Ladies of Horror May-hem: Asami Yamazaki


Remember what I wrote about Annie Wilkes? Ramp that up by a million and you’ll enter the galaxy of Asami Yamazaki. But you still won’t quite be anywhere near her. Trust me when I say that’s a good thing.

Japanese director Takashi Miike’s Audition was one of the first movies I experienced at the rise in popularity of Asian horror here in the States. I’ve seen quite a few horror movies from places like Japan, China, Thailand, and South Korea since then, but Miike’s tale remains near the top of the list in terms of what has been seen can never be unseen.

Part of me feels guilty for adding Asami as a contender, because I can’t in good conscience recommend this movie for everyone. It’s one of those films I would only recommend to really serious horror fans. However, it’s for this very reason that I knew I couldn’t leave Asami out of the running, especially if I included Annie Wilkes (and I had to include Annie Wilkes). Both of these characters complement each other as prime examples of how the passage of time will inevitably lead to the “ramping up” of what we deem shocking or horrifying. You thought a hammer was bad? You’ve no idea.

Is this necessarily a good thing? I don’t really think I’m the right person to answer that question. My current personal horror preferences tend to lean toward those movies that introduce some kind of unexplainable (read: non-mortal-human) element into the storyline. I’ve learned that I don’t really enjoy movies that focus on the all-too-real ability of regular humans to be horrible to each other. I see what transpires in real life, and some of that makes horror movies look like Care Bear cartoons. We really are the disease, Agent Smith. Therefore, movies that depend upon the ramping up of realistic-looking violence as their sole source of “horror” aren’t really up my alley.

Why include Asami, then? Because, like Annie Wilkes, there’s a perverted logic to her behavior that makes her more than a pointlessly violent horror movie character. She has motivations that are understandable when examined through her warped view of reality (kind of like our lovely May from yesterday). I think this is one of the more interesting aspects of horror. When the story is told properly, even if you can’t imagine yourself responding in the same ways as these characters, you can understand them. Asami has obviously, to use layman’s vernacular, “seen some shit.” And whatever she’s gone through, be it internal or external, it’s seriously twisted her ability to behave in socially acceptable ways.

And that’s putting it mildly.

Also, Asami was definitely a “trial-by-fire” introduction to a new cultural perspective on the horror genre. She opened my eyes and sent me on my merrily terrified way, tearing through the foreign horror section on Netflix like a mouse loose in a cheese factory. For that, I hold a special place for her. A place far removed from my actual location. She does not need to know where I live.