11 March 2011

Horror films

Dear Chinese guy

Why are there no good horror films from China or Hong Kong? I can only find zombie films or comedy horror films which aren't scary at all. How come Koreans can make scary films but Chinese people can't?

George K

Dear George.

A bit of background.... a big reason as to why China doesn't make horror as we see it is simply because the censors don't like it. You know the kind of thing. We don't want people to see things which may upset social harmony. Stabby stabby psycho films such as erm..... American Psycho (a master piece the book anyway).

Scream 1 and 2 (less so 3) Saw I,II,III etc or I know what you did last summer, hell even The Fog (the 1980s version not the crappy 2005 remake). People can be very impressionable for example A better tomorrow. When A better tomorrow came out (not a horror film) loads of people copied Chow Yun Fat's character dress minus the guns of course.

China being China didn't give much credit to the people. You know the kind whereby newspapers and headless Chicken types blame movies for making people violent. Thus China's censors tended to not allow such things and or films of the super natural. It was something like 1979 when Deng Xiao Ping talked about removing the shackles from writers and artists. It was just talk though for many years. With the law about if we make a film to be shown in China then you really shouldn't make a different version sort of rule, unless we want to censor it get around double standard.

Thus when the government in China tells you NO, you simply don't do it. Unless we say so..... such is the will of a one party state....

Today writers skirt the issue by going all Dallas.

Oh it was just the imagination or it was just a dream or he took drugs (remember Winners don't take drugs!)

Which again promotes the ideology of drugs are bad m'kay....

..... while a western film would have the psycho lunge from a hidden corner when waking from such a dream just to scare people a bit more, they go all Dallas.

19 Levels of Hell for instance did a Dallas, it was all just a dream. Those that died didn't really die. Thus you get comical films about Zombies, Like Mr Vampire and Spooky encounters. Or modern day ones like erm The Phantom Lover which is sort of tense sometimes Romeo and Juliette remake. But not in your face lunging killer arrrgh make you jump kind of fear. Anecdotal I remember some might have been hell raiser or something. Which wasn't scary at all the scariest bit was when something fell out of a cupboard. Or Painted Skin, which is a knock off of Silence of the lambs. Where the protagonist goes around wearing other peoples skin.

Secondly the horror that is out there IS scary to older Chinese people. Like the dead coming back to life. While western influenced people like me see Zombies as a great opportunity to grab thy shotgun pump it like this.

One Handed Shotgun Pump

Shawn | Myspace Video

And go a Zombie huntin' ker chak! (Shotguns of the pump type are legal in the UK 3 shots maximum though)

Chinese have a general dislike of death and the undead, you know no number 4. Which goes far beyond the western fear of death maybe its the way three or four generations living under one roof is still common and Chinese people get to see their elders deteriorate. Maybe its the way many Chinese still venerate their ancestors or the way the recent dead tended (in the near past) to be buried nearby. (My grandad is in my uncles house in a jar). Such stuff about walking dead and or corpses being reanimated or ghosts is scary to many older Chinese people I know. A ridiculous movie I almost demanded my money back and the seconds of life I wasted watching had three seconds of CGI where his wife who turned out to be a ghost morphed a CGI monster mouth.... now if it were a morphed CGI dentata that would scare the hell out of me.

While I'll scoff at such films because I am a jaded city slicker. Who has met far too many weirdos to be phased much by anything.

It's like this back in 1984 audiences were awed at what was going on. While people born today see a big latex looking head.


But with the censorship and skirting around like Dallas the true horror genre probably won't take off in China for a while. Now Koreans and Japanese people on the other hand. They make pretty decent horror movies.

Long lists of Korean films and Japanese films

Decent enough for Hollywood to copy remake such films and quietly pretend they thought of the idea themselves. Ok so they aren't as gory as western horror films but pretty decent regardless.

Except this one

Where they appeared to steal the plot from the Simpsons

One of my faves happens to be Candyman 1 probably because I really like the score to the film


  1. Good horror doesn't necessarily need to be gory. "The Eye" ("Gin Gwai") is still my favourite horror film. I've seen the Hindi remake ("Naina") and the Hollywood remake ("The Eye"), but the original Pang brothers version from HK was the creepiest.

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