ByRachael Rumancek, writer at
would love a vodka shower and a never ending supply of sushi. find me on twitter @rachaelrumancek
Rachael Rumancek

There is no denying the fact that Asian horror is a [sub] genre all its own. Commonly recurring themes, slow-burning development, puzzling and suspenseful storylines, and of course, the unnerving need to exploit all things taboo. Exploring Asian horror for the first time is like entering a whole new world of beautiful terrors you never knew existed. Vengeful spirits and scorned lovers, psychosis, creepy dead kids, dolls and even hair are some of the many recurring — yet always innovative — aspects you can expect to be haunted by.

Let's get started, shall we?

Dark Water

Country: Japan

The only thing more terrifying than Dark Water is the eerily coincidental real-life case of Elisa Lam. Check out the unsolved mystery here.

Battle Royale

Country: Japan

Long before The Hunger Games was a thing, Japan gifted humanity with Battle Royale.

Battle Royale II

Country: Japan

Aki Maeda and Tatsuya Fujiwara reprise their roles in the follow up to Kinji Fukasaku’s survival classic, Battle Royale.

Suicide Club (Suicide Circle)

Country: Japan

Suicide Club is darkly foreboding tale of the dangers of subliminal messaging delivered in a strangely upbeat and encapsulating manner.

Noriko’s Dinner Table

Country: Japan

Sion Sono’s sequel to his cult classic horror film Suicide Club.

I Saw The Devil

Country: South Korea

I Saw the Devil teaches you the meaning of the phrase, “revenge is a dish best served cold.” Both viciously satisfying and coldly empty this Kim Jee-woon film is a must see.

Ichi The Killer

Country: Japan

Brought to us by cinematic mastermind Takashi Miike, Ichi the Killer takes masochism and sadism to a whole new level. If you can manage to watch this blood and semen-packed gore fest without closing your eyes in disgust then congratulations! You have graduated to a level of depraved [horror] fandom that few of us ever reach. Be sure to check out the prequel, Ichi Origins.

A Tale Of Two Sisters

Country: South Korea

A Tale of Two Sisters is the perfect example of fusing the supernatural with psychosis into a mysteriously ominous tale of denial and grief.


Country: Thailand

It’s a supernatural thriller centered around sexy Thai dancers and witchcraft, so it’s obviously awesome.

Noroi: The Curse

Country: Japan

I love Asian cult horror and I certainly love found-footage. So, why not both?

The Vengeance Trilogy:

Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance

Country: South Korea

Park Chan-wook kicks off his vengeance trilogy with an unsettling story composed primarily of regret, revenge and a truly rare ability to ease its viewers into empathizing with all characters involved.


Country: South Korea

Incredible cast, epic fight scenes, and absolutely puzzling until the very end. Every detail of Oldboy serves a purpose and every interaction accounts for something.

Lady Vengeance

Country: South Korea

The conclusion to Park Chan-wook’s infamous trilogy serves up the most beautiful and pure-hearted retribution we have seen this far. Remember, sharing is caring.

Tokyo Gore Police

Country: Japan

Starring the talented Eihi Shiina (Asami) of Audition, Tokyo Gore Police is an insane science fiction horror film, jam-packed with plenty of gore, sexy ladies, human mutations and epic battle scenes. As a bonus, you will also bear witness to the creation of the world’s first hangry alligator-head-vagina. You are so very welcome.

The Maid

Country: Singapore

Dark and intense, The Maid is filled with the supernatural, conspiracy, and cultural superstitions.


Country: Japan

Who doesn’t enjoy creepy animal masks and a complete mental break?

I know this girl does.

Over Your Dead Body

Country: Japan

Hell has no fury like a woman scorned, but only legendary director Takashi Miike could make it both super sexy and utterly nauseating at the same time.

The Ringu Anthology:

Before Americans were cursed by the likes of Samara, Sadako was terrorizing the unsuspecting voyeurs of Japan. If you are a fan of The Ring you may want to check out the original Ringu movies, they are much creepier and significantly more unsettling than the American remake.


Country: Japan

Also check out: Ringu 2, Ringu 0, Rasen, as well as the recent reboot Sadako and Sadako 2.

Ju-On: The Grudge

Country: Japan

The Ju-On Franchise:

Adapted into the widely known, less spooky American horror film The Grudge, The Ju-On franchise consists of eight movies, two short films predating the movies (Katsumi and 4444444444), and an epic mash-up recently airing in Japan titled Sadako vs. Kayako.

Baby Blues

Country: China

Over the top in many ways, Baby Blues adds an interesting spin on possessed dolls and postpartum depression.


Country: South Korea

Don’t worry, this Cinderella story is certainly no bullshit fairytale.

Visitor Q

Country: Japan

Maybe this one should be a pass for some of you wimpier viewers, but if you can manage to sit through this depraved and disturbingly humorous Miike film, you are sure to learn the meaning of both lactational sex, and postmortem lubrication. Shit gets real weird in this one.

Rinne (a.k.a. Reincarnation)

Country: Japan

You may have seen this gem when it was released by After Dark Horrorfest in 2006, if you haven’t, I highly recommend it.

Voices (a.k.a. Someone Behind You)

Country: South Korea

Also making it onto one of the After Dark Horrorfest selections was Voices, a magnificent supernatural manifestation of paranoia and the perfect plot for a franchise of its own.


Country: Singapore

Unfortunately for these soldiers, battling supernatural entities wasn’t covered at the training camp.

Art Of The Devil

Country: Thailand

If you like this one make sure to check out the sequel, Art of the Devil II.


Country: Japan

Pleasantly surprising and superbly spooky, Pray is a staple in my paranormal collection.


Country: Thailand

You may have seen the popular American remake of Shutter featuring Joshua Jackson, which is no doubt a great movie, but the original is even better.

Carved (a.k.a. A Slit-Mouthed Woman)

Country: Japan

Based on Japan’s urban legend of Kuchisake-onna (translation: The Slit-Mouthed Woman”), Carved is a perfect example of Japanese ghost-story telling at it’s finest.

Dark Tales Of Japan

Country: Japan (obviously)

One of the best bargain buys I have ever scored at my local Bull Moose music store. Five gnarly horror shorts from some of Japan’s most acclaimed horror directors including Takashi Shimizu of The Grudge and Ju-On movies.


Country: Japan

I find Audition to be one of Takashi Miike’s most poetic films to date. If you only watch one movie from this list, I highly recommend that it be this darkly eloquent and slow-burning masterpiece.

Do you have a favorite Asian horror film that isn't on the list? Is there one you can't wait to watch now? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!