The Horror Pantheon: Hestia- Nobuo Nakagawa


Hestia – Nobuo Nakagawa

hestiaWho is she? The goddess of the hearth. Hestia keeps the fire going… and that’s pretty much it.

What makes her badass? Every single person worships you because fire is pretty important and thus,  eating. One of the only gods in history that is immune to Aphrodite’s lustful magic. You think the other gods are petty and retarded and would much rather have nothing to do with them than deal with their shit.

On the other hand…. Nobody knows who you are anymore.  Because all you do every day is sit in front of a fire to make sure it doesn’t go out, you have the worst social life of any deity. There are no cool stories about you and you voluntarily gave up your spot on Olympus for a drunkard, meaning you don’t even get to hang out with your brothers and sisters. Because of that, you’re the most forgotten god, but you like it that way.


Who is he? Nobuo Nakagawa. The greatest horror director you’ve never heard of: The Ghosts of Kasane Swamp (1957), The Lady Vampire (1959), The Ghost of Yatsuya (1959), Jigoku (1960), Snake Woman’s Curse (1968)

What Makes him Badass? Nakagawa’s influence on the look, atmosphere, and style of Asian horror, particluarly Japanese horror, is the most underappreciated thing ever. Everyone from Masaki Kobayashi to Hideo Nakata to Takashi Miike owe a debt to Nakagawa (or royalty payments to his estate) because Asian horror cinema, effectively, begins with Nakagawa. Considering how popular Asian horror is, that’s quite a legacy to lay claim to….

On the other hand… or maybe not. Possibly one of the gravest injustices in horror is the fact that only 12 people know his name and of those 12, only 3.8 appreciate his contribution to the genre. Much like Hestia, he is the great horror god that is forgotten about. His films aren’t as sexy as the other filmmakers on this list, which is probably why nobody remembers him. Nakagawa is destined to be underappreciated, sitting by himself with his ghostly folk tales.


So why this god? You’re going to see a, what I think anyway, is a terrible fact of the horror genre: the lack of great women filmmakers. There are definitely some quality female filmmakers around, but the sad reality is that the horror genre is a genre dominated by men, made by men, and much too often designed for men. Thus, the female goddesses on this list are all going to have males attached to them for the simple fact that there just aren’t female horror filmmakers that are in the same league or category as the males on this list. It’s unfortunate but that’s the reality. Nakagawa fits Hestia almost perfectly precisely because Hestia is the goddess nobody can ever remember when they are naming the 12 Olympians and Nakagawa is the director nobody can remember when they are making a “best” list. Though many of his horror films are certainly not amazing works, the conventions he established 50 years ago are still employed liberally by the Asian films and filmmakers out today. Frankly, there would be no Asian horror cinema as we have come to know it without Nakagawa, which makes his disappearance from the ranks of the greats all the more sad. But he is honored here! Jigoku is, undoubtedly, his masterpiece and demands to be seen by any self-described fan of horror, Asian or otherwise.

Next up, we finally begin the count down of the 12 Olympians that are generally accepted by the pop culture: Zeus, Hera, Ares, Athena, Hephaistos, Poseidon, Artemis, Aphrodite, Demeter, Apollo, Hermes, and Dionysus.



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