Horror Boom’s Ten Scariest Asian Horror Movies Ever Made: #9: “Three Extremes” (2004)

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Straight up: do not watch the first segment of this movie, Fruit Chan’s “Dumplings”  if you’re pregnant (this may even be a bad movie for men whose wives/girlfriends are pregnant—though there is beautiful Bai Ling to look at). In fact, if a list existed of terrible movie choices to watch when ‘expecting’, I’m pretty sure it’d be in the top 10, along with Inside. Don’t eat while you’re watching it unless you have a very strong stomach. Though if you DO decide to eat, just make sure you are not eating …dumplings.*

Here’s the trailer for Three… Extremes:

Here’s a scene from “Dumplings”, though it could be spoiler-ish and isn’t exactly crystal-clear quality…

There’s a clip of the disturbing final scene on You Tube, but not only will it spoil the movie, it’s not as disturbing out of context. Just watch the entire film, it’ll earn the pay off.

Don’t expect much from the Park Chan-Wook segment, which is the only piece of cinema he wrote and directed that wasn’t spellbindingly above-par. I guess even the most talented, skillful, and hard-working among us drop the ball once or twice in their careers. Most reviews—by fans and critics alike—point to “Cut” as the weakest of the three films.  The fake-out opening was great, there was a twist or two, but it became a little too torture porny-y for my tastes. I’ll have to check and see if his longtime DP collaborated with him on this one, as it didn’t have the usual beauty and composition nearly every shot of a Chan-Wook Park film has.

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The Miike segment (“Box”) managed to scare me the most -and there was barely any blood. Replacing gore (though there is some disturbing imagery, it’s nothing compared to Miike’s usual bloodbaths), is a creeping dread that builds and builds until you get to a scary mental place where, if you’re not covering your eyes, you’ll want to. I’ve had to cover my eyes in two other features directed by Miike, but for different reasons. During the intense torture scenes in Imprint (the “censored segment” from Showtime’s Masters of Horror series) and Audition,**  I was covering my eyes out of squeamishness. In “Box,” I was covering my eyes because I was actively frightened of what I *might* see. Just the goddamned screen cap below from the trailer makes me feel uneasy.

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*Especially ones that crunch delicately when you bite into them.

**it is worth noting that Imprint‘s torture scene is definitely harder to watch than the notorious torture scene in Audition, though the latter’s sequence did make me briefly wince and cover my eyes protectively. If there’s anyone out there that can watch Imprint and remain perfectly calm and composed inside and out through the entire running time… then I don’t think I want to meet that person at all, let alone in a dark alley.

 

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Film Review: ‘Rigor Mortis’ (2013) – Justin Chang Wasn’t Impressed, But Other Critics Were

Exactly what happened to drive Yeung Fang mad is revealed, sort of, in one of many violent flashbacks — several of which also bedevil Chin, whose suicidal impulses likely stem from his separation from his wife and son. But Mak, who seems to have interpreted the concept of “hopping vampires” as an excuse to jump between subplots as haphazardly as possible, doesn’t seem especially interested in investigating his protagonist’s psychological wounds. The director appears far more taken with the two demonic twin sisters haunting Chin’s apartment, their long, face-masking hair and bloody tendrils showing the clear influence of one of Mak’s fellow producers, J-horror maven Takashi Shimizu (“The Grudge”).

-From Justin Chang’s review in Variety.com of “Rigor Mortis”.

Have you ever read a pretty unenthusiastic review for a movie you were really looking forward to seeing, and find your desire to see it has only lessened by about 5%? Well, that happened for us in the case of this pretty tepid review for Juno Mak’s Rigor Mortis, which boasts an amazing trailer, clips, credentials, and set-up. We’re still going to see it (though hearing a scary movie described as ‘tedious’ usually is a buzz-kill). We maybe won’t go way out of our way to see it, just wait for the rental fee to go down (of course, we managed to miss it at SIFF, unintentionally).

You might want to check out this review at Beyond-Hollywood.com, which basically said it had the same problems but that the good outweighed the bad. So there.

Berlin Film Review: ‘The Midnight After’

“As the characters disperse and regroup, Chan exploits the mass-panic scenario for farce as well as terror, with an original mash-up of epidemic/zombie/sci-fi horror elements that makes “Contagion” and the “REC” franchise look square by comparison. Dream sequences and spooky visions further add to the surreal atmosphere, and the revelation of each character’s dark side culminates in a highly political message about the loss of morality and compassion following a critical transition, as symbolized by their passing through the tunnel. Chan leavens the heavier dialogue scenes with a few punchy action sequences en route to a big-bang finish at once funny, sad, allegorical and provocatively open-ended.”  -From the Variety review by Maggie Lee.

 

Well, I’m not sure if it’s practical to see anything that makes [REC] look “tame”. If you’ve seen [REC] (and [REC 2] isn’t especially soothing to your nerves either) I’m sure you’ll understand; the former consistently makes our Top Ten Scariest Movies Ever Made list (and I’d have to be in a brave mood to see something that’d knock it off the list). Director Fruit Chan’s Dumplings (2004) would probably make it to another Top Scariest list, just a longer, more-inclusive one. Despite that, we cannot WAIT to see The Midnight After.  Let’s all cross our fingers that all the positive buzz that this Berlin film festival showing is getting means that The Midnight After gets snapped right up for US distribution rights FAST! Read on.

Red Band Trailer For Spike Lee’s Oldboy Remake Is Here – How Original.

(I got so worked up in my first edit that I realized I forgot to include the actual trailer; so here it is, wheeeeee):

Call this a red band trailer? We’re not that impressed. It looks as though (other than the actors)  Spike Lee‘s only change was having it be 20 years, not fifteen. We’re supposed to buy he’s, what, 25 years old in that first clip? Also, that no blood would come out when… OK, deep breath… see how many shots in this gallery from the remake trailer look a little familiar (and still watered-down).

 

 

Surprised the honeycomb-style wallpaper didn’t get ripped off, too. Oh wait, that’s right– it’s not a rip-off if they call it an homage, I forgot. Hey, you know what? Let’s see Josh Brolin look at cool as Choi Min-sik did while wearing those goofy sunglasses he finds. Chan-Wook Park said on the commentary for the REAL, SOUTH KOREAN Oldboy  (I was lucky enough to get the Vengeance Trilogy Boxed Set as a gift from my thoughtful husband) that they tried to find the most girly, stupid-looking sunglasses for him to wear, but that the actor still looked bad-ass no matter what. Plus, good luck looking that cool holding a hammer.  Hey Brolin, let’s see you lose 20 lbs. training over six weeks and do almost all your own stunt work. Let’s see you do your first fight scene where you beat the shit out of several thugs without the cigarette coming out of your mouth once. Let’s see if you have the dedication as an actor to eat four entire live baby octopi for a movie and your director while keeping your game face on and not gagging or throwing up. OK, WAIT! HOLD UP! Please in fact don’t try it, no-one should ever do that and the one (big) problem I have with the original is that they couldn’t find away to do that ‘bit’ without actually eating the poor things. Even if they were already on the chopping block for dinner, that was unnecessary and I still have to avert my eyes every time I watch that scene.

 

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Anyone here with an AB blood type, raise your hand.

 

OK,  I’m not even sure who I was yelling at there;  probably Lee, or the whole goddamned Hollywood system for cashing in to make a shitty American remake of an amazing foreign movie instead of just re-releasing it.  Not really mad at Brolin, he’s just doing his job… it’s just that Min-sik is an impossible act to follow. And so is Chan-Wook Park.

OK, here’s the corridor fight scene for Oldboy (2003) to cheer you up. Yup, it really was only one take – it took seventeen takes over three days to get the right one.

*Trivia fact: Min-sik is a Shinto Buddhist and said a prayer for each and every one of the octopi.  He didn’t refuse to do the scene, but he felt really sorry for the creatures.

Note: I was going to look up what actor Spike Lee cast as the Woo-jin Lee character, but then I just suddenly got really depressed and tired just thinking about going to the IMDB page for the remake. Even the fact than Samuel L. Jackson is in the movie doesn’t perk me up any (no matter how many times he says “motherfucker”), and I love Jackson in almost everything he does.

Kristin Wiig Hosts SNL – Don’t Miss This Awesome Grudge Parody, “Aw, Nuts! Mom’s A Ghost!” – Wiig Does Kayako

Speaking of Mother’s Day, here’s one last themed treat. Someone on staff in the SNL writer’s room is a Grudge/Ju-On fan like we are! Yeah, we know Kayako isn’t a Korean water ghost*, doesn’t vomit up black goo and that it’s Sadako in The Ring that crawls out of the TV. We’d be pretty shitty J-Horror/K-Horror geeks if we didn’t get that right.

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MOM! we were trying to watch that!

So what happens when the Disney Channel does a new show about two kids whose mom gets drowned by a jealous man when she’s visiting Korea? Hilarity ensues. Plus Kristen Wiig nails it!

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Hey, watch it, mister.

Click the big red link below to watch the whole sketch (and see some very familiar moments). I couldn’t embed anything because, well, it’s Saturday Night Live which airs on NBC, and this isn’t going to pop up on You Tube any time soon.

Click here to watch “Aw Nuts, Mom’s a Ghost!” the J-Horror parody sketch on the Kristin Wiig – hosted May 11th episode of Saturday Night Live!

I don’t know about you, but if it existed, we’d watch the hell out of that show!

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Mooo-oom!

*Kayako Saeki is an Onryõ, the cultural Japanese term for a female ghost returning for vengeance! We know our stuff.

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Park Chan-Wook’s “Stoker” Opens Friday March 1st – Ten MORE Review Snippets That Make Us Wish It Opened Tonight!

When South Korean genre iconoclast Park Chan-wook decided to bring his peculiar gifts to a Stateside production, anything could have happened – and anything pretty much does in “Stoker,” a splendidly demented gumbo of Hitchcock thriller, American Gothic fairy tale and a contemporary kink all Park’s own… (Variety)

SOLD! Where’s the ticket buyer’s line?

Several weeks ago, we published a piece that laid out ten juicy snippets from advance reviews for Stoker that made us want to see it RIGHT THAT MINUTE!  Well, we were holding back ten more. Already all hopped up to see Park Chan-Wook’s English-language début? When you read these, you’ll be looking for midnight showings so you can see it VERY early Friday AM!

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  • Even at this first glance, it’s a film that’s virtually impossible to get out of your head after watching it. It’s pure-undiluted Park Chan-wook, and one of the most unconventional Hollywood films you’re likely to see anytime soon. (JoBlo.com-  Movie News, reviewed here by Chris Bumbray)
  • All the visual flair and giddy, saturated colors inherent in Park’s films are on display here, from the warm greens and browns of the Stoker family grounds, lovingly massaged by the camera, to the privileged and manicured cleanliness of the immaculate Stoker home, in which we the viewer always remain somehow “outside.” A beautiful structure, as cold and heartless as the people within, is a physical reflection of the disenfranchised and cloistered, desperately grasping at the illusion of healthy normalcy, while the impossible-to-contain terrors of their dark family history threaten to erupt in an explosion of bloody truth and violence; a tragic inevitability. (From Sean Smithson for Twitchfilm.com; click here to read entire review)
  • [Park and Chung-hoon] modulate  the volatile family tensions which risk exploding in the house where Therese Deprez’s neatly handsome production design reflects the semblance of propriety — all the colors are right and each decorative object is in place.  (Click to read review by David D’Arcy for Screen Daily)
  • By the time behavior turns deadly and sexual, a pencil sharpener becomes one of the film’s most striking images. Style informs the behavior too; Park cuts to the next scene before India is finished talking, quickening the pace of exposition to a brisk clip. He photographs dinner conversation elegantly, and brushing hair becomes a field of grass in a seamless transition. It’s beautiful, and awesome that he even thought of that…an example of strong storytelling to which any mainstream film should aspire.   (Fred Topel from Crave Online – click here to read entire review)
  • When South Korean genre iconoclast Park Chan-wook decided to bring his peculiar gifts to a Stateside production, anything could have happened – and anything pretty much does in “Stoker,” a splendidly demented gumbo of Hitchcock thriller, American Gothic fairy tale and a contemporary kink all Park’s own.  (Variety.com review, written by Guy Lodge)
  • …the cast is entirely game to bring this bloody, very nearly silly soap opera to life. Wasikowska’s gothic demeanor should replace Winona Ryder’s Lydia from “Beetlejuice” as the new ideal for brooding teens everywhere, and as her character is defined by retaliations and revelations, the complexity of her hunter/hunted relationship with the pretty, predatory Goode is fascinating to behold.  (reviewed by William Goss for Film.com)
  • the Oldboy auteur’s cool, cruel family mystery never falls into faceless homage: its queasy eroticism, black wit, arch nastiness and intensely loaded images couldn’t be anyone else’s doing… [Park]  Chan-wook diverts into coming-of-age turf, seen through the black gaze of 18-year-old  India (Mia Wasikowska), a Wednesday Addams-alike who wields a mean pencil.    (Fred Topel from Crave Online)
  • As Charlie becomes a weapon for her to hurt her mother, India’s resolute composure rises  …shrouding her real intentions. All the better for the vengeful girl when family history is exhumed to explain why Charlie was sent away from the Stokers’ home for years. (Review By David D’Arcy for Screen Daily )
  • As the story slowly unravels and Park begins to reveal just one piece of the puzzle at a time, [Park] keeps audiences completely engaged throughout Stoker, almost acknowledging that he’s screwing with your own perceptions of good and evil through his wonderful visual style and challenging characters that will undoubtedly leave you fascinated, frustrated, intrigued and completely mesmerized by from beginning to end…  longtime Park fans will undoubtedly delight in Stoker’s striking visuals and Park’s haunting exploration of how human monsters are made, making an unforgettable (albeit uneven) thriller by one of the finest modern filmmakers out there working today.— (Reviewed by The Horror Chick, Dreadcentral.com: click here to read the review in its entirety, which we highly recommend!)
  •  [There’s] plenty of mileage in Miller’s warped family melodrama, as the respective and inevitably linked uncertainties about Richard’s death and Charlie’s long absence are kept aloft, while Charlie’s gradual playing of India and Evelyn against each other adds queasy sexual tension to an already chilly mother-daughter relationship. Auds will either go with this festering hotbed of secrets, lies and severed heads… and debate whether Park, who otherwise oversees proceedings with amused precision, overplays his hand in the bizarre, bloody finale. (From Variety.com, written by Guy Lodge)

That last line sounds like a perfect topic of debate to us!  So, who wants to start? HOLD UP! What do you mean, it doesn’t open till Friday?  NOOOOOOO!

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Ten Juicy Snippets From Advance Reviews of Park Chan-Wook’s “Stoker” That Make Us Wish It Opened Tonight!

ARRRGH! Everything we read about Park’s English-language début, Stoker,  drives us crazier and crazier to see it!  If you’re as hopped-up to see it as much as we have been (check out our Top Ten Most Anticipated of 2013 list here – so far, three of the ten that we got to see were worth the wait), just check out these ten “blurbs” taken from reviews for press/reviewers that got to see advance screenings.

Copyright Celebquote.com

What a warm, nurturing mother “Evie” (Nicole Kidman) seems to be to her daughter India. (Copyright Celebquote.com)

As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 100% Fresh Rating, though obviously this could change. I doubt it’s going to stay that high, but you don’t start out with 100% Fresh (especially from advanced screenings) then suddenly plummet down to 41% the week right before the movie opens, so things are looking up.
This writer has read exactly one mixed review so far*, but no bad ones (and we read a LOT). Check out what these (trusted) critics have to say– I credited them and linked when I could so you could read the entire review if you’d like to. I had to quit collecting snippets after ten, due to almost getting ready to drool on my MacBook in anticipation. Wish it was in theaters now BUT IT DOESN’T OPEN TILL MARCH FIRST! GRRARRRG–OK, deep breaths, calm down here, if we waited over six months for The ABCs of Death  and at least four months for Mama ,  we can do it for this movie (not that we have a choice). Speaking of which, hey, if you get a chance to see an advance screening or premiere, it sounds like Stoker  is worth the wait in line or other pains in the ass you would have to endure to catch the movie early. Plus, we’re super-envious of you!  Do you have an extra pass? Can we be your best-est friend 4-Ever?

Meanwhile, check these ten yummy appetizers out!

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  • Working from a script by former Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, STOKER  feels like the work of someone intimately familiar with [that of]  Hitchcock’s  …although I wouldn’t go so far as to call this an all-out homage. The primary similarity is the young leading lady on the cusp of adulthood, mesmerized by her handsome, sophisticated, and murderous uncle….Mia Wasikowka’s India is far less a shrinking violet. Sometimes, the thing that’s most taboo and dangerous is the most attractive, and that’s an idea very much at the heart of STOKER.  (JoBlo.com, Movie News review by Chris Bumbray)
  • Park Chan-wook leaves the expected streaks of blood across American screens in Stoker,  his English-language début about a young woman whose coming of age takes place among the corpses of family members and neighbors. Fans who have followed the Korean auteur since 2003’s Oldboy  will not be disappointed, but a high creep-out factor and top-drawer cast also should attract genre fans who’ve never heard of him. (Hollywood Reporter, by John DeFore)
  • Tensions continue to rise, a disturbing love triangle begins to emerge, secrets are revealed to all and that’s when Stoker really goes into some wickedly weird and wonderfully twisted territory (and to say anything more would be giving away all the wonderful surprises director Park and screenwriter Miller have woven into this haunting coming of age tale) that should undoubtedly satisfy Park’s longtime fans out there who have been waiting patiently.   (‘TheHorrorChick’ for  Dread Central)
  •  In the many years that I have been coming to this Festival, not once have I ever seen a film that floored me enough to make me want to attend subsequent viewings.  I can say with certainty that Stoker  is to be the first to do this.  (www.heyuguys.co.uk/  Review by Ty Cooper )
  • Between the florid dialogue, gallows humor, all manner of sexual suggestion, Clint Mansell’s suitably peculiar score and another eye-catching collaboration with cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon, the world of “Stoker” is one of thoroughly, giddily heightened expression and tension… the result is a nervy, pervy Hitchcock riff in its own right.  (by William Goss  for Film.com)
  • I heard some people describe Stoker as a slow burn, but if you think this is a slow burn, then you must not understand much about behavior. So much happens in each scene, and by the time it explodes it’s glorious. Director Park Chan-wook, and it probably started with Wentworth Miller’s screenplay, crafts a fascinating study of how people behave. Mia cracks eggs to drown out funeral gossip, she draws a pattern in art class unphased by a harasser, rainwater drips on India’s shoes and forms a puddle, and did you notice how that naughty drawing paid off in the shower scene? (Reviewed by Fred Topel for CraveOnline)
  • [Devotees] will see something to relish in its mix of OTT violence and gallows humour: proof that Chan-wook’s appetite for disruption hasn’t been lost in translation. …Park Chan-wook brings operatic finesse to generic material in his tight-wound, wickedly weird US début. And Mia Wasikowska nails it. (Ken Harley, TotalFilm.com)
  • Start getting excited for an incredibly fun, yet perverse and, more importantly, powerful piece of work that awaits you come March 1, when this artful slice of insanity is unleashed upon screens worldwide. (Twitchfilm.com, reviewed by Sean Smithson)
  • …just because the film finds weight within its dramatic elements doesn’t mean horror fans will feel neglected. STOKER  has several disturbing scenes, one in particular for  featuring explicit violence that leads to one of the film’s most jaw-dropping revelations. (Fangoria.com – Ken Hanley)
  • Director Park also once again delivers a wonderfully mesmerizing visual masterpiece with cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon …[the reason] Stoker succeeds can be contributed to Park’s absolutely pristine attention to detail; from the stunning uses of lighting and costumes to the vivid and lush production design, every detail in the film felt purposeful and packed with emotion, demonstrating that Park’s impeccable attention to detail certainly hasn’t waned… Chung somehow manages to take even the simplest of shots – whether it be of a very awkward family dinner or blades of tall grass glistening in the glow of a setting sun, or even a small child making sand angels with an unusually devilish smile upon his face – and make them all feel like a works of art brought to life on the big screen. (The Horror Chick, Dreadcentral.com)

 

At least one clip from Stoker has been officially released, look for it to be posted here soon. And yup, it’s the monologue leading up to the currently notorious  “I can’t wait to see life tear you apart.” line from Kidman’s frost-bitten cu awful bitch of a mother to her daughter (Mia Wasikowska)**. That font color is supposed to represent icy-blue cold, by the way.

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*We won’t name the reviewer, but we’re pretty sure he was expecting another Old Boy, and didn’t seem to care much for the “overly styled” cinematography. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Didn’t really dampen Mrs. Horror Boom’s enthusiasm too much.

**That font color is supposed to represent an icy-blue cold, by the way.

Contrary to this still from the movie, it’s not what it looks like; there are no ghostly vengeful female spirits – just human monsters.

New “Stoker” Featurette/Music Video Is Beautiful Showcase For Director Park Chan-Wook and DP Chung Chung-hoon’s Work – Watch It Here!

The description on You Tube for this was “Stoker  Featurette,” but it has no dialogue or behind-the-scenes footage. We’re not complaining, though, since we’re devoted fans of both Park Chan-Wook and especially his collaboration with his longtime cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon.

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The featurette (I’d call it closer to a music video or even a really creative trailer) is breath-taking; one review I read referenced the shot of “India” brushing her mother’s read hair, and a close-up shows it slowly transforming into a thick field of waving, tall grass. You’ll know it when you see it. Check out the stylish piece below in HD (I recommend going full-screen if you can.

I actually think that between the two of them, Park and Chung are incapable of creating a boring-looking scene or even a shot. Here’s the synopsis again for Stoker  –

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After India’s father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

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More on Stoker  coming soon! Until then, you can also check out the official site, http://www.donotdisturbthefamily.com .

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