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The 12 Most Overlooked Asian Horror Films

Not a ‘best ever’ list – Ant and Alexis pick their 2nd tier pick n’ mix of over-looked, bottom shelf Asian Horrors…

So, rather than produce a ‘best ever’ list we’ve (Alexis and myself) gone for a 2nd tier pick n’ mix of over-looked, bottom shelf films. That’s really selling it, no?

Cash-ins, straight to DVD or overshadowed by their more famous brethren, released around a similar time, these might not be the most well known or highly regarded, but we love them anyway.

In no coherent order whatsoever….


ノロイ. aka: The Curse. Japan 2005. Directed by Kôji Shiraishi. Starring Jin Muraki, Rio Kanno, Tomono Kuga. 115 mins. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Ant: I’ve reviewed this before and made clear how much I love this already. Yes, I have a weakness for fake / found footage films, I’m not ashamed and Noroi is up there with the best and scariest of them all; Blair Witch Project eat your damn heart out.

Alexis: Blair Witch Project? Fucking trees.

Ant: scary trees….

Bio zombie

生化寿尸. Hong Kong 1998. Directed by Wilson Yip. Starring Jordan Chan, Sam Lee, Angela Tong, Lai Yiu-Cheung, Emotion Chung. 94 mins. In Cantonese with English subtitles.

Alexis: This harks back to the kind of tonal-splicing Hong Kong films of the late eighties, where the flips between horror, comedy and drama are so fast that they create an interesting dissonance between what you think the film will be when you first start watching and what it actually ends up being. Not to say that the overall result isn’t trashy fun, especially when the plot is essentially: spiked beverages cause zombie-outbreak in a mall. It’s up to two low-life slackers to band the survivors together and save the day. Favourite zombie movie ever! Dumb fun.

Ant: Sam Lee! Sam Lee!


うずまき. aka: Spiral. Japan 2000. Directed by Higuchinsky. Starring Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan, Hinako Saeki, Ren Osugi, Keiko Takahashi. 90 mins. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Ant: A small town is plagued by spirals. Kids turn into snails, a potter winds himself into his own potter’s wheel, a girl removes any spirals she can find from her body….

Ant & Alexis: One of the first films we enjoyed together. Arh, nostalgia. Puke.

It’s still creepy and captures the ickiness of, if not the entirety of the winding narrative of, Ito’s manga rather well. What ever to Higuchinsky?

Guts of a beauty

美女のはらわた. aka: Entrails of a Beautiful Woman, Guts of Virgin 2. Japan 1986. Directed by Gaira (Kazuo Komizu). Starring Megumi Ozawa, Ken Yoshizawa, Kazuhiro Sano, Seira Kitagawa, Junko Ishii. 68 mins. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Alexis: Hermaphrodite penis monster. That’s all you really need to know about this sleazy, low rent exploitation classic.

Ant: Something about a medical experiment gone wrong. Bound to be, right?

Angel Dust & Hypnosis

AD: エンジェルダス. Japan 1994. Directed by Sogo Ishii. Starring Kaho Minami, Takeshi Wakamatsu, Etshushi Toyokawa, Ryoko Takizawa, Masayuki Shionoya, Toshinori Kondo. 116 mins. In Japanese with English subtitles.

H: 上传于 . Saimin, Hypnosis. Japan 1999. Directed by Masayuki Ochiai. Starring Goro Inagaki, Miho Kanno, Ken Utsui, Takeshi Masu, Yuki Watanabe, Shigemitsu Ogi, Ren Osugi. 110 mins. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Ant: If you’re only going to watch one evil hypnotist movie this halloween, watch Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure. If you’ve space for say, two or three try these. One from the cult director of Burst City, Sogo Ishii (Angel Dust), the other from, well, a guy who made some Ju-on sequels (Hypnosis). Don’t hold those against him.

Alexis: Angel Dust is a noir tinged psychological-thriller following an investigation into the serial-murders of several young women at various stops on a Tokyo commuter line. It’s got that kind of Kubrick coldness where everything looks terrifying even as it looks beautiful. Hypnosis is a lurid and entertaining film ostensibly about the police investigating a series of inexplicable suicides; really it’s about gory, Technicolor deaths.

We’re Going to Eat You

地狱无门. Hong Kong 1980. Directed by Tsui Hark. Starring Norman Chu, Kwok-choi Han, Eddy Ko, Melvin Wong, David Wu. 87 mins. In Cantonese with English subtitles.

Ant: I can never remember the plot line for this. What I do remember is that it’s rather good. Tsui Hark’s shot at a cannibal movie. With comedy. And gore.

Alexis: Hands down this wins the best title award.

Ebola Syndrome

伊波拉病. Hong Kong 1996. Directed by Herman Yau. Starring Anthony Wong, Lo Meng, Shing Fui-on, Cheung Lau. 98 mins. In Cantonese with English subtitles.

Anthony Wong visits Africa, rapes a local, returns home with the Ebola virus and generously spreads it about.

Ant & Alexis: Racist. Misogynistic. Offensive in every way possible. But once you cross the threshold of being offended, which happens almost as soon as the titles roll, there’s nothing left to feel, except amused. No Anthony, mate, don’t do that in those noodles…

Magic Cop

驅魔警察. aka: Mr Vampire 5. Hong Kong 1990. Directed by Tung Wai. Starring Lam Ching-ying, Nishiwaki Michiko, Michael Miu Kiu-wa, Michael Miu Kiu-wa, Frankie Chan, Wu Ma. 87 mins. In Cantonese with English subtitles.

Ant: Lam Ching-ying fights crime with magic! Following the phenomenon that was Mr Vampire the world’s greatest Taoist sifu joins forces with a ‘by the book cop’ to defeat an evil sorcerer in modern day Hong Kong. This one’s family friendly!

Alexis: Japanese Taoist priestess vs Lam’s iconic moustache! Expect a powerful 80’s rock opera ensemble aesthetic.


へん. Metamorphosis. Japan 2012. Directed by Hajime Ohata. Starring Kazunari Aizawa, Aki Morita, Teruhiko Nobukuni. 54 mins. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Ant: Kafka’s metamorphosis meets Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo in this short feature where a man becomes an insect. Both weird and strangely moving. Why are you not on DVD, like, everywhere in the world?

Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend

超神伝説うろつき童. Japan 1987. Directed by Hideki Takayama. 250mins. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Ant: Do not watch the dub. The original tentacle horror. Sexually and viscerally graphic. Exploitative, yes – probably a bit dated too. But a werewolf-esque subtext, touching on religion and growing pains, raises it far above most subsequent ‘tits and tentacles’ features. Again; do not watch the badly dubbed, botched together (US) feature length release, watch the original 5 part mini series.

Eternal Evil Of Asia

南洋十大邪術. Hong Kong 1995. Directed by Chan Mei-Kei. Starring Chan Kwok-Bong, Ellen Chan, Ben Ng, Elvis Tsui, Bobby Au, Lily Chung, Chin Gwan. 89 mins. In Cantonese with English subtitles.

Ant & Alexis: A group of friends go to Thailand looking for a ‘good time’ and piss of a local wizard. Elvis Tsui becomes a dickhead, literally.

The Queen of Black Magic

Indonesia 1979. Directed by Liliek Sudjio. Starring J.P. Suzzanna, W.D. Muchtar, Alan Nuary, Teddy Purba . 90 mins. English Language (dubbed)
Ant: I’d drop this into the same genre as the (Filipino) Mad doctor Of Blood Island series. Cheap gory horror and black magic. It’s most memorable scene? A guy pulls his own head off!


Happy Halloween, y’all! 🙂 Stick with for more Asian Horror this week!

Noroi, Bio Zombie, Uzumaki, Hypnosis and We’re going to eat you can all be found on Yes Asia. The others all pop up on Amazon.

About the author

Anthony GatesAnthony Gates Anthony Gates
Currently teaches film and dabbles a little with film making. He grew up on horror movies but soon fell in love with Asian cinema as well. Likes anything loud, trashy or just plain daft. Favourite genres remain horror and science fiction but loves a good comedy or though-provoking drama too... More »
Read all posts by Anthony Gates

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