I didn’t know much about Korean horror until a chance viewing of 2006’s, The Host, on terrestrial TV. I didn’t quite know what to make of the movie from my first viewing. At times it seemed too serious to be a horror comedy and then too funny to be serious! But since then the film has grown on me. Twelve years since it was produced, the amphibious monster’s CGI stands up very well and is impressive and menacing it emerges from the water in broad daylight to terrorise its victims.
CHAW / CHAWZ
Similar in some ways to The Host is 2009’s CHAW. This is another movie which mixes humour with gruesome scenes. After a cop moves to a quiet village, gets surprised when a murder investigation opens when body parts get discovered in the mountain.
There is no masked killer on the loose, instead, this film pits man against nature as a gigantic snaggle-toothed boar terrorises the village.
TRAIN TO BUSAN
A divorced father, Seok-woo is taking his daughter Su-an on the train to Busan to see her mother. Also boarding the train at Seoul Station is a mix of passengers from all walks of life including a young high school baseball team conveniently armed with bats. Elderly sisters In-gil and Jon-gil, a dishevelled homeless man, a burly husband Sang-hwa and his pregnant wife, Seong-kyeong.
After a sick woman boards, the train and bites a conductor the zombie virus quickly spreads throughout the carriage. Surviving the first outbreak the horrified passengers get off the train only to find they have jumped out of the frying pan and into the flames as they discover the living dead have overtaken the city. After a mad rush to reboard the train, they head to Busan, where the army has established a quarantine zone.
With a great story, and both exciting and believable characters ‘Train to Busan’ is a modern zombie film done right!
The zombie effects for the best part are impressive, each of the ghouls not only has white eyes and veiny skin but charge with constant speed.
and I do like the danger presented by running zombies seen in this movie and World War Z and the Dawn / Day of the Dead remakes. However, I am not a fan of when they swarm over each other at high speed, which they do once or twice in this movie.
What is remarkable about the movie is the set pieces, speeding vehicles, and train wrecks along with well-filmed action sequences in claustrophobic train carriages were all filmed against a tiny (by Hollywood standards) budget of $8.5 million.
If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it because you will not be disappointed.
MORE TO COME SOON
A genuinely original Netflix horror series
Debuting January the 25th on Netflix, Kingdom is a South Korean period drama based in the Joseon dynasty of the 15th Century. If you enjoy Japanese Samurai / Chambara films like ‘Zatoichi’, ‘The Mute Samurai’, ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ many of those styles are in this series with regards to the backgrounds and very elaborate historical costumes. An interesting aspect of this series is the period weaponry of swords, spears impale the ghouls and swords behead them. There is even the use of early flintlock rifles and zombies getting flattened and trampled by horses.
There is also a power-play at work similar to ‘Game of Thrones’, running through the story. The elites will do anything to remain in power and expand their territories. Ju Ji-hoon plays, the main character, a crown prince who is accused of trying to have his sick father killed by his powerful step-mother who is pregnant with the King’s child. Luckily, the crown prince is a very noble noble-man and less concerned with the would-be challenger to his throne in her belly as he sets out to investigate the disease wiping out the lower classes and spreading throughout the kingdom. Available in Korean and subtitled in English or dubbed it starts slower than say the walking dead but it is nonetheless quite engaging.