“Why pray when Prayers are useless?”
Ghost Game is a Taiwanese movie from 2006 that caused a lot of controversy upon its release due to the movie’s setting which echoed The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which is a memorial in Cambodia to the killing fields during The Khmer Rouge’s time in power. The movie is banned in Cambodia & caused a great deal of tension between the two countries.
In Ghost Game 11 contestants are brought to an old war museum in Cambodia which was the site of dreadful atrocities committed by the communist troops on the inmates during the reign of the infamous Khmer Rouge, ending in a “Jonestown” type mass slaughter. Accompanied by the by the makers of the game show, the contestants enter the prison, each hoping to win the competition & prize money of 5 million Baht. The producers of the show have set up various tricks to spook the contestants into leaving until only one remains. It’s not long before contestants & crew disturb the spirits of the victims of the prison & the game becomes a deadly matter of life & death.
The plot of Ghost Game is simple enough. It combines elements of Battle Royale, R-Point & My Little Eye to make an effective movie. The trouble with Ghost Game is it’s sub genre. The ghost genre is a popular topic in Asian horror & the market is virtually flooded with these sorts of film. From the aforementioned R-Point, through the popular Ringu & Ju-on films to the classic Shutter there are literally hundreds of ghost movies in Asian cinema. This means that for any film of this type it really has to shine to be noticed. Ghost Game sadly doesn’t. I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, far from it. Despite having it’s faults Ghost Game is a well made & competent movie. it just lacks that extra something that makes the likes of Shutter so good. The movie has some real highpoints. The setting of the movie is wonderfully creepy. The abandoned prison is a grim & foreboding place & provides a wonderful setting for the film. The cinematography is wonderful. The movie is bathed in a greenish hue which really works for the movie’s atmosphere. The whole reality TV show theme also, despite being a well-worn genre idea works quite well. The contrast of what is seen in the prison compared to what is shown on the banks of TV monitors in the control room works well. But Ghost Game is not without its flaws. There are too many characters & virtually no time is given to any characterisation. This leaves the movie with a group of stereotypical characters that it’s hard to warm to. The pacing of the movie isn’t great either. A long time is spent building up to a climax that seems very rushed. My last problem with Ghost Game may be more to do with me than the film. I am not a big fan of ghost movies. I generally find them dull. Unless the movie is something truly great like the wonderfully creepy Shutter this genre tends to leave me cold. Despite my love of Asian horror I even find classics like Ringu & Dark Water to be dull. Ghost Game didn’t really give me any sense of tension & atmosphere & seemed to rely on cheap & at times obvious jumps to illicit a reaction. I will say at least the movie avoided the clichéd “ghost with long hair” which seems to be a constant in these types of movie.
In closing Ghost Game is by no means a bad movie, it’s worth a watch & easily passed an hour & a half of my time. It just didn’t reach the heights it could have done. If you like a good ghost movie you could do a lot worse. Certainly worth a watch, just not spectacular.
“I have to marry a woman”
A Christmas day review, yes I’m bored. I have been watching a lot of Asian horrors recently & still have a few to watch so the site will have a heavy Asian bias for a while. Today’s review is yet another Taiwanese horror, Sick Nurses. This movie is often criticised but in my opinion is nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe.
The plot of Sick Nurses is pretty straight forward. Dr Tar works in a Bangkok hospital, along with seven nurses he is selling dead bodies on the black market. One of the nurses Tahwaan is in love with Dr Tar & believes he will marry her. She finds out her own sister Nook has been having an affair with Dr Tar & is pregnant by him & they plan to marry. Feeling betrayed Tahwaan threatens to call the police, before she can act she is captured by Dr Tar & the other six nurses & murdered. Her body is then placed on ice in the boot of Dr Tar’s car to be sold. According to Taiwanese folklore a spirit may return seven days after death & Tahwaan does exactly this to seek vengeance on her killers.
Sick Nurses does not set out to be high art or a nerve shredding creepfest. It is in essence part ghost story & part slasher. Tahwaan’s ghost is similar in style to the kind of apparition that can be seen in films like Ringu or Ju-on, but is much more prominent. Tahwaan’s ghost uses some inventive & gory ways to dispatch her killers including possession & it is here that the movie drifts into slasher territory as the nurses & haunted & killed one by one. It is these death scenes where the movie is at its best. Using both traditional ghost scares & some strong scenes of bloodshed & gore. The deaths are well staged & thought out. From the handbag decapitation to the movies standout scene where one of the nurses is forced to chew glass until she shreds her lower jaw off. The movie also ends with quite an interesting twist, one I certainly didn’t see coming. Having praised the movie so far it is not without its downsides. Ok let’s be honest here, this movie has a group of good-looking young Taiwanese actresses in tight-fitting nurses uniforms. While the movie attempts to cash in on this at the beginning, it seems to lose its nerve. Yes there are scenes of the nurses dancing round in shorts & whatever but no nudity. Now let me add I am not someone who needs nudity in my films, but if you are going to film a shower scene, either film it from the shoulders up or have the person naked. In Sick Nurses one of the nurses showers fully clothed, please! It just looks stupid. The movie needed to either to make the most of its good-looking cast or avoid that kind of thing all together. The other problem with the movie echoes the first flaw. The film doesn’t really know what it wants to be. As a ghost story it fails to illicit any real jumps or scares & as a slasher it is average at best. Directors Pirapan Laoyont & Thodsapol Siriwiwat would have been better served making either a full on ghost story or a mean-spirited slasher, not a mixture of the two.
When all is said & done Sick Nurses is an ok movie, certainly worth a watch as it will entertain for an hour & a half, just don’t expect too much. If you want a creepy, scary movie, watch the amazing Shutter instead. If you want a slasher try Invitation Only. Having said that if you get the chance, ignore the haters & give Sick Nurses a try.
“This is the most overexaggerated part of the movie”
Sars War is a Taiwanese horror/comedy from 2004. Part zombie movie, part manga, part superhero, part monster movie & utterly insane this isn’t going to appeal to everyone but for those it does, it’s one hell of a fun ride.
As the movie starts the Taiwanese government assures the public it is sars free, especially the deadly sars 4 strain, which turns its victims into flesh-eating zombies. Meanwhile in Africa the virus is at epidemic level. A hornet bites an infected zombie & during its long travels gets hit by an airliner, landing in Taiwan. Here it stings a man on the back of the neck, infecting him. Meanwhile a dodgy businessman’s daughter Lui is kidnapped for ransom by a gang of crooks led by a transvestite. The businessman hires an old friend, Master Thep to rescue his daughter. Thep having been injured in his previous outing sends his protegé Khun Krabii to rescue her. Krabii tracks Lui to a highrise apartment building which happens to be where the infected man has gone. Soon the building is overrun by zombies & even a giant zombie python called Albert! Master Thep sensing danger rushes to the building to help just as it is sealed by the authorities. He enters the building disguised as one of the health team sent in to the building headed by Dr Diana who is wearing some rather fetching latex hot pants under her decontamination suit! What follows is just insanely over the top.
If the preceding plot synopsis seems muddled it is because trying to write a synopsis without giving away too much of this movie is like clapping with one hand! The movie has been labelled as Taiwan’s answer to Braindead/DeadAlive. While I can see where people would make that comparison, but they are two completely different movies. Sars War is so ridiculously over the top it almost defies description. The comedy in the movie is extremely silly including some ridiculous sound effects, but had me laughing throughout. The acting ranges from adequate to downright dreadful & the special effects are patchy at best. But none of that matters. The zombie baby CGI is dreadful but it still makes you laugh for the right reasons. The movie moves at breakneck pace & there is seldom a dull moment. Suthep Po-ngam as Master Thep steals the movie, his performance is pure comedic gold, often breaking the fourth wall & referring to the movie itself. I must also mention Lene Christensen as Dr Diana who looks drop dead gorgeous (pun intended) in her latex hot pants & fishnet top. The movie’s finale takes the lunacy to the nth degree, twisting what has gone before & utilising animated sequences to fill in backstory & bizarre plot twists. I really can’t think of any other way of describing this, just see it for yourself.
Sars War is one of those films you are either going to love or hate. It really is a “Marmite” movie. If you enjoyed films like Wild Zero & Bio Zombie then this film is for you. Personally I loved it, it’s one of those so dreadful its wonderful movies that just entertain. A perfect beer & pizza movie.