 - you know, it's a Ring universe, and we all just live in it :-)
http://home.swipnet.se/tommybergskold/ - Tommy Bergsköld's great new site, another Ring-addict and a fun page with lots of links - including Swedish ones!
http://www33.brinkster.com/insideff/ - Robert Martinez's very comprehensive collection of The Ring screenshots. Very nice design, too.
http://www.moviecentre.net/movies/t/thering/ - more info, images and a review
http://www.hollywood.com/multimedia/detail/media/1112764 - you can get trailers from here
http://www253.pair.com/impaward/2002/ring.html - 2 official film posters to buy...
http://www.destroy-all-monsters.com/theringtwo.shtml - Destroy All Monsters do a super-thorough job of the remake sequel, as ever