Every year, we've gotten into the habit of doing a couple of Top 50 lists in various issues throughout the year, our October issue being one of those (and unfortunately a wee bit belated this year for reasons explained in this issue's editorial).
In 2009, our first year, we did the Top 50 Horror Films
In 2010, we followed up with our staff picked Top 50 Horror Novels/Collections/Anthologies
Well, this year, we've returned to films once more, but this time with a twist. A little Asian twist, that is.
And when you're looking for the best in Asian horror films, we happen to be lucky enough to have on staff a woman who is undoubtedly one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet, when it comes to the subject of Asian horror cinema. She is the multiple nominated and award winning Stoker author/editor Lisa Morton. Lisa is very well regarded in the industry for her knowledge and has been a guest speaker on the subject, has appeared in several cable network specials on such subjects as "women in horror" and "Asian horror films", among many others. One of her many books in particular is now considered by many as a cult classic regarding THE CINEMA OF TSUI HARK.
Lisa was kind enough to compile the massive list which follows, even though, like most of us on staff, she's fighting to hit deadlines galore on her other projects. So, on behalf of myself and the staff, I give a huge thanks to Lisa for having taken the time to do so. I know it took a huge chunk of time, time which she could ill afford, Lisa has such an obvious passion for Asian horror that she couldn't resist. Her knowledge of all film and books is staggering, to the point that many in the industry consider her something akin to a walking encyclopedia when it comes to both.
Of course, especially in Asian horror and dark fantasy cinema.
Below, you will find what I believe has to be the greatest Top 50 Asian Horror Films of All Time you're ever likely to find. You will find as many do who are fans of Asian films in general, that the genre lines aren't quite as strict as they have typically been in the past in Western film making. You'll find dynamic, and sometimes even comedic, martial arts sitting comfortably right next to traditional vampires and zombies in their folklore and sometimes borrowed Western versions of those old world Gothic monsters; you'll also find magical realism next to brutal realism; the physical and the supernatural admixed to the point that the differences between the two states of being blurred beyond recognition. Also, there is a surprising sense of female empowerment in Asian cinema that has been a standard far longer with them than in Western cinema.
Over the past couple of decades, many things in Western cinema have changed as well, and I believe that is due in great part to the influence of the typical genre bending and folding which they've been doing in the East since the beginning of their own film industry.
So take a gander at the list below. It is a hell of a resource, folks. If you're even slightly interested in an education in the basics of Asian horror/dark fantasy/thriller/speculative cinema has to offer the internationally minded Horrorhead, seek and ye shall find.
I tried in as many cases as possible to find the original trailers, mostly without subtitles, for the express purpose of illustrating the power of image over spoken word as narrative engine. I think you'll find it works very well. And for all you storytellers out there, like myself, I believe it will be an education on the power of imagery in storytelling, over dialogue exposition.
So enjoy...learn...and get ready to open your mind to a whole new world of international cinema that blows away our horror films in so many ways, on so many levels.
(NOTE: The list is ranked in descending alphabetical order, not in order of importance.)
50. Bandh Darwaza (India, 1990)
49. Battle Royale (Japan, 2000)
48. Bio-zombie (Hong Kong, 1998)
47. Black Magic (Hong Kong, 1975)
46. Bloody Reunion (South Korea, 2006)
45. The Bride With White Hair (Hong Kong, 1993)
44. The Butterfly Murders (Hong Kong, 1979)
43. A Chinese Ghost Story (Hong Kong, 1987)
42. Dangerous Encounter - 1st Kind (Hong Kong, 1980)
41. Dark Water (Japan, 2002)
40. Death Note 1 and Death Note 2: The Last Name (Japan, 2006)
39. Diamond Hill (Hong Kong, 2000)
(NOTE: Sorry, but unfortunately, there seem to be no trailers and/or scene videos of this film available at this time. I was lucky to find the above jpeg.)
38. Dog Bite Dog (Hong Kong, 2006)
37. The Dorm (Thailand, 2006)
36. Dream Home (Hong Kong, 2010)
35. Dumplings (Hong Kong, 2004)
34. The Eye (Hong Kong, 2002)
33. Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (Japan, 1999)
32. Godzilla (Japan, 1956)
31. H: The Movie (South Korea, 2002)
30. Hansel and Gretel (South Korea, 2007)
29. The Host (South Korea, 2006)
28. Inner Senses (Hong Kong, 2002)
27. Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (Hong Kong, 1972)
26. Jigoku (Japan, 1960)
25. Ju-On: The Grudge (Japan, 2002)
24. Kwaidan (Japan, 1964)
23. Mr. Vampire (Hong Kong, 1985)
22. Mother (South Korea, 2010)
21. Mystics in Bali (Indonesia, 1981)
20. One Nite in Mongkok (Hong Kong, 2004)
19. Painted Skin (China, 2008)
18. The Quiet Family (South Korea, 1998)
17. Ringu (Japan, 1998)
16. A Snake of June (Japan, 2002)
15. Song at Midnight (China, 1937)
Song at Midnight (????) First Chinese Horror Movie
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14. Spirited Away (Japan, 2001)
13. Spooky Encounters (Hong Kong, 1980)
12. Swordsman 2 (Hong Kong, 1992)
11. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (South Korea, 2005)
10. A Tale of Two Sisters (South Korea, 2003)
9. Tell Me Something (South Korea, 1999)
8. Tetsuo:The Iron Man (Japan, 1989)
7. Tokyo Gore Police (Japan, 2008)
6. Tropical Malady (Thailand, 2004)
5. The Twins Effect (Hong Kong, 2003)
4. Ugetsu (Japan, 1953)
3. The Untold Story (Hong Kong, 1993)
2. Visible Secret (Hong Kong, 2001)
1. We Are Going to Eat You (Hong Kong, 1980)