In 1998, director Hideo Nakata (Dark Water) unleashed a chilling tale of technological terror on unsuspecting audiences, which redefined the horror genre, launched the J-horror boom in the West and introduced a generation of moviegoers to a creepy, dark-haired girl called Sadako. The film’s success spawned a slew of remakes, reimaginations and imitators, but none could quite boast the power of Nakata’s original masterpiece, which melded traditional Japanese folklore with contemporary anxieties about the spread of technology. A group of teenage friends are found dead, their bodies grotesquely contorted, their faces twisted in terror. Reiko (Nanako Matsushima,), a journalist and the aunt of one of the victims, sets out to investigate the shocking phenomenon, and in the process uncovers a creepy urban legend about a supposedly cursed videotape, the contents of which causes anyone who views it to die within a week – unless they can persuade someone else to watch it, and, in so doing, pass on the curse… Arrow Video is proud to present the genre-defining trilogy – Ringu, the film that started it all, plus Hideo Nakata’s chilling sequel, Ringu 2, and the haunting origin story, Ringu 0 – as well as the ‘lost’ original sequel, George Iida’s Spiral, gathered together in glorious high definition and supplemented by a wealth of archival and newly created bonus materials.

What We Thought:

I had seen the American remake versions of The Ring and The Ring 2 starring Naomi Watts, but surprisingly had never seen the original Japanese films so I was quite happy this came my way. This collection is the original film Ringu, its sequel Ringu 2 (which also comes with the bonus film Spiral, the original sequel that wasn’t well received) and Ring 0, a prequel/origin flick.

If you aren’t familiar with any versions of the film or the novels they are based on, the first film sees a reporter investigating odd deaths involving a mysterious VHS tapes (it was the 1990’s after all). Kids were watching this tape with weird images on it, getting a phone call right afterwards and being told they had 7 days before they died. Along with her ex-husband, she looks into the origin of the images and those involved. She watches the tape, her ex-husband and son do as well so time is not on their side. She traces it back to a family and an event going back decades. Her son and husband have abilities which I totally didn’t remember from the American versions, but it’s been over ten years since I’ve seen those.

The second film takes place shortly after the events of the first film. Now that they know who was on the tape, that family is brought into the story more. The ex-husband’s assistant joins in as well. The son’s psychic abilities grow and medical experts try to help the boy as he’s being bothered by the ghost from the well.

Ring 0 tries to explain the origin of Sadako Yamamura and how she ended up in the well. She’s an actress and the film takes place 30 years or so before the first two films. It does explain her family history, how she ultimately is put in the well and all that, but at no point through any of these films does it explain the video tape. I actually expected that in this film. It talks about Sadako and wanting to act and how people were kind of scared of her because she was weird. There’s some story on her mother and father and another character I won’t spoil. But how on Earth do they never explain how any of the images appear on the VHS tape, who made it and who was the first person to discover it?

The Ringu Collection was a great watch before Halloween. This series really jump started Japanese horror and opened the door for films like The Grudge, One Missed Call, Pulse and more. I don’t necessarily find them scary, but I respect what they accomplished and aren’t bad to watch. It’s definitely better than the paranormal crap we get out of Hollywood today. Plus this collection has a slew of bonus features and the remastering looks and sounds great. If you are a fan, this is a must own release.

Bonus Features:

  • Brand New 4K restoration of Ring from the original camera negative, approved by director of photography Junichiro Hayashi
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations
  • Lossless Japanese DTS-HD master audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Bonus feature: Spiral, George Iida’s 1998 sequel to Ringu
  • New Audio commentary on Ringu by film historian David Kalat
  • New Audio commentary on Ringu 0 by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
  • The Ringu Legacy, a series of new interviews from critics and filmmakers on their memories of the Ringu series and its enduring legacy
  • A Vicious Circle, a new video interview with author and critic Kat Ellinger on the career of Hideo Nakata
  • Circumnavigating Ringu, a new video essay by author and critic Kat Ellinger on the evolution of the Ringu series
  • Spooks, Sighs and Videotape, a new video essay by critic Jasper Sharp on the J-horror phenomenon
  • The Psychology of Fear, a newly edited archival interview with author Koji Suzuki
  • Archival behind-the-scenes featurette on Ringu 0
  • Ringu 0 deleted scenes
  • Sadako’s Video
  • Multiple theatrical trailers for the Ringu series
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing from Violet Lucca, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Jasper Sharp, Kieran Fisher and Kat Ellinger
  • Limited edition packaging featuring original and newly commissioned artwork

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