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ALL NEW ASIAN HORROR FILMS SUCK...; ...BECAUSE THEY'RE "RING" RIPOFFS!
Topic Started: Jan 1 2008, 10:45 AM (694 Views)
WANYON
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Yeah, i know what you mean. Japan/Asia has fallen into that trap that America did a few decades ago of trying to milk a successful concept way too much. A damn shame. And i think THE SLIT-MOUTHED WOMAN has been out a while now hasn't it? So even THAT one is not exactly a new/up-and-coming release! The future looks bleak...

I can remember only around 3 years or so ago typing a long diatribe on an old forum/group i used to be a member of lashing out against the state of the American horror genre since the mid-1980s and being vocal about how Japan had always had a healthy and original horror scene since the 1960s. Sure, they didn't churn them out in droves and classics were not hitting cinemas like bugs hitting car windscreens...but they had a CONSISTENT history of decades of solid horror fare that never disappointed that exists to this day. Well, that was what i thought 3 or 4 years ago. I guess i am eating at least SOME of those words now as it seems Japan/Asia has gotten stuck in a little rut all of its own now...
Other statements i made back then were that Spanish cinema was on the rise and would continue to make waves as a result of the healthy slate of productions Filmax were putting out and with the likes of Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza, Nacho Cerda, etc. making waves. I even stated that i believed Jaume Balaguero was going to be the saviour of the horror genre and would continue to create dark horror films with oppressive atmospheres, nihilistic plots and grim endings for years to come. I think that statement was a bit ambitious. Balaguero made a classic in LOS SIN NOMBRE, a beautifully dark and scary English-spoken horror film in DARKNESS that narrowly misses being a classic due to come wooden performances from bit-players and some stilted dialogue and a much anticipated horror that promised plenty of queasy child-violence that was called FRAGILES that was very good yet lacked the visceral and dark punch promised by the grim concept and ended up feeling kind of ordinary. His episode of the Spanish TV series PELICULAS PARA NO DORMIR, titled "Para entrar a vivir" (aka "To Let") was about as good as DARKNESS or FRAGILES and had intense scenes, scary moments, thrills and spills and the teaser trailer for his latest film (a co-directorial effort with Paco Plaza), a horror film set in an apartment building called [REC.] looks like a genuinely scary effort the likes of which we have come to expect from him. But somehow, maybe due to the scripts and productions becoming increasingly more slick and mainstream, he has not quite lived up to what i predicted him to be those few years ago. Still, he is still a force to be reckoned with in the horror genre and has a long career ahead of him...
And the Spanish horror scene in general has seemingly wilted somewhat in recent years. Yuzna's deal with Filmax fell apart after a few years, probably due to the fact that the kind of product he started churning out was starting to feel more like American trash with only a European flavour to separate it from the pack. Films such as ROTTWEILLER did him no favours and soon he was going it alone again. Something similar happened with his WILD STREET PICTURES back in the late-1980s/early-1990s when they showed promise with films such as SOCIETY and BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR and soon forged a deal with Japanese partners to go into business on a whole array of interesting and promising films such as NIGHTWISH, DARKSIDE OF THE MOON and others that offered so much to salivate over from the juicy pics published in magazines such as FANGORIA and GOREZONE but turned out to be your average American B-flicks with occasional splashes of flashy gore FX. WILD STREET PICTURES promised to separate themselves from the rest of the companies out there by making genre films that were original...that stood out from what other companies were doing. SOCIETY and BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR promised and delivered on that idea. Japanese partners jumped on board expecting more of the same and even though those early photos in genre mags promised much the films that were produced in the wake of SOCIETY and the RE-ANIMATOR sequel were simply straight-to-video fare that were entertaining but largely unmemorable other than for some creative gore FX. WILD STREET PICTURES went under just a few years later as a result of not being able to continue backing up their original idea for the company, which was to produce exciting and fresh genre cinema that differed from the rest...Yuzna's deal with Filmax went the same way for the same reasons in my estimation...
Spanish horror is still alive, as is its dark-thriller counterpart, but it is not the world-force it was gearing up to be only a few short years ago. Even Balaguero is relegated (to some extent) to co-directing his last horror film and being a writer on the American remake of it (yes, there is ALREADY an American remake of [REC.] in production and the original has barely gotten out of the gate yet!).
As for Nacho Cerda, who blew us away with AFTERMATH and impressed with the beauty and haunting elegance of his GENESIS, he has only completed one feature to date, THE ABANDONED. The film is too slow for most non-European audiences i feel and so will probably not do Cerda's career many favours as far as getting him noticed or his name on the lips of horror fans in the States or Britain, yet the film is a haunting, dark, tense, scary and impressive chiller unlike many others. A shame that the world is still not ready just yet for that particular flavour of Euro-horror that the likes of Cerda make...

But as far as Oriental horror films are concerned, i can't say that i have really seen much of late that has stood out. Herman Yau's GONG TAU is great fun, with bucket-loads of gore and insanity, that is a new spin on that old favourite - the disembodied-entrails-attached-to-a-head-monster on the prowl! And there are some good dark, gritty B-movie horrors coming out of Malaysia and Thailand in the past couple of years that are worth watching like OUIJA (one review stating that it is scarier that the RING films and JU-ON films put together) and ART OF THE DEVIL 1 & 2...
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WANYON
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Hong Kong horror started taking a dive when they all started fretting about the handover towards the end of the 1990s. The CAT.III craze began to dwindle and there was a worry about what would be allowed under the handover. Once it was made apparent that mainland China would not tamper too much in Hong Kong's affairs it was too late anyway as the CAT.III psycho-horror/thriller sub-genre had slipped quietly into the darkness to avoid the glare of the mainland's wrath and a new wave of Hong Kong cinema featuring the latest cute male and female pop stars and models took over. I tuned out shortly after and Hong Kong has rarely grabbed my attention much in the past decade as a result...
Japan still put out some great genre films, but their ghost films have been doing just as much to damage the image of the country's horror industry as it has to promote it.
Thailand and Malaysia have been churning out small horrors for years but the past year or two have seen something of a mini-boom with some interesting titles being available on VCD, etc...

As for Yuzna making waves in Indonesia, i really don't see it happening. He has proved, with reasonable consistency, since the early-1990s that any company he forms is doomed to a short shelf-life. I predict one decent film to come out of the new partnership and then 2 or 3 years of low-grade fare that people will not bat an eyelid at. Yuzna seems to put effort into the first film or two he produces under a new company almost as though he realises the importance of showcasing the new production house's prowess with some solid films. But then it tends to quickly deteriorate into middle-of-the-road projects that seem to be designed to maximize money by splitting profits from the first couple of successes and spreading them over too many projects. I guess we'll see by the end of the decade where Yuzna is at. A shame though, as he is a decent enough producer and he also has reasonable talent as a director. I just think he has never quite been able to decide where his loyalties, passion and talent lies...

Another thing is the horror genre, for the most part, is a cyclical industry. It stays consistently strong at times when other film genres take a dip or peak but the originality of the material can take years to make waves again. When it does, there is a boom and then after everyone has jumped on the various bandwagons and milked them dry it peaks and falls back into its usual consistent state of healthy-enough survival. The Japanese ghost film peaked a good few years ago really and the American horror industry has been very weak since the mid-1980s, only showcasing the odd exceptional or original horror film on occasion over the intervening years. Mostly, sequels and teen horror flicks have been the main offender in the USA over the past 20 years with the past 5 or 6 years being a HUGELY shameful barrage of remakes. These remakes, combined with American companies' attempts to disarm the foreign horror markets by buying the worldwide rights to any film that makes waves, have also added to the woes of international genre films in the past few years. Remakes have kept the American carbon-copies in the public eye and the rights ownership of various foreign films means that the original films are kept in limited distribution. This serves the dual purpose of allowing Hollywood to appear as if it is creating fresh cinematic experiences and still rules the film world while limiting access to the original films they have remade which in turn weakens the international industry and its growing reputation amongst anyone other than the hardcore fans...
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