There are a lot of ways to celebrate Halloween in Japan. You could go to the Kawasaki Halloween Parade — one of the biggest parades in the nation — join a school party or dress up and head down to Shibuya Crossing to drink with ゾンビ (zonbi, zombies), 狼男 (ōkami-otoko, werewolves) or 鬼 (oni, demons).
However, this year Halloween falls on a Tuesday and the aforementioned events all took place over the weekend, which means the scariest thing you’re likely to encounter on Oct. 31 is the commute home after work. Fear not (pun intended): One good way to inject some 恐怖 (kyōfu, fear) into your Halloween night is a good old-fashioned ホラー 映画 (horā eiga, horror movie) marathon.
If you’re going to binge-watch a bunch of 怖い (kowai, scary) films, learn a few Japanese words and phrases to practice shouting at the screen and kill two birds with one stone (一石二鳥, isseki ni chō).
The adjective “kowai” is essential, and you can shorten it to “こわっ” to sound more casual (the small “っ” acts like an abrupt stop on the preceding kana). Since horā eiga are filled with jump scares, a good “びっくりした” (Bikkuri shita, “I was surprised”) will come in handy, as will “後ろを見て！” (Ushiro o mite, “Look out behind you!”), “そこには行かないで！” (Soko ni wa ikanai-de, “Don’t go [in] there!”) and “見てられない!” (Miterarenai, “I can’t watch!”).
Japan excels at horror movies. Films such as “リング” (Ringu, “The Ring”) and “呪怨” (Ju-on, “Ju-on: The Grudge”) deal with angry 幽霊 (yūrei, spirits) out for revenge, and they were 大ヒット (dai hitto, big hits) overseas. There’s a lingering 恐れ (osore, fear/dread) in these ghost stories that can make a viewer ブルブル震える (buruburu furueru, shiver) — but any film can do that if the room is cold.
For anyone who’s a bit of a 怖がり (kowa-gari, fraidy-cat), though, it might be better to start with Steven Spielberg’s 1982 ghost story “ポルターガイスト” (Porutāgaisuto, “Poltergeist”). For the most part, “Poltergeist” will leave you ギョッとする (gyotto suru, a bit startled) thanks to the jump scares. There’s one scene that involves a guy looking in a mirror that will make you go from gyotto suru to ぞっとする (zotto suru, scared and a bit disgusted), but other than that the movie should do little more than result in 鳥肌が 立つ (torihada ga tatsu, getting goose bumps — literally, “chicken flesh stands up”).
After “Poltergeist” is done and the kids have gone to bed, it’s time to grab the popcorn and get into some 血みどろ映画 (chimidoro eiga, gory movies). For Halloween, I like sticking to the main franchises: “ハロウィン” (Harowin, “Halloween”), “13日の金曜日” (Jūsannichi no Kinyōbi, “Friday the 13th”), “エルム街の悪夢” (Erumu-gai no Akumu, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”) and “悪魔のいけにえ” (Akuma no Ikenie, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”).
These are the kinds of films that make my 身の毛がよだつ (mi no ke ga yodatsu, hair stand on end). They are not films about yūrei but 殺人鬼 (satsujinki, homicidal killers), and they will have you saying “えぐい” (egui, gross) a lot more than “kowai.”
Egui hasn’t always meant “gross” when it comes to movies. Originally it was used for harsh-tasting food, but more recently young people have been using it as a reaction to seeing something グロテスク (gurotesuku, grotesque), like scenes in films or images on the internet. An abbreviation of gurotesuku, グロい (guroi), can convey the same feeling as does the more common 気持ち悪い (kimochi warui, feels bad/icky).
Granted, these kinds of movies aren’t for everyone. The image of 血まみれの死体 (chi-mamire no shitai, a corpse covered in blood) is pretty scary — though if you were at that Kawasaki Halloween Parade you’d have likely seen chi-mamire no zonbi, chi-mamire no geisha and even chi-mamire no Sailor Moons. The make-up skills at the parade rival anything coming out of Hollywood.
With chimidoro eiga, though, we can go from 血まみれ to 血だらけ (chidarake, filled/drenched with blood). While 〜まみれ and 〜だらけ can sometimes be interchangeable and both are attached to the end of a noun, 〜まみれ is mostly used to show that a surface is covered in something disagreeable, as in 画家の服はペンキまみれだった (Gaka no fuku wa penki-mamire datta, “The painter’s clothes were covered in paint”) or 雨のせいでラグビー 選手たちは泥まみれで練習した (Ame no sei de ragubī senshu-tachi wa doro-mamire de renshū shita, “The rugby players practiced covered in mud because of the rain”).
We can use 〜だらけ for things other than surfaces, like crime scenes: 犯行現場で血 だらけの部屋を発見した (Hankō genba de chi-darake no heya o hakken shita, “We discovered a blood-covered room at the scene of the crime”). And not all examples have to be gurotesuku, but they’re never positive: この論文は文法の間違いだらけだ (Kono ronbun wa bunpō no machigai darake da, “This thesis is filled with grammatical errors”) or 穴だらけの靴下 (ana darake no kutsushita, socks filled with holes).
So, sit down with a 血だらけのスプラッター 映画 (chi-darake no supurattā eiga, blood-drenched splatter/slasher film) to get into the Halloween spirit:
The satsujinki slowly stalks a victim (“後ろを見て!”), who naively runs into an abandoned house (“そこには行かないで!”), and becomes so paralyzed with fear that 足がすくむ (ashi ga sukumu, their legs are frozen in place) — (“見てられない!”). Finally, 血 まみれの殺人鬼が押し入れの中から飛び出して くる (Chimamire no satsujinki ga oshi’ire no naka kara tobidashite kuru, “The killer jumps out of the closet covered in blood”) — it’s terrifying but still a lot of fun.