The following is a visual summarization I have made with clips from many of the films I have talked about:
The class I wrote this blog for, GRSJ230: is described as a course that “explores the complex relationships between gender, race, sexuality, and representations of ‘Asianness’ through an interdisciplinary lens.” Horror films have been in my life since I was little. However with passing time, increased knowledge and attachment to my culture have allowed me to view these films as something more than just a source of entertainment. Instead, it has become a modern tool that exposes a country or region’s culture and “Asianness.”
Thanks to all who tuned into Asian Scare, I hope most if not all, have a newfound appreciation for the horror genre.
While I have focused primarily on Japanese films and its culture, it is still vital to take a look at other regions in Asia. Below is several other Asian countries, their horror film(s), and how they tie into the nation’s cultures and traditions.
British rule from 1841-1997
Brief Japanese occupation lasting from 1941-1945
Handover to China in 1997 and established as a Special Administrative Region (SAR).
Handover ceremony of HK, July 1st, 1997.
The Untold Story (1993) and Dr Lamb (1992), which both depict true gruesome crimes that took place in Hong Kong and Macau
Was commercial cinema until the 1990s
Category III films (equivalent to America’sNC-17, except 18+) introduced in 1988
Violent Category III films was a response to the handover and the identity crisis of the city state; an allegory of politics in Hong Kong, keyed to the socio-political context prior and after the return to China.
“Given the impact of the Tiananmen massacre on the citizens of Hong Kong, we could construe The Untold Story as a sort of political or psycho-social allegory. This is an approach that makes a good deal of sense when talking about another film from roughly the same period that also indulges in extreme displays of violence, both sadistic and masochistic.” – LaiKwan Pang & Day Wong in Masculinities and Hong Kong Cinema
Brief History & the South Korean film industry:
President Kim Young-Sam’s cultural infrastructure initiatives (1994) included the creation of multiplexes with theatres (often had midnight screenings), which encouraged the industrial boom of K-horror
At the time, the Korean film market was not fully open to Japanese imports; movie directors had little to no competition.
Bedevilled (2010) – Bok-nam, a young women who has been mentally, physically, and sexually abused on a remote island seeks vengeance.
“Desire for revenge…indicates the deep structural conditions of violent sociality in South Korea”, “Rape-revenge genre signals a blunt feminist stance against sexual violence” – Michelle Cho in Beyond Vengeance: Landscapes of Violence in Jang Chul-Soo’s Bedevilled
*Edit 11/09/2015: spelling error, Hong Hong–>Hong Kong
*Edit 11/15/2015:Revision of all categories and post titles for better organization.
https://www.coursehero.com/file/10887963/BEYONDVENGEANCE-LANDSCAPESOFVIOLENCEINJANGCHUL-SOOS/ (I am unable to find an online copy of the article, so this will be the only reference to it).
Written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the film Kairo (2001) follows several different Japanese university students investigating a website linked to a series of suicides. Through its bitter depiction of desolation in its characters, Kairo introduces a saddening issue prominent in today’s society. In Japan particularity, a phenomenon called hikikomori, is defined by an acute social withdrawal from society by adolescents and young adults. As portrayed in Kairo, the victims are shown exhibiting bizarre behaviour, which display the devastating effects of the sociological alienation.
Hikikomori, a Japanese social and health issue.
Hikikomori is often characterized by victims resorting to extreme measures in order to isolate themselves from real-life social interaction. The first example can be spotted near the beginning of the film, after Ryosuke signs up for internet service and accesses a ghost site. In this site we arepresented disturbing images/cams of various strangers confining themselves to dark rooms, displaying depressive manners which include walking aimlessly around their rooms, or glaring back at us (or Ryosuke) through the screen. These odd behaviours are also exhibited by multiple characters throughout the film as they become more obsessed with the idea of loneliness and death. Another example is Toshio Yabe after encountering a ghost. He sits alone in dark and often ignores his co-worker’s presence and concerns.
Scene from Kairo.
These weird behaviours convey a sense of helplessness as they feel their obsession with loneliness have placed them far away from any chance of being saved. This can also be illustrated through the video of the man sitting with a bag over his head in front of a wall with “help me” written all over it. As these emotions spiral downwards, the victims eventually resort to suicide (as seen by the deaths of Taguchi and Harue). As put by a plant nursery member after his co-worker’s suicide, “Maybe…he [Taguchi] suddenly just wanted to die. I get that way sometimes. It’s so easy to hang yourself.” This paints the pessimistic mindset of the victims, who reveal having weak ties to their own personal lives.