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I am Horrified — and Happy About It

1 Feb, 2005 By: Stephanie Prange

Aristotle called it catharsis. I think of it as exploring the worst thing that could happen and coming out of the theater recharged and feeling lucky. Whatever the reason, in these scary times, horror is hot.

Asian cinema has been a big driver of this recent phenomenon. U.S. horror hits The Grudge and The Ring were based on Asian films Ju-on and Ringu, respectively. Most recently, I watched Phone, from Tartan Video's “Asia Extreme” collection. The film was the No. 1 grossing horror film in Korea in 2002 and is being remade by Maverick Films. These films are finding a voracious audience in America — and for good reason, because the originals are spine-tingling.

Without video, most American audiences would never see the original Asian works. While the American versions no doubt add some polish and make the subjects more palatable for the U.S. audience, the originals are not to be missed. I find them a wonderfully horrifying complement to the American films. After I saw The Ring, I clamored to see the original Ringu. Before The Grudge came out, I looked for Ju-on, knowing I loved the genre.

Thank goodness for video. Without it, these gems would only be seen by a few arthouse patrons.

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