FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #49
Director(s): Fruit Chan, Park Chan – Wook, Takashi Miike
Writer(s): Lillian Lee, Park Chan – Wook, Bun Saikou, Haruko Fukushima
Starring: Bai Ling, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Lee Byung-hun, Im Won-hee, Kyoko Hasegawa, Atsuro Watabe
Asian Horror Avengers AAAAAAASSSSSEEEEEEMMMMMBBBLLLLEEEE! Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, we can begin gushing over this excellent sampling of fine Asian cinema in the form of entertaining horror anthology! Besides my love for tightly packed bundles of scares that are horror anthology movies, what makes this flick so special is the trio of talent that they were able to land in one excellent package. Each director has made their mark in cinema, especially in their respective countries in Asia which makes this movie the perfect charcuterie plate to satisfy your cinematic pallet. Although this flick is traditional horror anthology in the sense that they consist of a trio of horror shorts, this feels more like entries in a horror film festival. There is no storyline that ties everything together, simply just three movies that span the field of what makes horror flicks so great. From each tale comes the promise of a distinct look and style that makes you feel uneasy by the time it’s over but then another tale comes whizzing by and you feel like you’ve walked into another movie theater. I remember watching movies from all three directors and the underlying theme was their movies always made me uneasy afterwards with my own thoughts. The style and story of these flicks captured my senses to the point where it lingers with me way after the movie was over and now these cats were brought together to present some horror goodness for all to enjoy.
This entry takes the approach of classic horror fable, specifically, what happens when vanity leads to terror! Directed from Fruit Chan (Made in Hong Kong), this story centers around an aging actress whose life revolves around looking beautiful. She does find a cure that rejuvenates her youthful looks by eating a special batch of dumplings. The payoff revolving around the dumplings make this flick worth every minute but the buildup on what how desperate the main character becomes to stay beautiful makes this entry so classic in its approach to make the audience cringe in being careful what you wish for!
I expected nothing less than insanity from the director of Oldboy, Park – Chan Wook and he delivered BIG time with his horror entry that went the route of tense horror sprinkled with nice sequences of gore. The story takes the road of tense abduction horror that puts our characters in compromising positions both physically and (more importantly) psychologically. Visually, this movie is stunning with the traps set by the captor putting the victims in some contraptions that would even make fans of Saw blush. I could not get over how beautiful the scenes came together visually but then when you add the mental torture the main character goes through, it makes you appreciate this terrifying tale that much more.
Now this is the kind of entry that made the infamous Takashi Miike famous, his films such as Audition were horror powerhouses on their own but for me, his signature has always been his ability to make you feel uneasy about life after watching any of his flicks. There aren’t too many jump scares or excessively gory scenes (not for this FEARtastic Vault Keeper anyhow) but I find myself laying at bed at night in the dark still thinking about the visuals and the story that makes his movies so damn creepy. His entry in this is no different with the main character trying to solve mysteries from her past involving her twin sister. There are scenes that stick with you well after the movie is over and the creepiness factor of this entry is worthy of any of Takashi’s other legendary flicks.
What makes this movie work so well is how different all three stories are in tone, style and story. Each flick can potentially be a movie on their own (with Dumplings getting the full feature treatment) but for me, short and sweet has always been a recipe for a fun horror movie night! Seeing that all three directors come from different Asian countries, this flick also plays as a nice sampler of fine Asian cinema and for those who are unfamiliar with the director’s movies, they can now see how these folks function with a full length movie! Whether it’s to be shocked, tense or creeped out, this flick is an amazing collective of entertaining horror!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.