Halloween is but a few days away, and many a movie fan has yet to find a suitably spooky fix.
There’s no shortage of English language creepfests to choose from, but as highlighted by this bundle of bewilderment, Asia is the undisputed epicenter of harrowing horror….
Disclaimer: Everything on this list is sensationally NSFW. Proceed at your peril, delicate readers!
Dumplings (Hong Kong, 2004)
To craft a horror movie centered around tasty takeout treats is an achievement in itself, yet the depths of depravity excavated here will startle the bejesus out of even the most rabid fans of skewed cinema.
Exploring the theme of beauty and the absurd lengths people will go to maintain it, the film introduces a woman selling home-made dumplings made from "secret" ingredients imported from mainland China.
To say any more would spoil the family-size serving of twisted terror, but I’ll warn you: The film relinquishes dumplings of any and all innocence. Your bathtub will become the victim of many a suspicious/scathing side-eye, too.
Tokyo Gore Police (Japan, 2008)
Futuristic Japan: Not for pansies. Villainous mutants known as “engineers” spout outlandish weaponry from bodily injuries, including heat-seeking missiles, crocodile jaws, and a (ahem) shotgun dong.
But the samurai-sword-wielding cop Ruka isn’t one to stand for such nonsense—she’s got a slaughtered father to avenge!
Bondage-draped quadriplegics walking on swords? I’d wait for grandma to leave the room before you (attempt to) endure this bout of movie-based masochism.
Macabre (Indonesia, 2009)
Put simply, this is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Walter White-manufactured meth. More blood-drenched than any slasher fan could possibly hope for, this notorious gorefest caused all manner of ruckus upon its release. Heck, several countries (the first being Malaysia) went so far as to actually ban it.
The classic tale of a group of friends targeted by cannibals yearning immortality (!), the movie unveils new and alarming ways to utilize spiked weaponry and flaming objects.
Audition (Japan, 1999)
Japanese director Takashi Miike is a prominent figure in the Batshit Bonkers cinema community. Responsible for some of the most bizarre, deranged and disturbing films of all time, Audition stands in strong contention for his most unsettling. It’s without question his best.
A chilling rendition of Ryu Murakami’s novel of the same name, we meet a recent widower who’s been convinced by his son to find a new wife. Problem being, the heartbroken businessman isn’t interested in further romantic engagement. Or so he thinks! The first hour of the film plays out like a dark comedy of sorts, highlighting contemporary expectations and pressures in Japanese society. But that all changes once the soon-to-be-smitten bachelor meets a spellbinding young woman with a dark, sinister secret....
Audition's final 60 minutes are the cinematic equivalent of being strapped to a demonically-possessed mechanical bull. The startling violence and nerve-shredding atmosphere create an unparalleled horror movie experience.
Side note: I first saw Audition during an "Asian Horror" event at a local movie theater. Barely half of the audience made it through to the film's end.... Several fleeing viewers (literally) bawled their eyes out, while others looked set to throw up.
Such pandemonium plundering its way through a British cinema would no doubt leave director Takashi Miike cackling with fiendish delight….