If you’re a fan of horror kings Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft, then you need to know about the Japanese mangaka named Junji Ito.
This 57-year-old author has released a slew of disturbing, odd, and downright scary fiction that has gripped fans for around 30 years. His stories are riddled with touches of realism and the absurd; they’re terrifying, but also provide a creative exploration into the dark corners of supernatural, otherworldly beings. All in all, the bizarre elements and themes he utilizes makes for pretty diverse horror, which also makes for satisfied fans.
So if you’ve ever wanted a superficial introduction to this master of horror, here are five Junji Ito stories you probably shouldn’t read in the dark.
Army of One
Army of One holds a Human Centipede-esque kind of horror, one full of so much disturbing imagery that it will bring chills down your spine. The story follows the workings of a serial killer who leaves victims gruesomely sewn into each other. Although Japanese authorities implement preventive measures to keep the serial killer at bay, the “elaborate art pieces” never stop and we never really find out why.
The Human Chair
If you’ve ever had an irrational fear of stalkers, then this one’s not for you. The Human Chair is about a carpenter who obsesses over a woman to the point that he hides inside her lounge chair while she continues to sit on top of it and go about her daily life. While it’s not the scariest Junji Ito piece you can read, it’s definitely creepy enough to get you to lock your door at night.
The Enigma of Amigara Fault
In this story, an earthquake reveals strange, human-shaped holes dotted on the side of a mountain. The holes quickly intrigue the public, who find themselves unable to fight the urge to climb into the holes, claiming that they are made “just for [them].” The holes are never fully explained, which makes the story super weird and honestly kind of freaky; read at your own discretion.
More disgusting than creepy, Glyceride shows the plight of two siblings who live above their family’s BBQ joint. Due to poor ventilation, the air has nowhere to go but up, leading to grease, grease, and more grease! It’s probably one of the grossest stories you’ll ever read; many readers have said that it has led them to deep clean their entire house and shower right after.
Uzumaki is one of the most well-known Junji Ito works, and it’s because it’s also one of the most twisted. Set in a small, sleepy village, two friends slowly find out that the people around them are becoming deeply enamored with the spiral shape (the word uzumaki means “whirlpool”). The obsession becomes deadly, with spirals taking form in all shapes and sizes. Since its release, Uzumaki has been made into a live-action film and will be developed as an anime in October of 2022. Those who don’t want to read the manga can soon enjoy all the disturbing horror in its animated form!