korean horror

Some months ago on the podcast when we reviewed Chan-wook Park's "Thirst," we remarked that South Korean filmmakers have a knack for taking common horror film concepts and spinning them in a way that's just different enough to make them stand out. In this tradition, 2006's "The Host," directed by Bong Joon-ho, manages to take the common monster movie framework, and craft it into a family-focused drama with hints of comedy and satire. Oh, and it also features a gigantic catfish monster with legs and a prehensile tail.

We debate the finer points of artficial sucking sounds.

South Korean director Su-chang Kong's 2008 military horror outing "The Guard Post" (aka "G.P. 506") opens with a scorcher: A squadron of heavily-armed soldiers storm the seemingly abandoned G.P. 506, an outpost which lies along the tumultuous North Korean border. Once inside, they discover the horribly mutilated bodies of countless young troops, all of which are scattered haphazardly around the base. The culprit, wide eyed and wild, stands before them drenched in blood, a large axe clutched in his hands. It’s one hell of a way to start the picture.

I've been following Jeong-won Shin's 2009 South Korean horror/comedy "Chaw" for several months now, despite the fact that, overall, I'm not really a huge supporter of the "animals run amok" genre. The reasons for my bizarre fixation are probably buried somewhere deep within the complexities of my DNA, remnants of our primitive, cave-dwelling past. I can imagine my ancestors running wildly through forests, their hearts pounding, hunted by large, pig-like creatures with a hankering for human organs.

A few months ago on the podcast we reviewed the American remake of "A Tale of Two Sisters", retitled as "The Uninvited". I handled the review for the site, and although it wasn't perfect, I really enjoyed what I saw:

One of the movies that has gained the most acclaim in the South Korean film industry's recent rise to prominence is Bong Joon-ho's “Memories of Murder”. The film was based on the true story of the first recorded serial killer case in Korea and the often shocking ineptitude of the Korean police. Na Hong-jin's debut feature “The Chaser” seems to beg to be compared to “Memories of Murder”.

Filmmakers who have opportunistically mined the endless depths of children's nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and the stories by The Brothers Grimm for cinematic inspiration have often yielded some very interesting, very mixed results.