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Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
Produced by Mitsugu Okura
Written by Nobuo Nakagawa
Ichirō Miyagawa
Starring Utako Mitsuya
Music by Michiaki Watanabe
Cinematography Mamoru Morita
Editing by Toshio Goto
Release date(s) Japan:
July 30, 1960
Running time 100 min.
Country  Japan
Language Japanese

Jigoku (地獄 Jigoku ?, Literally: Hell) is a 1960 Japanese horror film, directed by Nobuo Nakagawa and starring Utako Mitsuya and Shigeru Amachi. Jigoku was re-made in 1970 by Tatsumi Kumashiro, and later re-made again under the title of Japanese Hell by Teruo Ishii in 1999.

Jigoku is notable for separating itself from other Japanese horror films of the era such as Kwaidan or Onibaba due to its graphic imagery of torment in Hell.

Jigoku was released on DVD in America from the Criterion Collection in 2006.


Plot summary

The story tells of a young theology student who flees a hit-and-run accident, he is plagued by both his own guilt-ridden conscience and a mysterious, diabolical doppelgänger represented by Tamura, who appears to know everyone's darkest secrets. Shortly after that, he tells his wife, who says he should tell the police. They take a taxi, which unfortunately has an accident, killing his wife. Eventually more deaths seem to occur around him, including his own which sends him plummeting into Hell.


Nobuo Nakagawa asked Ichirō Miyagawa to write the script, which was originally supposed to be called Heaven and Hell, under order of producer Mitsugu Okura.[1] Mitsugu Okura read the script and angrily said to Miyagawa that "Heaven is nowhere to be seen in this script!", to which Miyagawa jokingly replied that he would write about Heaven in the sequel.[1] Actor Yoichi Numata played Tamura in the film, and expressed that he had tried to analyze the role, but couldn't find the best way to play it.[2]

The film was not expected to be well received, as Shintōhō studio was considered to be a maker of low budget, gory films. Jigoku was made in a hurry, and was the last Shintōhō production. For the scenes which take place in hell, the cast and crew used Shintōhō's largest soundstage and put dirt over it.[3] In a recent documentary, a crew member said that normally it would be just the crew helping to build the sets, but because it was Shintōhō's last production, all the extras were helping.[4] Mamoru Morita said that Nobuo Nakagawa tried in many ways to make Jigoku different from other horror films from the time.[5]

In 1979 the acclaimed Nikkatsu Roman Porno director Tatsumi Kumashiro remade Jigoku for Toei.[6]


  1. ^ a b Miyagawa, Ichirō (Writer). (2007-03-13). Jigoku, DVD Extra: Building the Inferno. [DVD]. Criterion Collection.  
  2. ^ Numata, Yoichi (Actor). (2007-03-13). Jigoku, DVD Extra: Building the Inferno. [DVD]. Criterion Collection.  
  3. ^ Morita, Mamoru (Cinematographer). (2007-03-13). Jigoku, DVD Extra: Building the Inferno. [DVD]. Criterion Collection.  
  4. ^ Jigoku, DVD Extra: Building the Inferno. [DVD]. Criterion Collection. 2007-03-13.  
  5. ^ Morita, Mamoru (Cinematographer). (2007-03-13). Jigoku, DVD Extra: Building the Inferno. [DVD]. Criterion Collection.  
  6. ^ Sharp, Jasper (2008). Behind the Pink Curtain: The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema. Guildford: FAB Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-903254-54-7.  

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