Today’s selection: Ring -Kanzen-ban (1995, dir. Chisui Takigawa)
Available from: fansub-only
Lots of casual J-horror enthusiasts compare and contrast the American remake of The Ring with Hideo Nakata’s 1998 original, neglecting to mention that Nakata’s film is not the first adaptation of Koji Suzuki’ novel. That honor goes to a 1995 TV movie, titled, quite predictably Ring. When this movie was released on VHS and laserdisc, a few extra scenes were added, and the movie was titled Ring: Kanzen-ban, or Ring “Complete Edition”, conveniently disambiguating it from the later remakes.
While this is not the best incarnation of the story (I believe that honor actually goes to the American flick), this is perhaps the film incarnation closest to the original novel: for example, the protagonist is a man protecting his pregnant wife from the cursed videotape, rather than a woman protecting her son (which every version changed except the Ring Final Chapter TV series), and the villainous ghost Sadako is a hermaphrodite killed to cover a rape attempt (a detail omitted by every other version save the Korean Ring Virus). The iconic look of Sadako is absent here; instead of being a crawling hair monster in a white robe, she’s just a naked chick. Ironically, these “changes” from the version that most people saw first are why a lot of folks hate on this film, but I still found it to be quite interesting and an engrossing mystery, if low budget and not particularly scary (the Nakata movie is stronger, make no mistake, but that doesn’t negate its predecessor’s worth). Given the franchise’s popularity, it’s surprising that this has never seen official translated home video release, but as with all Ring properties, loyal fans are eager to make a copy and pass it along.