• Gabe Powers

Grinding the Stream June 2020 UPDATES: Japanese Cult Cinema

***This is going to be a mid-monthly tradition now, I guess. At least until social distancing standards are completely abandoned. Maybe even after that. Some updates will be bigger than others – it all depends on what differences I can find. I've also added HBO Max selections this month.***


Are you self isolating? Are you thinking about broadening your cinematic horizons? Perhaps you’d like to learn about a specific genre? I’m here to help. Staying in the East, this time we’re talking about Japanese cult movie titles available to stream RIGHT NOW.


Netflix and Hulu’s selection is weak, but Amazon Prime is pretty good, as are various free streaming services available via Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, et cetera. I compared a bunch and, for the sake of simplicity, I found the best in terms of content and video quality to be Tubi, Midnight Pulp (a "+" will be included wherever subscription fees apply), VUDU’s free selections, The Roku Channel, Shout Factory TV (though most of their titles can also be watched via Amazon Prime), Popcorn Flix, Dark Matter TV (again, a "+" will be included wherever subscription fees apply). And, of course, this is Criterion Channel’s time to shine. Shudder doesn’t do too badly, either. In fact, I’m not covering samurai movies, because Criterion Channel has a heck of a monopoly in that regard and I’m pretty sure every single one available is great (including the complete, cult-friendly Lone Wolf and Cub and Zatoichi series). Additionally, I’m not including Akira Kurosawa movies. If you have access to Kurosawa movies you haven’t seen yet, just watch them. Update: I will, however, be adding the things Criterion Channel is currently sharing with HBO Max.


Be warned – all of the free apps have ad breaks (I know, it sucks) and the video quality is inconsistent from app to app. Sometimes it's genuine HD, other times, it's sub-VHS. Apologies if I’ve suggested something with particularly grim A/V quality and be aware that the availability is based on the research I did on May 6, 2020. Given the nature of streaming media, I imagine very few of these titles will be available in perpetuity. I've included links to my own reviews of some of these films and be aware that, despite my classifications below, complete director filmographies are not currently available free/subscription streaming.



Kinji Fukasaku Movies

  • Battles Without Honor and Humanity/Yakuza Papers Series: Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973), Hiroshima Death Match (aka: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima, 1973), Proxy War (1973), Police Tactics (1974), Final Episode (1974) – Amazon Prime

  • New Battles Without Honor and Humanity Series: New Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1974), Head of the Boss (1975), Last Days of the Boss (1976) – Amazon Prime

  • Cops vs. Thugs (1975) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp +

  • Doberman Cop (1977) – Amazon Prime

  • Message from Space (1978) Amazon Prime

  • Virus (1980) Amazon Prime, Midnight Pulp, and Popcorn Flix

  • Legend of the Eight Samurai (1983) – Amazon Prime

  • Battle Royale (2000) – VUDU Free and Tubi


Seijun Suzuki Movies

  • The Boy Who Came Back (1958) Amazon Prime

  • Voice Without a Shadow (1958) – Amazon Prime

  • Smashing the 0-Line (1960) – Amazon Prime

  • The Madness of Youth (1960) Criterion Channel

  • Take Aim at the Police Van (1960) Criterion Channel

  • Tokyo Knights (1961) – Amazon Prime

  • The Man with a Shotgun (1961) – Amazon Prime

  • Teenage Yakuza (1962) – Amazon Prime

  • Youth of the Beast (1963) – Criterion Channel

  • Gate of Flesh (1964) – Criterion Channel

  • Born Under Crossed Stars (1965) – Midnight Pulp

  • Story of a Prostitute (1965) – Criterion Channel

  • Fighting Elegy (1966) – Criterion Channel

  • Tokyo Drifter (1966) – Criterion Channel

  • Branded to Kill (1967) – Criterion Channel

  • Kagero-za (1981) – Amazon Prime

  • Yumeji (1991) – Amazon Prime

  • Pistol Opera (2001) – Tubi


Takashi Miike Movies

  • Shinjuku Triad Society (1995) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Rainy Dog (1997) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Ley Lines (1999) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Audition (1999) – Shudder

  • Dead or Alive Series: Dead or Alive (1999), Dead or Alive 2: Birds (2000), Dead or Alive: Final (2002) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp +

  • Happiness of the Katakuris (2001) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Ichi the Killer (2001) – Shudder

  • Graveyard of Honor (2002) – Midnight Pulp

  • Gozu (2003) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Three… Extremes (anthology co-directed with Fruit Chan and Park Chan-wook, 2004) – Amazon Prime

  • Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) – Amazon Prime, VUDU Free, and Tubi

  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon (2007) – Fandor

  • Thirteen Assassins (2010) – HULU

  • Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011) – Amazon Prime and VUDU Free

  • Over Your Dead Body (2014) Shudder

  • Yakuza Apocalypse (2015) – VUDU Free

  • Blade of the Immortal (2017) – HULU

  • First Love (2019)Amazon Prime



Meiko Kaji Movies

  • Retaliation (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1968) – Amazon Prime

  • Outlaw: Gangster VIP 2 (Keiichi Ozawa, 1968) Amazon Prime

  • Stray Cat Rock Series: Alleycat Rock: Female Boss (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970), Wild Jumbo (Toshiya Fujita, 1970), Sex Hunter (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970), Machine Animal (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970), and Beat ’71/Crazy Rider ‘71 (Toshiya Fujita, 1971) – Amazon Prime

  • Blind Woman’s Curse (Teruo Ishii, 1970) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Female Prisoner Scorpion Series: #701: Scorpion (Shunya Ito, 1972), Jailhouse 41 (Shunya Ito, 1972), Beast Stable (Shunya Ito, 1973), Grudge Song (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1973) – Amazon Prime and Shudder

  • Lady Snowblood Series: Lady Snowblood (1973) and Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance (1974, both directed by Toshiya Fujita) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • (She also appears in Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima)


Shinya Tsukamoto Movies

  • Tetsuo the Iron Man (1989) – Shudder

  • A Snake of June (2002) Midnight Pulp +

  • Vital (2004) – Midnight Pulp +

  • Nightmare Detective 2 (2008) – Midnight Pulp

  • Tetsuo the Bullet Man (2009) – HULU


Kiyoshi Kurosawa Movies

  • The Guard from the Underground (1992) – Fandor

  • Cure (1997) Criterion Channel

  • Pulse (2001) – Tubi

  • Doppelganger (2003) Tubi and Midnight Pulp

  • Loft (2005) Tubi and Midnight Pulp

  • Creepy (2016) – Amazon Prime

  • Before We Vanish (2017) – HULU

Samurai Franchises

  • Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice (Kenji Misumi, 1972), The Snare (Yasuzō Masumura, 1973), and Who’s Got the Gold (Yoshio Inoue, 1974) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (Kenji Misumi, 1972), Baby Cart on the River Styx (Kenji Misumi, 1972), Baby Cart to Hades (Kenji Misumi, 1972), Baby Cary in Peril (Buichi Saito, 1972), Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (Kenji Misumi, 1973), White Heaven in Hell (Yoshiyuki Kuroda, 1974) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max (the re-edited American release, Shogun Assassin, is also available via Criterion Channel)

  • All 25 original Zatoichi movies are on Criterion Channel exclusively.


Bloodthirsty Trilogy

  • The Vampire Doll (Michio Yamamoto, 1970) – Amazon Prime

  • Lake of Dracula (Michio Yamamoto, 1971) – Amazon Prime

  • Evil of Dracula (Michio Yamamoto, 1974) – Amazon Prime



Japanese Horror, Ghost Stories, Other Weirdo Genre Stuff

This is a quite large and quite broad category, so take this as recommended movies that I assume haven’t been as widely seen as, say Ringu (1998) or Ju-on (2002).

  • Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Tokaido Yotsuya kaidan (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1959) – Criterion Channel

  • Jigoku (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1960) – Criterion Channel

  • Matango (Ishirō Honda, 1963) – Amazon Prime

  • Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1964) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Onibaba (Kaneto Shindō, 1964) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • The Face of Another (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1966) – Criterion Channel

  • Kuroneko (Kaneto Shindō, 1968) – Criterion Channel

  • The Living Skeleton (Hiroshi Matsuno, 1968) – Criterion Channel

  • Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (Hajime Sato, 1968) – Criterion Channel

  • Wolf Guy (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1975) – Shudder and Midnight Pulp

  • Hausu (aka: House; Nobuhiko Ōbayashi, 1977) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Evil Dead Trap (Toshiharu Ikeda, 1988) – Midnight Pulp

  • Battle Girl: Living Dead In Tokyo Bay (Kazuo Komizu, 1991) Midnight Pulp

  • Rubber's Lover (Shozin Fukui, 1996) – Midnight Pulp +

  • Organ (Kei Fujiwara, 1996) – Midnight Pulp +

  • Versus (Ryûhei Kitamura, 2000) – Fandor

  • Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (Naoyuki Tomomatsu, 2001) Midnight Pulp

  • Karaoke Terror (Tetsuo Shinohara, 2003) – Midnight Pulp

  • Marebito (Takashi Shimizu, 2004) Midnight Pulp and VUDU Free

  • Rampo Noir (Akio Jissoji, Suguru Takeuchi, Hisayasu Satô, and Atsushi Kaneko, 2005) Midnight Pulp

  • The World Sinks Except Japan (Minoru Kawasaki, 2006) – Midnight Pulp

  • One Cut of the Dead (Shinichiro Ueda, 2017) – Shudder


Other Crime/Yakuza Movies

  • Rusty Knife (Toshio Masuda, 1958) – Criterion Channel

  • The Sun’s Burial (Nagisa Oshima, 1960) – Criterion Channel

  • Danger Pays (Kô Nakahira, 1962) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Black Lizard (Umetsugu Inoue, 1962) – Criterion Channel

  • Cruel Gun Story (Takumi Furukawa, 1964) – Criterion Channel

  • Iron Finger (Jun Fukuda, 1965) – Criterion Channel

  • A Colt Is My Passport (Takashi Nomura, 1967) – Criterion Channel

  • Violence at Noon (Nagisa Oshima, 1966) – Criterion Channel

  • Massacre Gun (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1967) – Amazon Prime and Midnight Pulp

  • Golden Eyes (Jun Fukuda, 1968) – Criterion Channel

  • Vengeance is Mine (Shohei Imamura, 1979) – Criterion Channel and Fandor

  • Onimasa: A Japanese Godfather (Hideo Gosha, 1982) – Midnight Pulp



Godzilla Movies

  • Godzilla (Japanese: Gojira; Ishirō Honda, 1954) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Godzilla Raids Again (Motoyoshi Oda, 1955) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Mothra vs. Godzilla (Ishirō Honda, 1964) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Ishirō Honda, 1964) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Invasion of the Astro-Monster (Ishirō Honda, 1965) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (Jun Fukuda, 1966) – Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Son of Godzilla (Jun Fukuda, 1967) Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Destroy All Monsters (Ishirō Honda, 1968) Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • All Monsters Attack (Ishirō Honda, 1969) Criterion Channel

  • Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Yoshimitsu Banno, 1971) Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Godzilla vs. Gigan (Jun Fukuda, 1972) Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Godzilla vs. Megalon (Jun Fukuda, 1973) Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (Jun Fukuda, 1974) Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, and HBO Max

  • Terror of Mechagodzilla (Ishirō Honda, 1975) Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, and HBO Max

  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (Takao Okawara,1993) Roku Channel

  • Godzilla (Roland Emmerich, 1998) – Netflix

  • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (Masaaki Tezuka, 2000) – Roku Channel

  • Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (Masaaki Tezuka, 2002) – Roku Channel

  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Michael Dougherty, 2019) – HBO Max


Other Kaiju Movies

  • Rodan (Ishirō Honda, 1956) Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Dogora (Ishirō Honda, 1964) – Amazon Prime

  • War of the Gargantuas (Ishirō Honda, 1966) Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • The X from Outer Space (Kazui Nihonmatsu, 1967) Criterion Channel and HBO Max

  • Space Amoeba (Ishirō Honda, 1970) – Amazon Prime

  • (You didn’t hear it from me, but Mothra and the Gamera and Daimajin series might be on YouTube for free...)


© 2020 Gabe Powers