With Halloween just around the corner, we here at FilmSmash have a few suggestions to get you in the mood for probably the most fun of holidays. While what is ‘scary’ may vary from culture to culture, horror movies persist in pretty much all countries simply because people love being scared. Not meant to be a Top 10 or anything of the sort, these films described below may be fun, scary, dramatic and sometimes all at once.
Tale of Two Sisters, from Kim Jee-Won, is moody, atmospheric, and intellectually stimulating. It’s the rare film that is so well put together you have indelible images from it burned in your memory. Offering a true modern Gothic sensibility and amazingly good performances, it is a film that demands discussion and analysis. Kim has since gone on to bigger budgeted films, but Tale of Two Sisters remains my favorite Kim Jee-Won film and my favorite horror film of all time. I have not seen the English language remake, but when the original is this good, to quote David Strathairn, “What’s the point?” (voltin)
The Eye, from the Pang Brothers, is a deeply creepy and effective horror film. Using a great deal of visual panache and imagery, the movie is a great piece of art. Though they’ve dabbled in horror since, they’ve never been able to capture the magic of this effort. The calligraphy scene is one of the few horror scenes to actually make me jump, and the nature of the horror is distinctly human. (voltin)
The Eye, The Pang Brother at their very, and only best. This nice little gem delivers some pretty good scares and will catch first time viewers off guard. Solid performance from Angelica Lee, and one of the better Pang Brother horror films next to their CGI heavy Re-Cycle. Skip the Sequels Eye 2, Eye 10 & The Child’s Eye, sadly none of these match the freshness of the original. A breakout hit for them in 2002, sadly when ever they release new projects, I am stuck comparing them to The Eye. Arguably their 2006 Re-Cycle is the closest they come to hitting the mark.(Hitman-Reloaded)
The Ring, aka Ringu, is probably the reason Asian horror has been so big in recent years. Shot on a modest budget, it effectively tapped into the scary side of technology. Anchored by strong performances all around and an incredibly solid story, it is a must see for any horror fan. It’s probably the reason you are reading this. (voltin)
Dumplings is one of those movies that taps into one of the ancient taboos that ‘civilized’ cultures really find repentant. It is a movie that is well acted, atmospheric, and creepy. The feeling you get from watching the film is so unsettling that the film will be burned into your memory. (voltin)
Audition is a film with quite a reputation. Very divisive among viewers, the first half is almost Hitchcock-ian in its depiction of a man looking for a woman via a selection process of interviews. He’s sympathetic, even through his eerie method. When the film descends into the final act however, is one of the most disturbing film finales in memory. Sadistic and chilling, this film is not for the squeamish. (voltin)
Another Takashi Miike film, One Missed Call is his attempt at a more mainstream horror film. It starts out similar to many films of the same ilk, but it becomes clear that Miike is no genre artist. A particularly chilling ‘live’ segment in the film is both grotesque and memorable. Good performances and a solid ending have helped the film’s character of Mimiko become a J-Horror icon. Indeed, when Miike makes a film that isn’t crazy, the end result is typically better than his uneven filmography would suggest. (voltin)
Shutter, from Thailand, is probably the country’s most accessible horror film. Creepy and atmospheric, it introduced the art of a horror film to many Thai audiences,who were familiar with schlocky style horror. Well acted and genuinely scary, Shutter demonstrated that Thai cinema had more to offer than flying elbows and knees. (voltin)
House, from Japan, is one of the oddest but most entertaining horror films from the 70s. Strangely psychedelic, its tale about a haunted house is so wacky and intense, my jaw was surely on the floor on my first viewing. Very much a film best enjoyed with a crowd, House was even deemed worthy of a Criterion release, an honor not easily afforded to horror movies. (voltin)
Bio-zombie is not a good film. It is however a heck of a lot of fun. This tale of a zombie virus breaking out at a HK shopping mall is cheesy and hilarious. Bad makeup effects and overacting abound throughout, but damn if you don’t enjoy the ride. With names like Crazy B and Woody Invincible as your heroes, you wouldn’t expect yourself to root so hard for them, but the comedic chops of Jordan Chan and Sam Lee make it easy. (voltin)
You may be wondering if there are any family-friendy Asian horror movies for kids? I can think of one and it’s actually my favorite Takashi Miike film. Kids love tame horror movies too (Ghostbusters, Legend, Gremlins, Nightmare Before Christmas), so the best Asian horror film for the kiddies is Takashi Miike’s THE GREAT YOKAI WAR. This film is a fairytale-nightmarish-fantasy film that is pure genius and one hundred percent eye candy. While the film may be slightly politically incorrect for those American kids, YOKAI WAR was marketed as a Japanese family film. With some freaking scary moments, this film is absolutely unique and amazing. If you like any of the movie’s characteristics listed below and if your kids are old enough to read English subtitles, then let them experience THE GREAT YOKAI WAR:
2. Japanese mythical folklore
3. The nightmares of Terry Gilliam and Guillermo del Toro
4. A Mathew Barney CREMASTER movie made for the average Joe.
5. A G-rated JACOB’S LADDER
7. Industrial sci-fi
8. Monsters straight out of the Mos Eisley Cantina bar in STAR WARS
9. Monster robots from the TWISTED METAL video game
10. Sexiness a la LABYRINTH and LEGEND
11. Gogo from Kill Bill dressed all in white, kicking ass with a whip
12. The best parts (robots/machinery coming alive) of Miike’s DEAD OR ALIVE trilogy
13. Jim Henson’s crew all on drugs
This movie is a perfect balance of Takashi Miike’s brain – horror, comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, nightmarish imagery, elegant pretty imagery, memorable characters, excellent CGI and trippiness. THE GREAT YOKAI WAR is a masterpiece for its genre. I love this movie and I’m dying to watch it again. And if you have kids that can handle a little wacky and scary imagery done in a creative and charming way, then let them check out this film as well!