Soul Guardians (Korea) 1998


AKA: Toemarok
Year: 1998
Runtime: 97 mins.
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
Director: Park Kwang-Chun
Cast: Ahn Sung-Kee, Shin Hyeon-Jun, Chu Sang-Mi, Oh Hyun-Chul, Kim Roe-Ha, Lee Beom-Su
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Synopsis:
“They have conducted the rite of blood and sold their souls to resurrect evil, but that was only the beginning. The time has come for them to finish the rite. When the curse of blood begins, it’s the end of everything.”

Police are left baffled after uncovering a ritualistic mass suicide. Each body is left stretched out in front of a heavily pregnant woman atop an altar. Barely alive the woman is rushed to hospital but dies shortly after arriving, but the child is saved and delivered seemingly healthy.

Twenty years later and the survivors are being discovered brutality murdered and all are missing their ring finger, coincidentally the child saved on that fateful day twenty years ago is having visions of the murders. Seung Hee knows nothing of her past or her mother or how she has become embroiled in these murders but now everyone wants to know her, including Satan himself.

Scary True Stories 1-3 (Japanese) 1991

AKA : Honto ni atta kowai hanashi (1991)
Year: 1991
Genre: Horror | Mystery | Suspense
Runtime : 2 hours and 18 minutes
Subtitles : English
Country : Japan
Language : Japanese
Director : Norio Tsuruta
Cast : Yumi Goto, Rie Kondoh
Links:

Plot/Synopsis:

Part 1

The Lonely Girl
When everyone else has left for the evening, a poor girl learns the reality behind her high school’s locker room secret.

Spiritual Flight
After the death of her spiritualist grandmother, a young girl is propelled into a dream-like flight across the landscape toward a haunting graveyard. After waking, she cannot but help investigate whether her dream was real.

Mystery of the Red Earring
After finding a mesmerizingly beautiful earring next to a high-rise apartment, a young girl discovers it holds a strange and frightful power. When she invites her friend to witness the phenomena, the gruesome source of the haunting is revealed.

Part 2

The Gymnasium In Summer
Three junior high girls decide to investigate the reality of their school’s ghost tale once and for all.

House of the Restless Spirits
Due to the father’s sudden job change, a family is forced to move from their home in the country to a rather dilapitated house in Tokyo. What the homebound wife and daughter soon realize, however, is that the house is hardly their own.

The Hospital at Midnight
A newbie nurse is quickly acquainted with the PLETHORA of departed ghoulies apparently lurking around every Japanese hospital.

Part 3

Be Gone Crone!
A young girl quickly learns whether an urban legend incantation works or not.

My Friend at the Stairwell
The new girl at school finds that she can see and hear the subject of the school’s urban legend and decides to try to help the mournful ghost.

Paralysis

A young female professional experiences a truly bizarre and frightful night after a seemingly innocent evening.

The Black Hair at the Abandoned Building
Three adventure-seeking young people lurk through a supposedly haunted building only to find to their great demise that yes… it is MAJORLY HAUNTED!

Kaidan Restaurant (Japanese) 2010

AKA: Thriller Restaurant
Broadcasted: 2009-10-13 to 2010-06-08
Genre: Anime, Comedy, Horror, Mystery, Supernatural
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English
Episode Runtime: 24 mins.
Total Episodes: 23
Status: Completed [23/23]
Links: Anime News Network, aniDB

Voice Cast
Hiro Yuuki as Sho Komoto
Masumi Asano as Reiko Sakuma
Ryoko Shiraishi as Ako Ozora
Hisayoshi Suganuma as Takuma
Machiko Toyoshima as Machiko Sensei
Yoshihisa Kawahara as Yuma
Yuko Yajima as Mari (TV Asahi)
Ai Maeda as Ako’s Mother
Fuyuka Oura as Bunta Ozora
Hiroaki Hirata as Obake Galson
Kentarou Itou as Ako’s Father

Plot
Shou transfers from London into Ako’s class at Yamazakura Elementary School. Because strange things are always happening in Yamazakura, people call it a cursed town. It’s a good thing Shou is interested in paranormal phenomena, because in each episode he, Ako (whom everyone calls Anko), and their friend Reiko are in three short horror stories introduced by the ghostly garcon of the restaurant. But don’t worry. The restaurant adjusts the spices so those who don’t like scary stories can still enjoy the meal.

MPD Psycho Project (Japanese) 2000

AKA: Tajuu Jinkaku Tantei Saiko: Amamiya Kazuhiko no Kikan, Multiple Personality Detective Psycho: Kazuhiko Amamiya Returns
Broadcasted: May 2 – May 7, 2000
Genre: Detective, Horror, Mystery, Supernatural, TV Drama
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English
Episode Runtime: 60 mins.
Total Episodes: 6
Status: Completed [6/6]
Director: Miike Takashi
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Cast
Hosaka Naoki as Amamiya Kazuhiko / Kobayashi Yosuke / Nishizono Shinji
Nakajima Tomoko as Isono Machi
Osugi Ren as Sasayama Tooru
Shiota Sadaharu as Manabe Masaki
Anan Yoshinari as Toguchi Kikuo
Miura Rieko as Honda Chizuko / Kobayashi Chizuko
Lily as Yamamoto Yoko
Nae as Tanabe Tomoyo
Matsuda Satoshi as Ueno Tatsuya

Plot
“Do you know the real you?”

A detective with multiple personalities and a dark past struggles to find out who he is while solving cases and unravelling threads of his past.

Episode 1: Memories of Sin ~ Drifting Petals
A sadistic criminal is turning his victims into human flower pots. Detective Amamiya Kazuhiko is called out of early retirement to work on the case, which is tied to horrific events in his past. His new wife goes missing and a mysterious cult with barcodes tattooed on their eyeballs surfaces to wreak havoc on the city.

Episode 2: How to Create a World
A brutal serial murderer cuts babies from their mothers’ womb in what appears to be a copycat crime from five years earlier. All of the women have barcodes tattooed on their eyeballs. The victims, under some sort of hypnosis, purchase the surgical quality knives used to kill them the day before their murders! As Detective Amamiya’s wife wanders the city in a trance, he discovers someone from his past is involved in the crime wave…

Episode 3: Life is a Constant Double Helix
Chiaki Kuriyama (KILL BILL) guest stars in this episode, which finds Detective Amamiya and the police team investigating the mass suicide of the forty girls from a posh high school. Amamiya goes undercover as a high school teacher to find out why and learn more about a new generation of barcoders, many of whom are students at this militaristic school.

Episode 4: The Crushed Ant
Perfectly severed body parts with numbers cut into them are discovered in a field. In a nearby arcade, two rival youth gangs battle each other and Amamiya’s wife is taken prisoner by a gang leader. The police Chief tries to put together more of Amamiya’s hidden past with the assistance of a one-eyed snuff filmmaker.

Episode 5: Coronation of the Cursed King
Cult members spontaneously combust when the barcoder network is infected. The burn victims are taken to the local hospital where a lonely employee’s cyber girlfriend tells him to kill people. Detective Amamiya and his team lock down the hospital, while strange things happen on the secret 13th floor.

Episode 6: Soaring Souls and Human Bondage
The Police Department denies that the barcode case ever existed in a massive cover-up attempt. Three remaining members of the investigation team decide to continue working on the case on their own. The Police Chief’s entire family dies under mysterious circumstances. Amamiya tracks the baby stealer to a remote cabin in a snowstorm for a final showdown to recover his own missing child.

Prayer Beads (Japanese) 2004

AKA : Omoinotama Nenju
Year: 2004
Genre: Horror | Thriller | Suspense | Sci-Fi
Runtime : 9 half-hour episodes
Subtitles : English
Country : Japan
Language : Japanese
Director : Masahiro Okano, Shigehito Kawata, Naoki Kusumoto, Toshikatsu Kubo
Cast : Various
Links: SaruDama

Plot/Synopsis:
This is a 9 episode collection of Japanese horror vignettes, all either directed or supervised by CG/FX guru Masahiro Okano. With stories ranging from psychedelic sci-fi to traditional folk horror, from the sentimental to the macabre, this collections presents a number of entertaining tales with impressive cinematography. In relation to the other Japanese horror anthologies released in the West, this collection stands near the top in terms of cinematic quality and visual polish.

1st Bead: Prayer Beads
This is a moody and creepy tale involving a woman on the edge of her sanity, her suddenly missing husband, and a concerned neighbor. Their seemingly disparate lives come to a devastating convergence when an unexpected connection amongst them is uncovered. This is a ghost story taking place within a very urban setting and contemporary circumstance, and is thus aimed at driving home this entire collection’s motto: “The world we daily live in is brimming with horror.”

On several levels this is a tale about spiritual fallout and retribution caused by transgressions against others… and goopy zombies.

2nd Bead: Vending Machine Woman
A young (and horny) couple set out for a remote weekend getaway in a mountain cabin. But when they arrive and need assistance, they learn the landlord won’t leave his house after dark due to a local superstition. Needing some food and refreshment (to quiet his increasingly annoying girlfriend), they head out into the pitch black night in search of a convenience mart. By night’s end, all they are able to locate is an old and seemingly abandoned vending machine with a few remaining cans of beverage. Little does our couple realize that the energy drink this machine offers is akin to a triple dose of viagra, and then some.

This tale falls squarely into the genre of “arrogant tourists who fail to take local superstition seriously.”

3rd Bead: It’s Me
Yuki and his more volatile yakuza-wannabe friend are enjoying the quick rewards of a phone fraud scheme targeting the elderly. By simply calling and saying “It’s me”, the victim eventually suggests a name (Oh, is that you Fred?). Once they have a name, they describe some emergency requiring the victim’s immediate monetary help; saying a friend will be over shortly to collect the cash. Things run smoothly until local yakuza catch wind of the scheme and Yuki goes to collect cash from a particularly senile old woman who continuously mistakes him for her own grandson.

To me, this seemed the strongest and most impressive story of the entire collection. The sub-themes of yakuza violence and family sentimentality come through fully, and there is a really good twist involving a rather unique depiction of Shinto/Buddhist belief. Interestingly, director Naoki Kusumoto’s other story in this collection, which in my estimate is equally creative, though not nearly as impressive, also deals with the societal and spiritual role played by grandparents.

This is a ghost tale built upon Shinto/Buddhist notions of afterlife and the central importance of the “O-bon” or death anniversary rituals.

4th Bead: Real
After the bizarre, self-destructive behavior of a co-worker and increasing migraines, an otherwise aspiring surgeon finds his career on the brink of complete breakdown. Following the only path which opens to him, he subjects himself to back-alley psychedelics whose horrific visions he all-too-late understands.

This tale falls within the “sci-fi horror” genre with Matrix-like overtones.

5th Bead: Mushroom Hunting
Friends from an internet chatroom decide to meet for the first time and go on a weekend trip into the mountains to pick mushrooms. After a day’s drive to their destination they hike several hours up into the mountains in pursuit of the region’s renowned shrooms. But as night falls, they fail to heed an ominous messenger’s warning about a certain shack which should be avoided at all costs.

Of course, they stumble upon the shack and ask to spend the night, thereby discovering for themselves the severity of the mysterious warning.

This also falls into the genre of “arrogant tourists who fail to take local superstition seriously”, but with a couple of wicked twists (which I won’t divulge). Unlike the “Vending Machine Woman”, this one relies on the very well established, classic Japanese folk lore of “Yamamba.”

6th Bead: Eddie
Local gossip says young Ikou is bound to bring you bad luck. His kindergarten burned down, his parents died in a fiery crash, and a condescending neighbor just got run over by a bus. Now that he has come to live with his grumpy grandfather, everyone seems to be unhappy. But the attention is suddenly diverted from him when an overly cute seal suddenly appears in the nearby Edo(gawa) River. The residents and local media dub the creature “Eddie” (actually, “Edo-chan”, after the River, get it?). Little Ikuo seems to be the only one less than enthralled by the cute visitor. When more people who have had run-ins with Ikuo turn up with their heads missing, it looks like he is destined to be a social outcast forever.

This tale is basically a warning against a knee-jerk disgust and persecution toward someone with creepy supernatural gifts. The public’s eager adoration of the cute yet mysterious “Eddie” is juxtaposed to their similarly eager repulsion of Ikuo’s mysterious scowl. But as we all know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

7th Bead: Echoes

When beautiful Yumika is violently murdered at the hands of a hooligan, her grandparents set out to track him down. It would seem a rather daunting task, but these grand folks are armed with some uncanny and formidable skills. Its not long until they are on the killer’s trail with an explosive conclusion in mind for him (Get it? Ha!)

This is director Kusumoto’s second “grandparent” tale in this collection. Here he explores the possibility and outcome of an entire family possessing psychic abilities.

8th Bead: Cat’s Paw

Young Shota’s life is dismal indeed. His father is abusive, his parents fight endlessly, he’s bullied at school, and now he is in very deep water with a couple of ruffian classmates for ratting them out to the principal. He’d simply like to curl up and hide from life, until he stumbles upon a children’s cartoon promising prophetic results. The cartoon’s main character is a humorous, samurai cat named “Nyan-chan” (In Japanese, nyan = meow) who promises a cartoon character boy, also named Shota, three wishes. Its not long thereafter that the real-life Shota discovers the cartoon overlaps with reality and that having one’s wishes granted can have grisly outcomes.

This is an interesting child-centric tale along the lines of Gakkou no Kaidan.

9th Bead: Apartment

An abusive father and husband brings his family and the entire storyline to an irrecoverable breaking point. This last tale attempts to tie together all the prior tales into a rather inexplicable and confusing whole. There didn’t seem to be much point or message to this tale other than attempting a wrap-up of the series with an emphasis on the collection’s motto: “The world we daily live in is brimming with horror.” Thus it shows the survivors of the previous episodes mingled in with the crowd gathered around an apartment as the SWAT teams descend in search of a serial bomber (???). Don’t ask me. I haven’t got a clue.

The House (Thai) 2007

AKA : Baan phi sing
Year: 2007
Genre: Horror | Thriller | Mystery
Runtime : 1 hour 40 minutes
Subtitles : English
Country : Thailand
Language : Thai
Director : Monthon Arayangkoon
Cast : Intira Jaroenpure, Chutcha, Rujinanon, Chamanun Wanwinwatsara, Khomsan Nanthajit, Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, Nuttawat Plengsiriwat, Natthakan Thayutajaruwit, Worapong Nimwijitr, Wiboonsiri Khongpool

Plot/Synopsis:
This is inspired by a true story of three horrible murders that happened to three women in years past. Chalinee, a young reporter, is curious as to the truth behind the three mysterious cases, so she starts searching for more information. Finally, she discovers the house where three women were killed by their lovers. But when she takes her final steps into the cursed house, she finds something more frightening than she ever imagined waiting for her.