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Book Review: Asia Shock

asia shockFor the last five years or so, I have read every single movie review that Roger Ebert has written, even of movies I know I will never watch. Sometimes, those are the reviews I look forward to the most. Why? Because he’s a good writer and just about every review he writes makes me laugh. I also love to read books about movies. Even movies I will never watch. With Asia Shock: Horror and Dark Cinema From Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand, I read a lot of reviews of movies that I know I never want to see. Ever.

Still, I enjoyed reading about them. I’m a fan of horror novels–movies, not so much. I think that what passes for scary is often just gory and many horror movies are simply a reason to scantily clad women to run around screaming, and that can be gotten from plenty of other movies. And the horror movies that truly disturb me are not enjoyable, so I’m trying to have it both ways. Movies that are scary, but not too scary. Frightening on my terms, which of course, are not on any director or writer’s radar.

But whatever I might say about the films here in the US, it sounds like the Asian horror movies are taking it up to 11 and beyond. If even half of what I read in this book is accurate, these are movies that would probably frighten me to death, make me puke, and also get fixed in my head for all time.

I can handle The Ring, The Grudge, and have even seen the Asian originals that the watered-down American versions came from. And then I was done. They were at my limit. I know, I’m a sissy.

Still, I had fun reading about them. I like to know how things work. Reading about a movie’s creation is a glimpse into how movies work. Asia Shock also has some great bios of the actors, funny stories about the difficulty some films have in getting made, and much more.

I’m not sorry I read the book. If you’re an Asian horror fan, or think you might be interested, then this book appears to be a great survey of the revered films in the genre, and also a good look at the fringe of the fringe.

Enjoy! Or not…


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  • Boris January 11, 2011, 9:32 pm

    There’s scary and then there’s just disturbing – I find most “horror” films these days just disturbing and not even scary.

    I though The Grudge (Japanese) was pretty good. I think the original Japanese novel of The Ring was probably very good – my wife, who doesn’t read horror at all thought it was great, which says a lot. I tried to read it, but gave up after a few pages and a lot of dictionary page turning…

  • Chris B January 12, 2011, 2:40 pm

    ” … get fixed in my head for all time.”
    I heard one scene just described to me from Silence of the Lambs and promptly decided that that was enough and I DID NOT want to have THAT image with me forever. I don’t care how great a movie it might be, how much I love watching Jodi Foster and Anthony Hopkins – never have, never will.
    So, you think YOU’RE a wimp? HA!