Or, actually, my ten favorites, but it seems much more controversial to proclaim them the ten best of all time. And this way encourages people to call me an idiot in the comments.
Non-linear narratives. Nightmarish visuals. Continuity errors out the wazoo. Alternating between a prudish approach to sex and gore and a no-holds-barred style. These are the things which leap to my mind when I think about Asian horror movies. I was a little late to the party, but once I discovered them, I began to watch a lot of the Asian output of terror flicks. My consumption has slowed of late – there’s only so many times you can watched a ghostly pale child with dark hair crawl down the wall – but I discovered some real gems. The usual caveats apply: These are my opinions, there are movies I’ve completely missed so they got left off, you may feel differently, etc.
1. R-Point – This ghost story about a Korean army unit investigating an SOS from another unit long since disappeared is truly creepy, with an unnerving ending.
2. A Tale of Two Sisters – This re-telling of a traditional Korean folk tale is not for the impatient or those with short attention spans. Only near the end, when (and if) you catch on to the central twist of the movie will any of the scenes prior make sense, but for those who stick it out to the end, it is worth the trip.
3. Kansen (Infection) – A nearly deserted hospital suffers an outbreak of a virus that causes the afflicted to undergo horrible changes. Or does it? It features three consecutive endings, who is to say which is real?
4. Audition – Miike Takashi’s masterpiece of violent obsession shifts gears twice. It starts out a drama, becomes almost a romantic comedy, and then turns into grisly horror in the third act. Owing a lot to Misery, this movie makes Annie Wilkes seem like a creampuff.
5. Ringu – Re-made as The Ring, at times it doesn’t make much sense, but a very effective fright flick.
6. Koma – Closer to a mystery than horror, this is a very well acted story of organ theft.
7. Ju-On – Remade as The Grudge, its influence has been blunted by an army of re-makes, sequels, and imitators.
8. The Eye – I liked this Pang Brothers’ movie a lot better before it was remade 100 times.
9. Eko Eko Azaraku – The Japanese version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer spawned two sequels and a television series. The original is a dark story which uses Christianity as myth in the same way western countries use Eastern religions.
10. The Host- I’m not as big on this Korean monsterfest as some. Many of the characters are too annoying to believe. But it is always nice to see an Asian monster that doesn’t want to stomp on Tokyo.
Narrowly missed the cut: Dark Water, One Missed Call. Let me know if you have any suggestions/corrections/insults.