In lieu of the news that Park Chan Wook's "Vengeance" Trilogy has and will be remade in different films including Spike Lee Adapting Oldboy, Lady Vengeance Remake and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (looking like they will be green lit), the vast, beautiful and unique world of most Asian cinematic horror is being lessened and cheapened by US studios. These 5 films have different stories and origins in their creation; they also have direction, style and unique visions that have not only made then pillars of Asian cinema but macabre masterpieces not to be touched.
1. Ab-Normal Beauty/Sei mong se jun (2004) Hong Kong -
Beyond that fact that it is my favorite film in the genre, this psychological gem directed by Oxide Pang Chun of the infamous Pang Brothers (The Eye series) has many layers to it and the dark spiral of obsession from different character points of view. The idea of photographing death and losing yourself in the ideal that death is true and uncensored beauty chills the viewer to the bone. Beyond the fact that the characters are beautiful, psychologically broken and provide and uneasy sensation throughout makes Ab-Normal Beauty amazing! Pang's direction and storytelling is layered with insanity, twists and creepy visuals that no US studio could ever replicate.
2. Audition (1999) Japan -
Methodical in its storytelling and considered by many including Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments to have one of the most tense, amazing and hard to watch final sequences in film history, Audition is a slow burn gem. Directed by the brilliant Takashi Miike and adapted from the Ryu Murakami novel, Audition's intensity and storytelling could never be handled by US audiences due to its disturbing content of torture, disturbing images, abuse and lack of action or instant violence or gore. The performances of Ryo Ishibashi & Eihi Shiina are iconic with seared images that darken your soul upon viewing. Miike's direction and Hideo Yamamoto cinematography produces images that sends chills down the viewer’s spin and twisted muscles from gagging and turning away.
3. I Saw the Devil (2010) Korea -
Directed by Kim Jee-Woon, I Saw the Devil may be one of the greatest revenge/horror films ever brought to life and especially since Takashi Miike's Old Boy. Brutal as it is stunning, Jee-Woon shows not only blood and guts but is able to direct and weave emotion, drama and tragedy into a powerful symphony that raises I Saw the Devil to elite Asian cinema. This emotional performance is capped off by amazing performances from Byung-hun Lee as the cop who is out for bloody revenge after his wife and unborn child is violate and butchered by psychopath Min-sik Choi the actin legend of Old Boy and Lady Vengeance. Beyond the true animal power and rage of I Saw the Devil, is a revenge story that carries so much power that it captures you and makes you feel each painful and insane moment. I Saw the Devil is a tale that is a masterpiece and that could not be appreciated by American audiences or given justice by US film companies for its performances, brutality and cinematography.
4. Marebito (2004) Japan -
Based upon a novel by and later written for the screen by Chiaki Konaka, director Takashi Shimizu's Marebito is a dark and chilling tale of obsession by freelance camera man Shin'Ya Tsukamoto who delves into the art of fear. Based in the tradition of urban legend and ghost stories, backdrop is a dark subway that is levels below the surface and a backdrop of madness. As Tsukamoto's character journeys deeper into this darkness, the spirits want back what was taken from them by in the subway below? Marebito style and feel is tense and very dark, very few US films can match it but none can capture Shimizu's direction or Tsukamoto's disturbing and curious performance.
5. Silk/Gui Si (2006) Taiwan -
Encompassing a brilliant story about a scientist and his team trapping a young ghost boy and studying his energy and collecting it with an invention called the “Menger Sponge”. The intelligent, supernatural revenge story of Silk mimics the glowing string that connects from beginning to conclusion. Directed and told with levels of complexity and suspense, Silk evolves from sci-fi supernatural story to revenge/crime thriller without ever losing its magical yet true horror foundation. Directed and written by Chao-Bin Su, this film weaves levels of technology, science and supernatural that never lets the viewer lose attention or become lackluster.
By Jay K Host of The Horror Happens Radio Show on HGRNJ.org (http://horrorhappens6.wix.com/show)