June 4th, 2012: Ringu* (1998)

What It’s About:  A reporter (Nanako Matsushima) investigates reports of a videotape which kills the viewer seven days after viewing.

Why Watch it Today?:  Today marks the 35th anniversary of the introduction of the VHS format to the United States.  Home video forever changed the way movies were marketed and viewed, and started the shift of films away from a communal experience to a solitary one.  The format also had an air of illegitimacy about it that encouraged its use in horror.  Whether it was because the medium was unstable, degrading with each viewing and with copying, because tapes could be taped over, or because it was the first widely adopted technology that allowed users to create films of their own that did not need to be processed by others to be viewed, the idea of popping an unlabeled or poorly labeled tape into your VCR and seeing things that would forever haunt you, kill you outright, or completely alter your body and reality showed up again and again.  Ringu* is perhaps the most successful horror film to feature video as its delivery vehicle, spawning an avalanche of sequels, remakes and imitators.

Where to Get It: Netflix (DVD)

*On the advice of The League’s intellectual property lawyer and (and one time resident of Japan), I’ve been instructed to note that the use of the title Ringu is silly and that the film should be referred to simply by its actual title, Ring.

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