Alright, so the title is a little misleading. We have a large array of horror fans and I’d be foolish to think I’m the only one who has ever seen or heard of these Asian horror movies. However, for the most part when you talk to people about Asian horror movies you get a LOT of the same titles thrown around.
There is nothing wrong with that because there are some pretty damn good Asian horror films that most people have seen. With that said, I wanted to broaden people’s horizons and came up with a list of ten Asian horror films that often go overlooked. It’s a big genre so it’s my attempt to get people to branch out a little and get past all the scary dark-haired girls of Asian horror cinema.
10.) Men Behind the Sun (1988):
This is a tough one to start this list off with. Men Behind the Sun is really a war film, but it’s torture and brutality make this a very realistic horror film IMO. The storyline is revolves around a place called Squadron 731 where Japanese troops torture Chinese troops and use them as test subjects for a deadly plague during WWII.
The film is basically gore scene after gore scene with some pretty intense torture. This film is not for the weak stomached and probably not best for war vets as it is pretty grotesque. I’m not trying to spoil anything but just to warn you there is a scene where a real live animal is gruesomely killed and a real child cadaver is used for a scene. I don’t advocate either, but unfortunately its part of the “realism” they were striving for.
9.) Eko Eko Azarak series:
Here is a film series I am surprised hasn’t been remade yet. The reason behind this is this series is the definition of teen targeted Asian horror. It’s very similar idea to Buffy. It deals with young school girls dabbling in black magic and unleashing demons on each other.
However unlike Buffy, the Eko Eko Azarak films have more interesting characters, a great musical score, and much more explicit sex and violence. Even if you aren’t into a film about female students using black magic, check out the first film in the series Eko Eko Azark: Wizard of Darkness. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
8.) The Doll Master (2004):
I am pretty sure the title made everyone think Puppet Master and its a fair thought as it is sort of knockoff. However, this one isn’t built to be cheesy and actually is pretty creepy. It follows a group of students who were invited to see a private viewing of a doll gallery.
The dolls begin to kill the kids after a vengeful spirit brings the dolls to life. Pretty familiar plot but the dolls can be kind of creepy and the film is very well acted. It does start a little slow but I think it picks itself up as it moves along. For you gore hounds, there is some decent blood but nothing above and beyond what you’d expect.
7.) Alone (2007):
From the Writer and Directors of the original film Shutter comes another Thailand horror film that will keep you on edge. Alone revolves around a girl who survived being removed from her Siamese twin sister when they were teenagers. The other sister who died during the separation operation begins to haunt the surviving sister at her mother’s home.
The story is a bit familiar, but it is executed very well and is a great combination of suspense film and ghost story. It has the same kind of creepy feel that Shutter had and it builds to a successful yet somewhat predictable twist. Worth checking out is you thought the Asian version of Shutter was good.
6.) Rampo Noir (2005):
While many people know 3….Extremes, not as many know of the horror anthology called Rampo Noir. Rampo Noir is an artistically grotesque collection of 4 short films based on the writings of Edogawa Rampo, widely considered to be the Japanese Edgar Alan Poe. The whole compilation is dark, violent, and disturbing yet it is still stylishly poetic.
All four segments will get different reactions depending on the viewer, but watch segment three titled Caterpillar and tell me that didn’t leave you with a disturbing taste in your mouth.
5.) Marebito (2005):
Marebito is an asian horror movie that gets overlooked because of the directors other successful films. Takashi Shimizu, director of the wildly successful Ju-on Series, creates a very stylish film that is a little puzzling and a little uncomfortable. The film follows Masuoka as he discovers an underground tunnel run by creatures called Deros.
He finds a girl that he brings home to try to rescue but he soon finds himself at wit’s end trying to accommodate her insatiable appetite for blood. It is a film that will make you think and disturb you a little. Shot in only 8 days before Ju-On began filming, Marebito is an intriguing psychological asian horror film that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
4.) Ebola Syndrome (1996):
Straight out of Hong Kong, here is an asian horror movie that is a little Sweeney Todd mixed with Outbreak. The story revolves around a man who came down with the Ebola virus after raping a girl in South Africa. He returns to Hong Kong and begins to spread the disease in various ways such as unknowingly infecting people, killing them, and then serving them as burger meat in his restaurant.
This one is quite brutal as it is filled with over-the-top sex and violence. Its got all the blood and bodily fluid that anyone looking for a graphically violent film could ask for and even has some pretty good laughs as well. This is definitely one for those of you with a twisted mind.
3.) Jigoku (1960):
Foreign asian horror movies that date back almost 5 decades aren’t high on everybody’s “to do” list. However I think everyone should get their hands on Jigoku and see what was once Japan’s most gruesome and bizarre movie. This film is almost split into two halves because half takes place in life and half takes place in the afterlife.
The second half in Hell is definitely where things begin to get crazy but on the whole the film is an all-around treat. I see some of the gore and it makes me wonder if this can be considered one of the first gore films. Not too many other films were doing what they did with Jigoku back in 1960. I suggest you check this classic out and see for yourself.
2.) Cure (1997):
So this may be the most well-known film I am mentioning, but I still think there are enough people who havent heard of it to include it. Cure is Japanese equal to the US film Se7en. It is a slow-paced crime thriller/drama that follows a string of extremely gory murders. Every murder is committed by someone who doesn’t have any recollection of what happened or how they got there, but victim is linked with an X carved in their necks.
Cure is a film that has wonderful cinematography and is a great case study on madness. It’s almost hypnotic as it plays with your mind and keeps you thinking up until the end. A definite must see if you enjoy a blood filled crime themed asian horror movies.
1.) Noroi (2005):
Somebody send a note to the Blair Witch people because this is what a fake asian horror movie documentary should be. A journalist obsessed with the paranormal begins to investigate unrelated strange phenomenons. He eventually links them to a ritual to the demon Kagutaba and he will soon stop at nothing to uncover Kagutaba’s mysteries on film.
If someones handed me Noroi and told me nothing about it, I would have thought it was real. From start to finish the style made me feel like it was a true documentary and did so while maintaining a high level of tension. The suspense builds all the way to the perfect and completely unnerving ending. If you can find this movie, see it. You wont regret it.