Listmania: Top 10 Drug Scenes in Film

Drugs scenes can be very interesting in films. Sometimes they are moralizing and judgmental. Other times we laugh at the hilarious hijinks. Either way they are very often well made and contain moments which linger long in our memories. Here are my top 10 drug scenes in films, some obvious but perhaps there are a few ones you haven’t seen before:

10) Almost Famous – 2000 – Cameron Crowe

I am a golden god!

This scene triumphs in its random spontaneity as well as following with a group chorus of Tiny Dancers.

9) Big Lebowski – 1998 – Joel & Ethan Coen

After he is drugged on his search for Bunny, The Dude enters this dreamy bowling-themed fantasy world.

8) Requiem for a Dream – 2000 – Darren Aronofsky

This film shows the ups and mainly downs of a group of New-Yorkers. And while it’s an extremely depressing, and often disturbing film, it’s visually stunning.

7) Easy Rider -1969 – Denis Hopper

It would be hard to make a list about drug scenes without the king of drug scenes. A crazy hippy fulled acid trip through the heartland of America. Like On the Road… but with more drugs.

6) A Scanner Darkly – 2006 – Richard Linklater

Your sins will be read to you ceaselessly, in shifts, throughout eternity. The list will never end

My favorite scene in both the book and the film, an inter-dimensional alien comes to read Freck all his sins when he mistakenly takes psychedelics instead of sleeping pills when trying to commit suicide. The poor boy can’t even get suicide right.

5) Pulp Fiction – 1994 – Quinten Tarintino

I couldn’t choose between the two scenes because I love them both so much. Vincent makes heroin looks pretty damn tasty in the picture above, while Mia accidentally overdosing shows the rather shady side to it. And it’s a pretty epic moment, of course.

4) Trainspotting – 1996 – Danny Boyle

How to choose in this film. The drugs never really look good and yet they keep doing them, and often we keep laughing. There’s the overdosing, the dead baby crawling on the ceiling, but the crawling into the toilet of ultimate scum that is gag-worthy every time.

3) Enter the Void – 2009 – Gaspar Noe

While slow moving, and this film definitely did not need to be 3 hours long, the scene in the beginning where our main character smokes DMT is undoubtedly the closest anyone will ever come to showing the effects on screen visually. The rest of the film, in which the main character floats as a soul above Tokyo contains memories of the neon-lit city scape which are pretty psychedelic  in themselves.

2) Altered States – 1980 – Ken Russell

I literally cannot pick one scene from this movie. It is seriously tripped out. But what would you expect from a film that is about a scientist experimenting with hardcore ayahuasca and other psychedelics  while going into a sensory deprivation chamber?

1) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – 1998 – Terry Gilliam

Probably the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think of “drug-movie” and with good cause. The film is a hallucinatory adventure in which dinosaurs roam and your friend tries to kill you with a giant knife. And everything in between. But of course, it’s Hunter S. Thompson. No one can beat that. Set against the backdrop of Las Vegas, this film makes you feel as if you’ve taken a little bit from their drug suitcase yourself.

Bonus: Drugstore Cowboy, Knocked Up, Natural Born Killers, Black Swan

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31 Days of Horror, 31 Horror Movies.

In lieu of my favorite month, October, my top 31 horror movies. Some obvious, some classic, but I hope there’s something in here you haven’t seen before and love! To all my creepy, disturbing, funny, grotesque and spooky movies out there, I salute you! (I have a feeling I’ve left out a few things worth mentioning, but alas, another list for another day)

Top 31 Horror Movies:

31)      The Ring – 2002 – Gore Verbinski  – Okay so not the best movie, but when I was 12 and saw this in theatres in scared the hell out of me!

30)      Gothika – 2003 – Mathieu Kassovitz – Again, not the best, but I great mix of ghost, mystery and disturbing.

29)      Absentia – 2011 – Mike Flanagan – A very well done horror film, I wrote a review about it which you can check out, but it’s so far up on the list because it’s not very jump-out-of-your-seat “spooky”

28)      Carrie – 1976 – Brian De Palma – One of those essentials, I mean how many horror movies have been made about the revenge of the high school student who was bullied since?

27)      The Stepford Wives  – 1975 – Bryan Forbes – A feminist classic, although the pace may destroy our modern audiences with ADD, this movie was very disturbing to me as a child.

26)      Drag me to Hell – 2009 – Sam Raimi – Not the only movie by Raimi on this list, this film was panned by some critics who couldn’t see the humor behind it. A fun, disgusting, creepy film.

25)      The Fourth Kind – 2009 – Olatunde Osunsanmi – This movie was very creepy to me. I don’t so much care about the whole “based on true events” thing, besides the fact it is still really jumpy!

24)      In the Mouth of Madness – 1994 – John Carpenter – Certainly not the only film by the master Carpenter, this film has everything: psychological horror, blood, guts, twisted human creatures, and so on!

23)      Videodrome – 1983 – David Cronenberg – Never one to be afraid of being disturbing, Cronenberg weaves a terrible tale that will leave you feeling dirty yourself.

22)   Saw Franchise – 2004 to 2011 – Various directors – Of course the first is the best, but that can be said of almost every horror franchise. I know many will disagree, but I’ve always loved these movies, and making fun of the gaping plot holes is always entertaining.

21)   Cabin Fever – 2002 – Eli Roth – I also enjoyed the sequel, but Eli Roth deserves a shout out. This is one of those gag-inducing, bodily fluids filled gore fests that will make you squirm!

20)   Halloween – 1978 – John Carpenter – Carpenter is a master in his own right. This film is so creepy! Most of the remakes are just terrible, however.

19)   Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1974 – Tobe Hooper – A classic, leatherface has inspired many other people… to wear other people’s faces. I won’t lie, I also enjoyed the gory remakes.

18)   Friday the 13th – 1980 – Sean S. Cunningham – A wonderful film, and arguably one of the best introductions to the character of Jason, or any supernatural murderer ever. Also the 2009 remake is pure stoner genius as well.

17)   Nightmare on Elm Street – 1984 – Wes Craven – My favorite Craven film and the best in the franchise by a long shot. Johnny Depp smoothie anyone?

16)   I Saw the Devil – 2010 – Jee-woon Kim – A great horror movie, thriller combo, which blurs the lines of evil and makes you question your own morals.

15)   The Shining – 1980 – Stanley Kubrick – Such a classic, and of course extremely well made. What makes this movie so creepy is the fact that is seems so plausible. What if your Dad went crazy from isolation (and ghosts) and tried to murder you? *shudder*

14)   Rec and Rec 2 – 2007 and 2009 – Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza – these films are really some of the best that POV camera movies have to offer. Especially the second one which gets really creative about how they continue the genre (and kill people)

13)   The Mist – 2007 – Frank Darabont – the classic, community grouped together for survival story but with a great and tragic twist.

12)   Suspiria – 1977 – Dario Argento – It’s hard to narrow down at least one Dario film to use, but this one is a classic. Watch all of his works if you’re into classic horror though!

11)   Cube – 1997 – Vincenzo Natali – Woo Canadians! This is a creepy but smart horror film which follows the anguish of the prisoners. What is not explained remains the creepiest aspect of the film.

10)   The Thing – 1982 – John Carpenter – My favorite film by Carpenter. The isolation, what the alien does to your body, not knowing who the alien is? All come together for a terrifying and disgusting combination.

9)   Kill List – 2011 – Ben Wheatley – There is something about this film which really struck me – I wrote and entire review about it before – the gruesomeness, the disturbing-ness… none of these will disappoint you.

8)   Planet terror – 2007 – Robert Rodriguez – Just pure fun and madness. Typical gore and splatter-fest activities, I’ve always enjoyed a horror with a sense of humor.

7)   Sleepy Hollow – 1999 – Tim Burton – This is just head-chopping good fun. Creepy, twisted and a disturbing take on the light-hearted classic.

6)   Session 9 – 2001 – Brad Anderson – This is one of those serious horror films, with a great mystery and a great twist. Who doesn’t love abandoned mental hospitals?

5)   Tale of Two Sisters – 2003 – Jee-woon Kim – A beautiful,  disturbing, and tragic tale of a family gone wrong. The twists are wonderful and artfully revealed. A masterpiece!

4)   Return of the Living Dead – 1985 – Dan O’Bannon – Just far too much fun. Punks and zombies. A hilarious zombie film not a dull moment.

3)   28 Days Later – 2002 – Danny Boyle – A stunning work, the shots of an abandoned London are enough to place it here alone… That and the Zombies can run…fast!

2)   The Evil Dead – 1981 – Sam Raimi – My favorite cult horror movie, hands down, ever made. It’s just too much ridiculous fun. Is it serious? Is it a joke? Who knows, who cares!

1)   The Signal – 2007 – David Bruckner et al. – My personal favorite. This film blends humor and disturbing elements so well it leaves you laughing and gasping at the same time. In a way I didn’t even think possible! The best take on people-gone-crazy genre I’ve ever seen. A surprising little independent film.

5 Books That Should Never Be Made Into Films

Yesterday I was reading an interesting list on cinemablend about their five novels they thought should never be made into films. This was a very interesting concept to me, seeing as how one of my hobbies is comparing novels to their film interpretations. I ask, what do novels add to films? What subtleties do films miss from the novels? More often than not the novel is better than the film. But there are those rare circumstances when, in fact, the film is better than the novel.

So without further adieu, my 5 novels that should never be made into films:

1) Nightwood – Djuna Barnes

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Nightwood is a twisted and torrid account of a love affair, and one of the first novels to explicitly detail homosexuality. The novel, however, is at times incomprehensible. A beautiful novel which recounts the effect the character Robin has on the other players. Robin is in a perpetual motion moving away from that which makes her unhappy without any real notion of what actually makes her happy. To really outline how difficult this novel is to read at times, T.S. Eliot proclaimed that “only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.” The novel is essentially poetry written in novel form, any attempt to make this novel into a film would destroy the absolute poetry one encounters while reading it. In fact this is a novel more about the poetry than it is about the plot or narration.

2) Island – Aldous Huxley

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Aldous Huxley’s final work Island and the sister to his influential novel Brave New World. The Island for Huxley represents his ideal Utopia. It chronicles many of his ideals for society, culture and economy. In fact many of the favorable conditions he outlines in Island are in direct opposition to those in Brave New World (Wiki does an excellent job showing the opposition). The novel also uses magical mushrooms as a spiritual guide. All of these elements would come off as trivial, and I doubt the screenwriter would keep all the lengthy conversations that exist throughout the novel, nor would they be able to capture the spiritual nature of the psychedelic experience.

3) Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

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Salinger’s most famous novel, Catcher in the Rye follows teen antihero Holden Caulfield. The ultimate novel to deal with complex teenager issues of identity, sexuality, and belonging. If this novel was made into a film I highly doubt that one could capture the complexity of this character without Holden coming off as a, well, whiney teenager. The good news is that Salinger was absolutely against a filmic conversion of his novel and this  is being upheld posthumously.

4) Nadja – Andre Breton

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A non-linear tale of a 10 day torrid love affair with the inexplicable Nadja. A semi-autobiographical novel, like Nightwood, the novel is written in prose form and is at times incomprehensible. The beauty of the novel is in the language, and again any “action” in the novel seems secondary to the very words which make them up. The visual imagery is arguably more beautiful than any photographic imagery a person could conjure up.

5) Labyrinths – Jorge Luis Borges

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This collection of highly imaginative stories are entirely dependent on the reader’s imagination to come alive. I took a class once in which we attempted to draw what we thought the Library from the Library of Babel would look like and everyone had a different interpretation  Making any of these stories into a film would be excellent creative fuel but would destroy the individual experience which makes the stories so unique.

Works of kids imagination as escapism

Ah, children’s imaginations. Is there anything better? We try to recreate it in our movies and literature, and some succeed, some just seem to be trying too hard. Following is a list of successful books and movies which adequately re-imagine the childhood experience. My one qualification for this list is that the imagination must be used as a source of escapism from the real world. The escapism may be in response to times of strife, stress or merely to remove themselves from the mundanity of the everyday.

10) The Book Of Lost Things – John Connolly

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This novel follows David, who escapes into a fantasy world is response to grieving over his dead mother and the stress of his father’s remarriage. After being relocated to the countryside David begins to explore his surroundings, and after a WWII bomber crashes into his garden, David is moved to a fantasy realm in which he must find the King who has the power to send him home. Fantasy creatures include the woodsman, snow white and the seven dwarfs, and werewolves among others.

9) The Princess Bride – William Goldman 

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Remade into the ever popular 1987 (Rob Reiner) film of the same name, the story includes an evil prince, giants, and pirates. The book does not include the sub-context of having the grandfather read the novel to his grandson as the film version does. This is an important distinction and also the reason that this particular work is so far up on the list : the child doing the imagining is not really “escaping”, his grandfather is forcing him to listen to him read.

8) A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

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The classic story of a young rich girl turned to rags in her boarding school after her father is presumed dead while overseas. Sara keeps her sprits up and alive despite the odds and delves into imagination to keep her hopes alive. The book and several film remakes, end on a happy note where everyone receives their just deserves.

7) The NeverEnding Story – Wolfgang Petersen – 1984

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Based on the German novel of the same name, we probably all know the story well. A young boy is able to escape an unsatisfying home and social life thanks to the help of the mysterious book chronicling the events of the world Fantasia.

6) Mr. Nobody – Jaco Van Dormael – 2009

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An extremely convoluted film, spanning different timelines and time zones, the majority of the action in the film comes down to ***SPOILERS*** the stress of a young boy whose family is falling apart. When he’s making a desicion between which parent to live with, the various “timelines” throughout the film represent each possible life path, and his possible love.

This is nowhere near my favorite film and in fact, I don’t even like it very much. A lot of the cinematography was blatantly ripped off from Requiem for a Dream and I felt that the plot was trying to shove too much into it. Some editing could have benefited the film tremendously. I found the whole “Future” sequence to be basically useless, it didn’t add any depth or further meaning to the film.

5) Labyrinth – Jim Henson – 1986

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The classic cult movie featuring an evil David Bowie as Goblin King. Sarah must traverse the King’s labyrinth to retrieve her baby brother after banishing him to the realm. Completely ridiculous, especially the musical numbers. But Sarah delves into the imaginary world to deal with the stress of a shifting home life as well as to serve as a rite of passage – in that she comes out with a new appreciation and a new love for her sibling. At once hilarious and somewhat disturbing.

4) Pans Labyrinth – Guillerma del Toro – 2006

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The perfect example for this list. A girl reverts into a fantasy world in order to cope with her unstable surroundings. Her step-father is a sadistic army general, her mother due with child is too weak to protect her, and the threat of war looms all around. Equal parts creepy, equal parts captivating this is an excellent example of the power of childhood imagination which is at once inspiring and terrifying.

3) Coraline – Henry Selick – 2009

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The brainchild of Neil Gaiman, this film follows Coraline in her move to a new home. She is stressed out by her parents, and one day finds a passage in her home to a parallel and strangely idealistic alternate family. This world turns out, of course, to be too good to be true. The parallel world is an allusion created by a witch who wishes to trap Coraline in her world. Just like Pan’s Labyrinth this film is the perfect mixture of idealized childhood fantasy and creepy underbelly.

2) The Fall – Tarsem Singh – 2006

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If the sets aren’t enough to entice you, the enchanting and heart warming story will. Set in a hospital, a wounded stuntman spins a tale of epic proportions to a young girl with a broken arm. His stories are not merely to entertain the young girl, but have a sinister undertone to them. He uses his web of stories to have the little girl perform tasks such as stealing more drugs for him. This is one of those films where the little details come out as much as the large ones do, and like I said, the cinematography is stunning.

1) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carrol

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Did you expect anything different? An absolute classic. Made into several adaptations as well as a butchered one by Mr. Tim Burton. The story follows the adventures of Alice as she chases after a white rabbit while reading on a lazy afternoon. Alice escapes into her fantasy world as she is not ready to yet enter the mundane or the “real world”. This novel is the perfect example, as read to children by parents all over the world, there’s something in it for both age groups to take away and enjoy. A childhood story for children of all ages.

BONUS: Imaginationland Triology – South Park – Season 11 

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The ultimate tale of good versus evil in imaginationland. Includes all your favorite possible characters (see storm trooper in picture above) as well as a bet about ball-sucking, and of course, man-bear-pig.

Surprising Movies Directed by Women

I’m not saying this is the best women have to offer. I’m not saying this is all they have to offer, either. Those are other lists for other times. What this list offers is surprising films directed by women, you may not have realized that were made by women or they may just be surprising in some other way. In no particular order:

10) Lords of Dogtown (2005) – Catherine Hardwick 

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Yes, in the days before Twilight and Red Riding Hood Ms Hardwick actually used to make good movies. The movie follows the growing trend of skateboarding in the 1970’s and embodies the spirit of male youthful rowdiness well. This movie is also subtly surprisng based on the fact that her one proir film was chick-flick drama Thirteen. Quite a leap between female-based teenage angst and depression to spirited young males.

9) American Psycho (2000) – Mary Harron

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The seminal interpretation of Bret Easton Ellis’ eponymous novel, American Psycho was indeed directed by a woman and a Canadian one at that (Pride!). This biting commentary on social and economical issues in the 1980’s is tame in comparison to it’s gruesome book father but I would argue this is a good thing. Harron knew exactly where to tone down and amp up certain elements for a strong narrative. The book, in my opinion was simply too much. The movie, while also over the top is brilliant in it’s execution, and Christian Bale truly shined in this film. Harron was brave to take on this film, of which there were strong public protest against. However, she was able to read the book as the social commentary that it is, rather than the smut-novel some interpreted it as. 

8) Chocolat (1988) – Claire Denis

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While it may not be particularly surprising that this film was made by a woman, what makes it surprising is that this was Claire’s first feature film. What makes this film wonderful is the mix between childhood understanding of the situation (colonialism) and what is actually happening under the surface. Ms. Denis creates characters who are so complex we often have a hard time categorizing the bad guys from the good guys. No one is perfect. It is the maturity and complexity of this film which makes it so wonderful.

7) Billy Madison (1995) – Tamra Davis

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Love it or hate it, you know you didn’t think this film was made by a woman especially considering all the “rack” and “fine piece of ace” talk. Or maybe it’s just so moronic it didn’t strike you as the work of a woman. Regardless, this hilarious film was directed by the same woman who brought you both Half Baked (1998) and Crossroads (2002) – yeah that’s right. Ladies can have eclectic tastes. 

6) Strange Days (1995) – Kathryn Bigelow

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Of course there needs to be a Bigelow film on the list. Think what you may of her – fabulous, overrated – Bigelow is in a place where every female director would strive to be (first woman to win an oscar, no big deal). I chose Strange Days and not her most well known work The Hurt Locker (2008) because I love a woman doing a sci-fi. I also really enjoyed the creepy mystery quality of this film, and felt it was more fast paced than her oscar winning child. Based on her repitiore of work, Ms. Bigelow has never been one to shy away from a project. She is also responsible for such films as Near Dark (1987), Blue Steel (1989) and Point Break (1991).

5) Orlando (1992) – Sally Potter

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While, again, this film may not be surprising to learn it was directed by a female as it is based on Virgina Woolf’s novel of the same name – it is surprising in the absolute sheer quality. The film has a visual pleasure and narrative (Thanks Laura Mulvey) that is undeniable with cinematography that is picturesque. It also stars a young and relatively unknown Tilda Swinton as young Orlando, the nobleman who doesn’t age and suddenly becomes a woman. This was also one of the first feature films for Sally, and one of the first non- avant-garde films she made, the influence of which, however, still seeps through and cannot be ignored. 

4) Ravenous (1999) – Antonia Bird

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Yes, yes I know I’ve already talked about this film, but common! A western-horror about Cannibalism. That’s surprising! And the way this film is laid out is actually quite genius. The pacing is always one step ahead of you and you’ll never really be able to guess what happens next.

3) Fat Girl (2001) – Catherine Breillat

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Breillet, a director always surrounded in controversy, leaves no exceptions in the film Fat Girl. Following the exploits of two sisters, and the adventure into love and sexuality, it is the ending which is truly surprising. And I’ll leave it at that.

2) Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) – Amy Heckerling 

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The most stoned of all stoner comedies, this foul mouthed, crude and lewd film about high school kids concerned with sex, drugs and surfing was indeed directed by a female. And most surpringly, Hecerkling went on to make chick-flick comedy #1 Clueless (1995).

1) Wayne’s World (1992) – Penelope Spheeris

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This seminal 90’s stoner comedy was female made. I don’t know about anyone else but this movie was my childhood. Penelope is one to prove that not all women make just down trodden depressing dramas, but has a great sense of humor too. Ms. Spheeris is autuer to other films such as Black Sheep (1996) and The Beverly Hillbillies (1993).

10 Asian “Horrors” You Should Watch

10) Suicide Club – Shion Sono – 2001 (Japanese)

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Pure ridiculousness. Pure Stupid. Doesn’t even really make sense, but still a million times better than a “Western” horror movie that doesn’t really make sense. It has a pretty good message underneath that they’re trying to convey. And an Asian guy doing his best Tim Curry ala Rocky Horror Picture Show impersonation. Brilliant. And totally random. It’s exactly the random bits about the plot that really stick with you and that’s why I chose this to be #10 out of all other bad-ish Asian horrors. An independently made film, Suicide Club gained notoriety for it’s subject matter critiquing popular culture, and general bloody nature. Detectives attempt to uncover the mystery of seemingly interrelated yet unconnected suicides throughout town.

9) Memories of Murder – Joon-Ho Bong – 2003 (Korean) 

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Wonderful. Based on true events following the country’s first documented serial-murders. It’s the Korean version of Zodiac. And does a very good job when it comes to the small-town cops and their not-so by the book tactics. How far do you go to stop a murderer? So many red-herrings and so many possible suspects. Plus the cinematography at times really is very beautiful. You fall in love with the characters too, you can’t really help it. They do an excellent job at making (most) well rounded and un-static as if to say everyone is being affected by the murders plaguing the town.

8) Thirst – Chan Wook Park – 2009 (Korean)

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No Asian horror/thirller list would be complete without a film by Chan Wook Park on it. The director of Oldboy’s and the subsequent Vengeance trilogy’s take on the Vampire movie. A priest becomes a vampire through a failed medical experiment. Just the kind of sick twist you’d expect and of course all the levels of gore and depravity are there. Park excels in blurring the genre line in his films and Thirst is no exception: equal parts thriller, horror and love story, Thirst is definitely worth a look.

7) Oldboy –Chan Wook Park – 2003 (Korean)

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A staple of any Korean film fanatic. Arguably not a horror film but with enough blood, depravity, distributing-ness and twists and turns to fit nicely into the category anyways. A must see. If someone could figure out the end before actually seeing it I’d give them a prize. The break through film for actor Min-Sik Choi, who comes up in a film further down on the list. Based on a Japanese Manga series by the same name, I tired to read it but the film really does such an excellent job with pacing and story that the Manga seemed slow and a bit boring… The plot follows Oh Dae-Su who was imprisoned for 15 years in a nondescript room without any explanation, he is just as suddenly released and given 5 days to figure out the puzzle. The second installment of the “Vengeance” Trilogy.

6)The Good, The Bad and The Weird – Jee-Woon Kim – 2008 (Korean)

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If talking about Korean movies, this film would be closer to number 1, but since this convoluted list is about horror films, it doesn’t really fit. But it would be a bit of a crime not to mention this beauty. Also a good intro to Jee-Woon Kim. Like Chan Wook Park, Kim has made quite a name for himself in the film world. If anyone said they were doing a re-make/reinterpretation of Sergio’s  classic “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” I would scoff. However, this Korean interpretation is excellent and utterly fascinating to watch. Kim excels in blurring the lines between his characters… who is good, who is bad and who is weird? Includes the usual suspects: A Bandit, an outlaw and a bounty hunter all searching after some long lost treasure.

5)Uzumaki – Higuchinsky – 2000 (Japanese)

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Although the Manga is SUPERIOR, the film is also an interesting watch. I swear you will never find anything like this. The film follows a town spinning (sorry) out of control because of spirals.  That’s right, Spirals. Bizarre and wonderful. But the manga really is about 10X more disturbing (the film doesn’t include crazy-zombie-placenta-spiral babies for example). However, I feel that if you hadn’t read the manga first, like I had, this would still be quite a surprising film. I’ll bet you wont be able to look at a spiral the same way ever again.

4)Battle Royale – Kinji Fukasaku – 2000 (Japanese)

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Completely ridiculous. A class of school children are abducted overnight and forced to kill each other off until only one survives (there is an attempted explanation to this). Watch in joy as a class of school children are murdered one by one as “only one can survive”. This is not a movie with any empathy, and is really meant to be kind of hilarious (if you have that sick sense of humor).  I swear The Hunger Games is just a rip-off of this gem, but I mean… North America Steals everything from Japan so it’s not all that surprising. Battle Royale is based on a 1999 novel of the same name so now I know Stephanie Collins stole it since her novel wasn’t even published until 2008. That was a diatribe, but I just want everyone to know!

3) Survive Style 5+ – Gen Sekiguchi – 2004 (Japanese)

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While not technically a “horror” movie, again, it does have horror elements, and violence. This is like a Japanese random version of Guy Richie’s Snatch. With sets that would make Wes Anderson drool. 5 unrelated but interrelated stories. Plus it has Vinny Jones playing a British Hit-man. Wonderful. One of the strangest and best movies I think I’ve ever seen. I really can’t explain the film anymore than that as it would give away some of the brilliant twists and surprises.

2) Tale of Two Sisters – Jee-Woon Kim – 2003 (Korean)

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A true gem. This film was remade (filmed in my hometown, actually) but it was terrible. It lacked all the subtlety and finesse the original did. While Western Films revel in leaving the twist ‘til the end, this film isn’t about the “twist” and in fact several of the “twists” happen before the ending. Very well made, with a creepy Shinning-esque feel to it at times. This is the story of a family haunted by tragedy. This film is made in a Korean-Gothic style so it is very interesting to watch how the dichotomy of space affects the women in the house. If Edgar Allen Poe wrote a Korean Horror film, this would definitely be it.

1)I Saw the Devil – Jee-Woon Kim – 2010 (Korean)

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It was really between this film and Tale of two sisters for the place at the top. I choose this one, however, because of how it makes you feel as the audience. Your sympathies twist and turn and where you stand on what you think is “right” is thrown upside-down, and maybe even out the window. This is a talent Jee Woon Kim really excels at when it comes to filmmaking. This film is about a secret agent (working on a completely unrelated case) whose finance becomes the latest victim of a serial killer stalking the area. He vows to take revenge times a thousand. The serial killer is played by the fabulous Min-Sik Choi from Oldboy. This film is disturbing, disgusting, and just what you’d want from a horror-revenge film.