Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks - Asian Horror

Written for the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. It's SPOOKY for the month of October! Join us by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and telling us about them.
For this week's Halloween Special Edition, the theme is Asian Horror. I will fully admit, I have not seen a whole lot of horror films in general, let alone ones from Asia. HOWEVER, I have seen just enough to have some to pick from. God bless the Criterion Collection, which introduced me to most of these. Since a bunch of people said they weren't going to participate this week due to their lack of knowledge of Asian horror, I've gone the extra mile and picked four instead of three this week.

Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953) Based on two Japanese folk tales, Ugetsu is one of the most beautiful, restrained ghost stories ever put on film. It takes place during the Civil Wars of 16th Century Japan, where two ambitious peasants leave their little village to make their fortunes. The potter Genjuro wants to sell his wares to the wealthy while his brother-in-law Tobei wants to become a samurai. After their village is sacked, they decide to take their wives with them to the city, but soon Genjuro sends his wife back to the village, telling her he will return soon. Eventually the two men get what they want, but the price they have to pay...

Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1964) Kobayashi's masterpiece tells four ghost stories (the title actually translates to ghost story). The first ("The Black Hair") is actually similar to that of Ugetsu, but the ending is more scary than sad - a man divorces his wife to live with a wealthier woman in the big city, but finds himself even more unhappy in his second marriage. He leaves his second wife and returns to his first, only to get quite the rude awakening after spending the night with her. The second ("The Woman of the Snow") involves an ice ghost who freezes men to death and bleeds them dry. The third ("Hoichi The Earless") is about a blind musician who is so talented that the underworld comes calling. And the last ("In a Cup of Tea") is based on an unfinished story about a soldier who sees a ghostly reflection in the titular drink. To call this film stunningly gorgeous is to do it a disservice. It is right up there with The Red Shoes as one of the most beautiful films ever made.

Io Island (Kim Ki-Young, 1977) The titular island is one straight out of legend - women rule and all the men who arrive mysteriously disappear. So of course a developer wants to build a tourist resort there and sends someone to investigate the strange happenings. It's sort of like a Korean version of The Wicker Man, except stranger.

House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977) This is without a doubt the weirdest fucking movie I've ever seen. If you ever need proof that everyone in the 70s was high as fuck on every drug available, just point to this nearly indescribable movie. The plot is fairly basic: Seven Japanese schoolgirls (sporting such on-the-nose names as Gorgeous, Melody, Prof and Kung Fu) go on a trip to Gorgeous's aunt's house in the country for summer break. Neither the aunt nor the house are anything like what they seem. Except that how the story is told is... well... just watch the trailer. It'll give you a pretty good idea of the utterly bizarre insanity on display. Words simply cannot describe this one. It needs to be seen to be believed.

12 comments:

  1. Well, I'm sold on House lol. It's not on Netflix though. I went an extremely predictable route this week. I need to see more Asian horror.

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    1. House is on Hulu, along with most of the rest of the Criterion collection. It is quite the bonkers movie.

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  2. Your first is the only one I've heard of and might eventually see. I'm one of those who has zero knowledge of this particular genre.

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    1. Ugetsu is really, really great. But if you're only going to watch one of these, make it Kwaidan. It's incredible.

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  3. Haven't seen any of these, though Ugetsu has been on my radar for quite a while. Those others all sound amazing. Thanks for some new titles to seek out.

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    1. I have a feeling you will LOVE House.

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  4. Oh the first 2 films really intrigue me and I wish I could find them especially the 2nd one. I love the look of that film-it looks very beautiful. Now, as for House, I agree, they are on drugs topped of by cough syrup laced with LSD

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    1. Boht Ugetsu and Kwaidan are Criterion releases, and are available digitally on Hulu and iTunes (I think). They are both WELL worth it.

      House is so completely bonkers that I find it hard to believe it actually exists.

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  5. Oh all the classic movies. I haven't seen any of them. House seems very intriguing, although I spot some cliches there. But Ugetsu and Kwaidan kinda reminds me to Rashomon, the horror version though.

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    1. The cliches in House are part and parcel of the whole thing: what it does with them is CRAZY.

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  6. Wow I haven't seen nor heard of any of them. They are older movies so that makes it a lot harder to see. Are they all criterion?

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    1. Only Io Island isn't Criterion, but that YT video may or may not be the whole thing...

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