What’s entertaining, terrifying and hilarious all in one? That would be a wonderful Japanese TV show I just finished called, The Great Horror Family (TGHF). It’s a horror-sitcom about a “typical” Japanese family that moves into a strange house, which is the center of all kinds of supernatural and paranormal activity. For a western reference point in terms of tone you might think The Addams Family crossed with Tales of the Crypt. Here’s blurb from the back of the DVD:
Kiyoshi Imawano and his family move into a haunted house. The entire family, except the occult-obsessed father, gains the power to see ghosts and spirits. An undead monk, secret government agents, even UFOs start showing up. It’s up to Kiyoshi to find out why the house is troubled by all these strange occurrences and save his family and possibly the world, from inter-dimensional terror.
And it’s really funny! They forgot that part.
TGHF mixes traditional Japanese ghost stories with monsters and modern pop culture parody. The show plays with J-horror conventions with humorous takes on familiar movies like Ju-on (the Grudge) and Ringu (The Ring) but also contains nods to American films like Men in Black. TGHF is rooted in conventional Japanese storytelling but what makes the show novel, is the mixing of different horror genres with a comedy spin. Something that hasn’t been done much in Japan. Most of the humor comes from the understated reactions by the Imawano family to the bizarre events surrounding them and their strange (albeit still very Japanese) way dealing with the supernatural problems. The mother dressing up as a Gothic Lolita comes to mind. The casting is brilliant with several experienced comedic actors taking on the lead roles. Also of note is that the famed Japanese horror director Takashi Shimizu was involved in the project and directed several episodes
The Great Horror Family is a really fun way to jump into J-horror without too much fright but plenty of laughs.