Asian horror films find an international market

Asian horror films find an international market
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First Published: Wed, May 02 2007. 12 27 PM IST
Updated: Wed, May 02 2007. 12 27 PM IST
Udine: Over the past decade, the Asian film industry has set standards for the horror genre and now more Asian inspired hits are on the way to cinemas around the world.
With Hollywood remakes of “The Ring” and “The Grudge” both clocking more than $100 mn (Rs420 crore) in ticket sales, studios have their sights firmly on the region as they search for the next box-office winner.
The next 12 months will see the Hollywood version of the Oxide and Danny Pang-directed Hong Kong shocker “The Eye”, among others, as remake rights are being snapped up almost as soon as the originals hit the screen.
“We make these films for our people. But it is also why they seem more original to people from overseas,” says Thailand’s Genwaii Thongdenok, who produced the local hit “13-Beloved”.
“In Thailand, and in Asia, horror films are about more than just ghosts. They are often about things we think are real,” says Genwaii, who has seen the remake rights to his hit bought up by the powerful Weinstein Company.
The future of the horror genre was one of the topics under heavy discussion at last week’s ninth edition of the Far East Film Festival in the Italian city of Udine.
Asian horror films have long been a staple of the 10-day festival, and the event’s “Horror Day” again proved to be an enormous success, with hardly a seat to spare.
This year featured films from Japan (“The Slit-Mouthed Woman”), Thailand (“13-Beloved”, “The Unseeable”, “Dorm”), South Korea (“Roommates”), the Philippines (“Sukob”) and Malaysia (“Chermin”).
“For filmmakers, we get a big buzz over watching our films play outside the market they were made for,” says actress Siraphan Wattanajinda, who stars in “The Unseeable”.
“These films are not made for an international audience but it is great for us to come here and see that an international audience can appreciate them.”
The breadth of ideas in the Asian horror tradition is certainly one reason why the genre, more than any other, has been able to cross the cultural divide. The nature of the horror genre enables filmmakers them to test themselves with a wide range of techniques.
“There is a new horror film coming out every two weeks in Malaysia. So young filmmakers can find backing for their projects, plus you are able to try different things, explore new ideas rather than just doing drama or a love story.”
Some filmmakers are even using the shock genre to focus on wider social issues -- as as South Korea’s Kim Eun-kyung does in “Roommates”, which looks at the effect severe discipline has on young students.
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First Published: Wed, May 02 2007. 12 27 PM IST