Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Asian horror for sale

Horror website Fangoria features offerings at the American Film Market here, here and here.

Thailand had quite a few offerings, including The Commitment, which I've had the misfortune of seeing. Fangoria gave it a one-skull rating.

"One more movie about kids messing with the supernatural and the vengeful female spirit they inadvertently unleash. Ho-hum. Mark The Commitment as just another example that the Asians can make genre films just as derivative as us Americans."

Next up from the Land of Smiles was Lizard Woman, which is playing in theaters right now. Much as I love lizards and other creepy crawlies, I'm not a big fan of the horror genre and Lizard Woman is one I've not taken the opportunity to see. I needn't bother, according to Fangoria, which give it one skull.

"Watch out for an army of gecko spirits in Lizard Woman, a confused Thai fright flick about scientists investigating the jungle bogeywoman of the title. The film’s marred by cheesy CGI FX and a plot that would embarrass Charles Band."

A better rating went to the Pang Brothers' The Eye 2, which "has nothing to do with the previous film, except the fact that the lead character (a suicidal pregnant woman) also sees dead people," says Fangoria. Here's more:

"The sequel has much lesser ambitions than the large-scale spectacle of the previous Eye, preferring to pare back the story and FX with probably a fraction of the first film’s budget. That said, The Eye 2 introduces a few new concepts to the ghost-pic formula, in regards to birth, death and reincarnation. Plus the acting’s good and the scares earned."

Lions Gate (not Miramax, thank goodness) picked up the rights to this. It earned a three-skull rating from the reviewer.

In the pan-Asian category for this entry, there was Three...Extremes, which I intended to see when it was playing here, but the run was too limited and I missed it. Three...Extremes earned a three-skull rating.

"Three...Extremes represents an audacious and ambitious approach to a horror anthology. Three directors from three different countries contribute segments that more than live up to the title. Hong Kong’s Fruit Chan, South Korea’s Park Chan-Wook and Japan’s Takashi Miike spoon out uncomfortable images of abortions, mutilation and child murder, with Miike somehow emerging as the least excessive of the trio. The episodes are beautifully photographed (especially the first, Dumplings, shot by Christopher Doyle and also expanded by Chan into a feature-length version (which is playing here in Bangkok now, so I'd better get over to House), and there is not one conventional EC-style ending in the crowd. Lions Gate nabbed the North American release rights."

One Thai company alone, CM Pictures, offered a full slate at the American Film Market. Fangoria offers the following rundown:The Brutal River (killer crocodile); Women Last Night (tragic ghosts); Big Bird (just that!); The Ranger (killer snakes); The Trek (young, pretty researchers combat snakes, scorpions and centipedes); Ghost Delivery (spirits on the Internet); Curse of the Sun (death, retribution and a zombie lover) and Soul (an anthology).

The Sisters, in which the ghost of a decapitated prostitute haunts an air-conditioning vent, may be the strangest of the bunch. Media Blasters picked up this Thai terror flick, perhaps enticed by the tagline that alleges: "Based on a true story that shocked the entire country."

What most of these Thai movies have in common are lush locations, low-rent CGI and directors with last names only their mothers can pronounce.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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