Asian Horror and the Remakes…
I thought I’d run through another top 10ish list with a difference, Asian horror and their cash-in remakes… I say ‘ish’ because I couldn’t finish it as it was making me angry.
Ringu (1998) Japan. The most successful horror film in Japanese history. Directed by Hideo Nakata’ who is responsible for a few more entries on this list. Ringu is unnerving and creepy, especially over the last half hour or so, a classic of the genre. Stylistically, Ringu would have to be one of the most influential horror movies of the last few decades. Spawned three additional movies: Rasen, Ring 2 and Ring 0: Birthday; all of which are diluted versions of the original. It’s easy to see why it was incredibly popular as there was nothing like it before… unfortunately we can’t say the same about movies since its release.
The Ring (2002) US. Naomi Watts. Big budget US remake starring Naomi Watts and directed by Gore Verbinski. Unexpectedly for a huge Hollywood remake, this was actually a pretty good teenage horror film. Helped by a good performance from Naomi Watts, it made a huge amount of money at the box-office and paved the way for the countless remakes of other Asian horror… so it has a lot to answer for…
Ju-on: The Grudge (2003) Japan. A volunteer social worker is cursed and haunted by the vengeful spirits that live in the house of an elderly woman. Creepy blue kid with black eyes and his seriously screwed up mother. It has some genuinely creepy moments.
The Grudge (2004) US. More of the same, remade with Sarah Michelle Geller. As with the US remake of the Ring this has higher production values but adds little to the original.
Dark Water (2002) Japan. More similar Japanese ghost themes. A divorcee and her daughter move into a rundown apartment block… there’s a leak in the ceiling. She discovers that the water is coming from an upstairs apartment that was previously occupied by a girl of similar age to her daughter, the girl went missing.
Dark Water (2005) US. Rubbish and pointless remake that has nothing really going for it apart from Jennifer Connolly who I’ll watch in anything.
The Eye (2002) Hong Kong. Apparently the original is really good. I haven’t seen it as I can’t be bothered since I saw the woeful ‘Bangkok Dangerous’ remake the directors did of their own better original.
The Eye (2008) US. Bigger budget remake by French co-directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud who made the far superior ‘Them’ in 2006. An eye transplant allows the recipient to see dead people. Jessica Alba is always good to look at, pity she didn’t look elsewhere for another role.
Shutter (2004) Thailand. – Tartan Asia Extreme. I’ve not seen the original but can only imagine that it is so much better than the remake.
Shutter (2008) Poland/US. I use the term loosely, ‘starring’ Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor as a newlywed couple who move to Japan for the husbands’ new job as a fashion photographer. There’s a car accident and a young girl dies… strange blurs appear on his photographs. His wife thinks they may be the spirit of the girl from the accident… Rubbish.
One Missed Call (2004) Japan. Directed by Takashi Mike who’s more famously known for the brutal and disturbing ‘Ichi The killer’ and ‘Audition’, of which both are worth checking out. A Japanese ghost story with possession themes revolving around people receiving calls from their future selves as they succumb to violent deaths. Another ghost with long black hair…
One Missed Call (2008) US. Unintentionally hilarious remake. Woeful…
Into The Mirror (2003) South Korea. Haven’t seen it, but I saw the US remake on the strength of Alexandre Aja as the director….
Mirrors (2008) US. And I wish I hadn’t. Aja’s worst movie. He did good things with the ‘Hills Have Eyes’ remake… he should have quit while he was ahead.
I can’t be bothered to do any more. There are sequels aplenty to Ringu and The Grudge… When I first saw Ringu at the now defunct Valhalla Cinema in Glebe, it was a new kind of creepy horror film with a look and feel which I’d never seen before. That initial feeling has been dissipated by all the remakes that have followed.
Japan especially needs to come up with something other than long-black-haired-big-eyed ghosts. We’ve seen it too often now and it’s lost whatever shock value it once had. More importantly though, Hollywood needs to come up with something original for a change. The countless remakes are making the big studios some easy money so it’s highly unlikely that they will stop the by-numbers remakes any time soon. They’ve trawled through Asia and Europe for movies to remake and now appear to have turned their sites on remaking American horror… eating their own. Maybe I’ll rant about that soon.