Asia is at the cutting edge of horror cinema. Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea are all breaking the mould when it comes to the narrative and style of horror films. We only have to look at the popularity of Ringu, Ju on, Dark Water, The Eye. These films terrified Western audiences with their original story lines and fresh direction. All of them were given the Hollywood makeover but lost a lot of their power in translation.
For horror fans, the best place to be pleasantly surprised by horror films is from the continent of Asia. America seems to be stuck in slasher mode. It is a long time since I watched an American horror film and went “Wow”. They are at best – adequate.
This list is a celebration of some of the best Asian films that have been released for our viewing pleasure. Some of them are quite tame and some are quite extreme in nature so I have provided you with a smorgasbord of filmic goodness. If you are in any way a horror film fan, you must get these films in your life.
10. The Doll Master (2004)
Dolls! Scary killer dolls! Argh!
I do not like dollies or mannequins coming to life. It really scares the bejaysus out of me. Which is fantastic fun when it comes to watching horror films. This is definitely the best scary dolls movie I have ever watched.
The basis of the plot was quite confusing. There is something about during the Japanese occupation of South Korea, a doll maker falls in love with a woman in a red kimono and makes a huge life size doll in tribute to her. The woman falls in love with him too. When she is found murdered, the doll maker is blamed and killed. The doll sits by his grave, mourning his loss for all eternity.
Cut to the present day. Five young people have been called to an isolated mansion to have dolls made in their image by a paraplegic sculptor called Im. One by one they get knocked off by dolls that are controlled by Im because they are descendants of the vigilantes who killed the doll maker. A sculptor called Hae-mi is the only survivor. She is plagued by a young girl called Mina who turns out to be the soul of a doll she owned as a girl.
Im uses Mina to try and kill Hae-Mi but Hae-mi kills Im first. All the bodies and dolls end up going up in flames on a giant funeral pyre.
The film features the regular horror film stereotypes but the dolls are impressive. When you see them move their eyes for the first time, a little chill will run down your spine. The plot is a bit convoluted and by the end I was quite confused by the many different strands they were trying to tie up. The film is a bit cheesy due to the characterisation of its victims and some portentous dialogue. It also utilises the whole scary Asian woman with long dark hair falling down her face trick that is beginning to get a bit old. It’s not spectacular, but it is good fun. It proves South Korea are inventive Horror film makers and it should please 95% of Asian Horror fans.
This article was first posted on March 7, 2013