Ghost in the Shell [攻殻機動隊 Kōkaku Kidōtai] (1995)
AKA Armored Riot Police
Starring Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ohtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi, Kōichi Yamadera, Yutaka Nakano, Tamio Ohki
Directed by Mamoru Oshii
It’s hard to imagine Ghost in the Shell as old. But here it is, nearly 20 years later, and the film still feels unrelentingly futuristic, far more than other science fiction films of the time like Total Recall, or even The Matrix which this film inspired. It probably has to do with Masamune Shirow, the series’s original creator, being so in touch with computer technology and engineering. Ghost in the Shell doesn’t just feel futuristic; it feels very real and absolutely believable. And that’s what makes it all the more frightening.
It isn’t a horror film by any means, but the concept of getting brainwashed by a computer hacker is scary as hell. We like to think of our souls, our personal identity, as something beyond the ability of others to touch, but not in this film. This is a future where your memories can be rewritten at any time, and “ghost hacking” is as common as computer viruses are today. For my money, that is far more frightening than any boogeyman jumping out of the shadows.