Horror is one genre where the absence of clichés would totally ruin the experience. There are many reasons that viewers keep coming back for the thrill and scare. Just ask anyone and they would probably have their own ghost story to tell, especially with our Asian cultural belief systems.
That’s why many would agree that Asian ghosts are scarier than mat salleh
ghosts (no offence to our Western friends)! We are proud to say that our Asian horror films are in a league of their own.
Even the Hollywood remakes of Asian horror films are often not as scary as the original version to us Asians. Don't you agree?
Horror classics from Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and Korea have continued to make the rounds across the world. Some of these terrifying, creepy and downright gruesome scenes would leave all of us sleeping with the lights on for days, weeks, months, or maybe even forever.
Thanks to these unforgettable scenes, we found some common elements you see in most, if not all Asian horror movies.
#1 Vengeful ghosts
Image: Horror Freak Movies
An Asian horror movie wouldn’t be an Asian horror movie without ghosts with unfinished business, returning from the dead to avenge themselves by putting a curse on a place or plainly just to kill, like the Japanese horror franchise, Ju-On
Sometimes, the purpose for their return could be related to something more romantic. One of Thailand’s most popular horror films that has travelled the globe, Nang Nak,
is a romantic tragedy about a devoted ghost wife who came back to her unsuspecting husband because she couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him.
And you know what’s creepier? Apparently it’s based on a true story! There’s even a shrine dedicated to the ‘ghost wife’ in Bangkok.
#2 Long-haired ghosts
Does the name Sadako ring any bell? Thanks to the 1998 Japanese horror film, Ring
, a female ghost wouldn’t be scary if she didn’t have long hair covering her face, all dressed in white. It wouldn’t be the same if this element doesn’t make an appearance in a horror movie.
South Korea’s Bunshinsaba
followed this trend by including not one, not two, but at least three creepy ghost girls who look just like that! But you probably never heard of them because they weren’t as famous as the all-time ghost girl superstar, Sadako.
#3 Pretty female protagonist
Image: Astro Boo
There’s nothing more terrifying and nerve-wrecking than watching a pretty, vulnerable girl fall victim to evil spirits and curses. Practically everyone who is close to her would end up dying a horrible death, which would then lead her to try and solve the mysterious deaths. Out of desperation, she would walk into creepy houses alone just to seek answers and leave viewers like us sitting at the edge of our seats, screaming at the screen, “Don’t go in there!”
Then, ghosts would start chasing her and there will be lots of screaming, tears, bloodshed… you get the drill. If you want a clearer picture, the character, Rose from Thailand’s Ghost Sense
totally fits this bill.
#4 Kids with THE eye
Image: Asian Movie
If the kids are not evil, like the infamous pale boy from Ju-On
, they are probably troubled little beings playing alone in the corner, talking to invisible people, or even creepily humming innocent nursery rhymes in the background.
Due to some Asian cultures that believe children have the ability to see ghosts, we also get to see these spine-chilling moments in a lot of Asian horror films.
#5 Ghost in mirror, ghost in cupboard, ghost in car, etc.
Ever had the fear of looking at yourself in the mirror after watching an Asian horror movie? Even simply just to brush your teeth in the bathroom at night. Typical horror movies almost always have a scene where a woman is washing her face in the sink and when she looks up, something unimaginable is staring directly back at her, and that image just lingers in your mind for the longest time.
A lot of times, you can also find ghosts making strange loud noises coming from inside cupboards, leaving you with an irrational fear of your own wardrobe as you lay in bed at night. The 2003 South Korean horror, A Tale of Two Sisters,
gives you just that! As for horror films from Malaysia, we tend to see ghosts inside or on top of cars. Watch the Malay horror, Jangan Pandang Belakang,
and you’ll get what we mean.
Good luck driving home alone tonight. Don't look behind.