A Look into Asian Horror Part Three: Thai Horror
As we continue to branch out into different areas of entertainment, I have the honour of hitting on a film genre that I am absolutely in love with. If the title didn’t give it away, that genre is Horror. Personally, I feel that the art of Horror has died in the United States, dumbing the movies down to PG-13 (for freaking teenagers) or overly relying on Gore, it is very rare anymore to find a good psychological horror flick or one that seeks out to scare the ever living hell out of you.
In my thirty-six years on this earth, I’ve probably seen over a thousand different horror movies from all over the world in my quest to find something genuinely scary. Honestly speaking, it is really hard for me to get scared during a movie, I am really desensitized to the typical scares, but I can enjoy a horror movie for what it is usually.
So to start with I’m going to look at twenty different Asian horror movies, from four countries, and rank them into top five’s for each country. I won’t give away the entirety of the movies, but I will add the synopsis for each and then give my personal take on the movies. I will avoid as many spoilers as I can, but obviously, there is a spoiler warning just in case it can’t be helped. I’ll also not go into too much detail about each movie, I am going to be talking about twenty of them after all.
So far we’ve visited Japan and China, showcasing five truly great horror films from each country. We’re going to jump on a boat and head to Thailand next. I got my first taste of Thai horror thanks to the Tartan Asia Extreme series and it’s been one of my favourite countries for horror ever since. Let’s take a look and hopefully introduce you to some new films.
#5. Shutter (2004) Not Rated horror/mystery/thriller
Synopsis: A young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident. They soon learn that you can not escape your past.
Shutter is a creepy and really scary horror movie. The story is very well developed, follows an excellent pace, and has a twist to an unexpected direction which leads to a great and consistent conclusion. The cinematography intensely explores the colour schemes very well and the effects are simple but stunning. This is one of the absolute best Thai horror films ever released and deserves to be on every horror fan’s watch list.
#4. Ghost of Mae Nak (2005) Not Rated horror
Synopsis: A young couple reawakens the spirit of a famous old Thai legend.
Ghost of Mae Nak is a pretty straightforward horror movie using the ghost and curse tropes effectively. It’s got a creepy atmosphere and has a bit of mystery and thriller added in to make a well-rounded movie. I saw this as part of the Tartan Asia Extreme series, one of my favourite films from Thailand. It has one of the best death scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie, which makes it worth watching in my eyes.
#3. See Prang aka Phobia or 4bia (2008) Not Rated horror/mystery/drama
Synopsis: A Horror Anthology featuring four different short stories. Some spoilers ahead.
The first segment, “Happiness” is about a lonely girl who corresponded with a stranger over hand phone text messaging and soon discovered something strange about this new stranger that she is attracted to. “Tit For Tat” spun a tale of black magic and vengeance for a school kid that had been bullied by a school gang. “In The Middle” – a group of friends faced one of their worst camping trips after a water kayaking accident.
The final segment “Last Fright” takes horror to new heights with a psychological thriller that involves a stewardess flying solo in a cabin with a dead body. 4Bia is a great anthology of Thai horror and the brief descriptions of all four segments should have you intrigued and eager to watch this film. Not for the faint of heart in my opinion.
#2. Cheuuat gaawn chim aka Meat Grinder (2009) TV-14 horror
Synopsis: A poverty-stricken woman starts a restaurant where she slaughters people and serves up human flesh, cut from her victims.
This will likely be the only TV-14 movie on any of my lists. Meat Grinder is a very gory movie in which bodily dismemberment and death play major roles, but this is only part of the movie. In many ways, Meat Grinder is more of a psychological horror film, exploring one woman’s mental disintegration when faced with infidelity and violence.
You could take out all the blood and guts and the film would be just as effective; it works best as a character study rather than a movie that just goes out of its way to nauseate. This film has drawn comparisons to the Chinese film Dumplings and with good reason. Both are disgusting watches for those who like gore and psychological horror films.
#1. Khon len khong aka Art of the Devil (2004) Not Rated horror/mystery
Synopsis: Boom, pregnant from an affair, is told by her lover to leave him and his family alone. Enraged, she goes to a witch doctor and has him use black magic against her ex-lover and his family.
Art of the Devil is one hell of a revenge story. It’s a terrifying ride from start to finish and it all comes full circle like all things with magic do. There are two sequels to this film and I cannot recommend them all highly enough. One of the best Thai horror films ever made, the original Art of the Devil just sucks you in and doesn’t let you go until the credits roll. When all is said and done, learn something from this film. Don’t mess with the dark arts.
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