Asian Horror Movies VS American Horror Movies



Asian horror movies have been gaining popularity in the US for the past few years. There are many reasons why but one of the biggest reasons is that they are just so different from American horror movies. Asian horror films tend to be much more psychological and integrate practicality even when the supernatural are involved.

In America, many horror movies use violence in the forefront with little to no plot. They are designed to shock and scare, but not to make you think. Asian horror movies, on the other hand, are often slower paced and atmospheric. They are designed to get under your skin. That isn’t to say that American horror movies are only gore-fests and over the years American horror has changed. Many of our classic horror films, however, are centered around killers─ Halloween, Scream, Psycho, American Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, Misery, Hush, The Last House on the Left, Panic Room, Fear, The Strangers, The Hills Have Eyes, You’re Next, Us, etc. This is likely due to the fact that Americans believe we are the true monsters and capable of horrific things.

How does religion come into play for both cultures?

In America, Christian symbols such as crosses and Bibles are often used to ward off evil. In Asia, Buddhist and Taoist rituals are sometimes used for the same purpose. American films often focus on individualism, while Asian films often focus on collectivism. American films also tend to be more graphic and explicit, while Asian films tend to be more subtle and suggestive. Specifically, the explicit nature of our films. Asian films pack plenty of graphic scenes, but they are far less aggressive than it’s Western counterpart.

One of the biggest differences between Asian and American horror movies is how religion is used to frighten. In America, there are moral tales that are deeply rooted in Western Christian ideologies and core beliefs. For example, in the movie The Exorcist, a young girl is possessed by a demon and the only way to save her is through an exorcism. This was considered one of the most frightening films of all-time because even today, in 2023 people believe that demonic possession is very real and that you must have a priest exorcise the spirit from the person or a place. (in some cases things, like Annabelle, a film based off of an allegedly true story about a doll possessed by a little girl’s spirit). Another example is in the 1979 film Amityville Horror which was based off of a ‘true story.’ The film’s focus was on the experiences of George and Kathy Lutz who had moved into the home around a year after the Amityville grisly murders had taken place. They recount tales of slamming doors, strange odors, and bizarre goo rising from the floors. The story does touch on the true story of Twenty-three year old mass murderer Robert DeFeo Jr. who took a rifle and killed all six family members in their sleep. The biggest mystery in all of this was how they all stayed asleep in their bed while the shots were fired. And while DeFeo claimed that he drugged them before killing them, the coroner found no evidence of sedatives used. How does it make the story supernatural in nature by religion? DeFeo later told authorities that he was driven mad by a Santanic presence in the home. He (of course) plead not guilty by reason of insanity (the devil made him do it) This type of supernatural tale is a very commonplace in American horror films.

In Asian horror movies, religion is used in a very different way. Religion is a way to explain the unexplainable. For example, in the Japanese horror film Ringu (which became so popular we had a re-make made in 2002 called The Ring), a cursed videotape kills anyone who watches it seven days after they view it. The only way to break the curse is to copy the videotape and show it to someone else. The vengeful spirit is known as a Onryō, a woman spirit so filled with hatred by how they died that it can actually project their hatred into objects and curse them. And as mentioned in the movie, she never stops, nothing you can do will make it right, the only way to avoid it (in this case) is to pass the misery along to someone else and make them watch the tape.

Another prime example of this film style was the Japanese film, Ju-On (the grudge). This was also world-renowned and had several re-makes and sequels. While (unfairly) compared with Ringu, this story isn’t just about angry spirits of the dead─ it talks about how their hatred ran so deep it placed a curse on the home itself. Anyone that entered the home would be doomed to the same fate, consumed by the wrath of the vengeful spirits.

Morality is very strong in many Asian horror films, just like in the U.S., and tells cautionary tales of how we should treat others with respect (what goes around comes around, or Karma). One of the creepier films I have watched was the 2004 Thai film Shutter. The very end scene just really tied everything together from the beginning to the end. It is one of the highest grossing films in Thailand and is known worldwide.

The movie tells a tale of a woman and her photographer boyfriend driving when the young woman accidentally hits a girl on the road. Jane tries to get out of the car, but her boyfriend, Tun, forbids her from doing it and they drive away, leaving the girl to die on the road. Soon after, Tun begins to notice shadows and faces in his photographs. Jane then comes to the conclusion that it is the captured images of the girl they ran over and that she is haunting them. I won’t give any spoilers, but suffice it to say, this film is both creative and masterfully done. I highly recommend that you see it!

We also see an example of how religion differs in the Korean horror movie: A Tale of Two Sisters.

The sisters come home from an extended stay at a mental hospital after being treated for psychosis. Since their mother’s death, Soo-Mi and Su-Yeon have discovered that many things have changed. Their stepmother, Yun-Joo, greets them upon their arrival but tension quickly begins to mount. Many strange things begin happening including their stepmother continually picking on the both of them. They continue to endure this for the sake of their father, who has become very cold and distant toward his girls. It becomes worse as they begin to see ghostly visions and it is eventually revealed that what is actually happening takes on an interesting turn of events. I won’t spoil it for you (if you haven’t seen it, go rent it now!) Suffice it to say that religion and superstition play a key role in what is happening. While religion is used as a device in both cultures and styles of films, the way we utilize them are different in nature.

One thing to note in both Asian and American horror movies are the differences in the settings. In America, horror movies are often set in small towns or rural areas. Usually in hospitals, old homes with histories, schools, and churches. This is because America is a very large country with a lot of open space. Many American horror films confine hauntings to an area or an object we take with us. In other words, the spirits stay put or are trapped inside of an object. Unless of course, we are talking about possession films, then all bets are off! Asian countries, on the other hand, are much more densely populated. This means that many Asian horror movies are set in cities or urban areas. It also makes it to where nothing is safe, you cannot hide. And while, they also have spirits attached to objects (and homes), in some Asian cultures, the objects themselves can become evil entities that were not haunted by the lost souls of humans. At least, not all of them.




How else do our horror films differ?



While we do have films where supernatural exists, it is normally always centered around human spirits, or demons. While there are definitely movies that break the mold, for the most part we are talking about the classic American and popularized films within the U.S. Many of our supernatural beings are based off of either restless human souls or spirits, or dark entities such as demons. Mass amounts of panic have been around since the Puritan society spouting nonsense about devil worshippers, cultists, and witches that do the devil’s bidding. And then finally, of course, the fear of the Devil himself. And while the Salem Witch Trials are believed to have lasted longer, the trials occurred from roughly February 1692 – May 1693. Not long at all as far as mass panic, but still very notable in history. Not to mention ruining the lives of probably more than two hundred people accused of witchcraft. While that happened to cause wide spread panic and probably where ‘The Devil made me do it,’ stemmed from, there later was a growing unease across the United States about devil worshipping from the 1970’s through the 1980’s. Devil worshipping was indeed considered to be a real concern back in the seventies, especially after the Charles Manson murders, but America didn’t go into full panic mode until the 1980’s. It was so bad that it was actually later coined the Satanic Panic. Our roots throughout American history have always been planted in the belief of God and the Devil. The other popularized belief is that some spirits are benevolent that come to warn us of danger, or in some cases actually push us out of harm’s way. (Such as the supposed experience of the ghost children pushing cars over the train tracks.) But other beliefs say that demons can disguise themselves as those lost to us and trick us into harming ourselves or others. Angels, demons, spirits─ all pretty much still widely used in supernatural horror in the U.S.   

While, again, these are just summarizations of popularized films and viewpoints they really do showcase many differences between the two, especially societal norms.  

  


Just for fun, let’s list some common horror tropes!



American horror films:

  • Final girl. She is the last woman standing against the killer or intergalactic fiends. She is almost always pure in nature and doesn’t sleep around. She has a strong sense of justice and never chooses the easy way out.
  • Jump scares. While I have seen these start to change and film directors are becoming more creative with them, I get so irritated at the same tired tropes with jump scares. At some point it just felt sad that I could pinpoint exactly when it would happen─ and it always did.
  • Indian burial grounds. Let’s face it, the best takes on these were Pet Cemetery, Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, and The Shining. While those are beloved classics for a reason, they are becoming a tiresome trope.
  • Demonic possessions. The idea that people can become possessed by demons or evil spirits. Prime examples of these are Insidious, The Exorcist, Hereditary, and The Conjuring.
  • Abandoned buildings with a history. Usually something to do with homes, schools, or hospitals that are haunted by the spirits that died in terrible ways.
  • Slashers. We barely need more than a handful of words to explain these films. Maniac killers, dumb hot girls, having sex = death, splitting up, and gore. Lots and lots of gore.
  • Don’t go in there! Seriously, we need to have scary shit happen in sunny and seemingly normal safe spaces. It would be far scarier if it happened during the day while you were on the potty playing games.
  • Masculine horror. Let’s face it, we love our bad guys to be ripped walls of men that are armed with creepy ass masks and big machete’s. (wink) For years, it’s centered around murders, the more gruesome the better, and jump scares. When people here to go a scary film, they want to jump, scream, and laugh. I mean, the entire slasher genre has half naked girls running around in shredded clothing with fairly explicit sex scenes. Not to mention the vulgar dialog. Don’t get me wrong, I love dark humor─ but there is something about slashers that just make me want to take five showers after watching them.

Asian horror movies often have a different approach. They may focus more on the psychological aspects of fear, rather than the physical. And let me tell you, when they do body horror, you feel that shit in your soul. I mean─ yeah, our body horror is disgusting and usually very vulgar, but their body horror goes to a whole other level.

Asian horror films:

  • Woman scorned. When a tragedy happens where women are wronged, in many Asian countries they come back as a vengeful spirit. This also can mean a woman that is still alive. It’s a very common theme throughout many Asian horror films that I have noticed and while we do have films here that have angry spirits that are female─ there is a more prominent presence of it in many Asian and Southeast Asian tales.
  • Pale skin, long black hair. Whether from folklore or superstition, this woman of terror always exists. Who could ever forget the lasting horror of Ju-on, Shutter, Ringu, etc. If something crawled up my legs while I was in bed and I pulled back my sheets to that face, I think being ‘terrified’ is putting it mildly.
  • Emphasis placed on suspense and general un-ease. In many Asian films, there is an atmospheric creep factor. It is paced to build tension until the terror peaks. It isn’t full of jump scare tactics, or gore just for the sake of gore. Vulgarity, (even for some very uncomfortable adult scenes that were completely horrific to watch – especially rape scenes even done tastefully as odd as that sounds) is something that is approached far different than our own. There is a purpose behind their gore to move the story along, instead of using it to only shock and appall the audience.
  • Horror is open ended and allows the viewer to interpret the scenes as they see fit. While Americans do use the horror genre as an outlet for religion, political controversy, and morality─ this is more prevalent in our Asian counterparts. They don’t just ‘tell’ us what is going on, they let the viewer experience it.
  • Feminine horror compared to masculine horror. Asian horror is often seen as haunting, creating a sense of cold, clammy dread as the movie progresses. There are no dude-bros running around screaming with chainsaws held over their heads and intestines pinned on their vest. Each scene flows sensually and curves around the viewers brain, stimulating thoughts and provoking the audience to think about what is happening.

While obviously there are very well made horror films here that don’t deserve to be lumped into all of our horror film generalizations─ it’s fun to take a look at all the differences that make our cultures what they are!

Thursday thoughts

I’ve been quiet, I know. Sorry to all those waiting for the next chapters in The Watchmen novella and the new season of The Haunting Hour Podcast. But, I should have my next chapter up soon of The Watchmen and I’m starting a recording for the podcast! Finding a new social media platform has been a struggle with all the things going on right now. It’s made me feel isolated and lonely. Twitter felt like more of a social place the last few years and then suddenly, I noticed less and less people reaching out, commenting, and messaging. It’s felt so bizarre. Facebook is a place that I’ve had many negative experiences on so there is a part of me that feels apprehensive about going back to that. I may make a new account on there but I remain skeptical that much has really changed.

So this is me on a Thursday morning reflecting on what social media would really help me feel social. It gives me a strong sense of completely starting over again. And while it is my own fault for staying quiet as I fight my inner demons and deep depression, I just want to have that sense of comradery again. I hope that all of you are having a wonderful week and enjoyed time with your family and friends this past Thanksgiving! Ours was quiet and small and for me that is wonderful. Large gatherings really make me feel nervous. Conventions are hell for me x.x which is why I stopped going to several of them, it was completely overwhelming. I may go to more a little later but for now it’s the comfortable quiet.

Hopefully I’ll have the next chapters up soon and the podcast going strong with the new season! Happy Thursday y’all!

xoxo – Grey

Sunday Funday

What better way to spend a Sunday than watch anime and decorate for Halloween 🎃

Edens Zero was a series I actually wasn’t expecting much of, but it’s a great show! Even more surprising is that the voice acting is pretty great in English! And the fight scenes are actually pretty badass. I had watched a bit before but never paid a lot of attention. I went back and watched it and wow! I’m already on episode twelve. Nyehehe

Anyway, I thought I’d say hello (hewo) and that writing and an easier way to read my writing is coming soon. The Haunting Hour Podcast starts back this Wednesday, October 19th! Just in time for spooky, scary deliciousness~

Happy Sunday and …sweet dreams tonight~

Haunting Hour Podcasts Starting Back Up!

Hey guys! It’s been a bit and a long emotional journey but finally I have found a place to live. I am so very lucky to be able and record in my own room which is so foreign to me that I was in shell shock for two days just staring at the beauty. My own room for art, and recording. While I have a long time ahead to be able and replace all of my things, I am grateful that I have been able to replace my microphone.

For those of you left in the dark, I was caught in the floods in Dallas and my home was completely destroyed. I had to live in hotels until this week and finally am able to get back to a normal life.

I’ve been trying to decide when the big day will be that I can finally start releasing more episodes and believe that I can start on either the first or second week of October. Just in time for the spookiness! Needless to say that I am ecstatic for my favorite time of year to begin. While most of my holiday décor was destroyed, I can at least carve pumpkins and maybe string up festive garland. Oh and movies. Lots and lots of creepy movies. This time of year is just the best and I love it!

Of course as most of you know, I’m not one to keep up with social media and I’m a bit of a hermit but I do so love to write and make podcasts for all of you. Know that your dark story mistress is back babyyyy and we’re all about to get our spooky on again.

  • xoxo Grey

This week’s adventure in flood land

Not going to lie, this past month has been hard. Our entire (very up to date vaccinated staff) office got the new variant of COVID. No one in Dallas is talking about it, but several of my buds working in hospitals have said they’re filling capacity again.

So. That was fun.

My new hire was a complete bust. It was a hard lesson learned not to purchase work attire for them before seeing if they stay.

It took a couple weeks, but finally got a new hire and man she seems great. Here’s hoping.

Because I had to hold down the fort while people were in quarantine, I ended up getting it myself. But I can’t shut down so I had to power through, take meds, sanitize everything several times a day and warn customers. Let’s just say burn out was putting it lightly as to what I was feeling.

Oh, and it was great getting a one star review because I wasn’t able to answer the phones and a lot of text messages. 👍

Thank goodness they removed it after I explained the situation and apologized. It was just exhausting. But finally, we were able to get things back on track.

So the new girl was hired, business was running smoothly, and I got to spend an awesome weekend with my daughter.

Then it happened.

Around 3:00 a.m. I woke up to my entire downstairs flooded.

My life was down there. My daughter’s life was down there. I managed to save computers (at least I hope, I have been leaving them off just in case.)

I was in shock most of today, trying to dig through what I could salvage. I had to be really careful because flood water contains sewage.

Literally 90% of her stuff was not salvageable. A good 60-70% of mine was also not.

The most devastating thing was my recording equipment. I can’t even think about that without feeling like I’m about to cry. I just bought that equipment and it’s gone.

And this isn’t even everything. It’s all I have the heart to post. For my recording area.

All my downstairs furniture, specialty cooking ware, food, craft supplies, art supplies, easels, paintings, the list goes on. Several thousand dollars gone. Just. Gone.

I can really use some good vibes guys, and virtual hugs.

Take care everyone. Hope all is well with you.

Love Grey

Thursday Vibes

Hello fine people of the internet! I find myself getting more and more excited as the hot months begin to pass. It’s barely halfway through August and I can feel my excitement for Halloween mounting.

If you haven’t already checked out our visit to Camp Chrystal Cove, you can find them here: https://soundcloud.com/cagreyson Our last day is coming soon, so you better catch up!

I’m polishing up my final tale to record and then we will all gather around the campfire, gorge ourselves on s’mores, and shiver with delight as we try not to look over our shoulders─ too much.

With that being said, we’ll return back to our normal podcast of the creepy, spooky, and downright terrifying stories of urban legends, mythologies, and the supernatural. Have a great Thursday guys~

Stay creepy.

xoxo Grey

Why the Haunting Hour has been delayed. (Don’t worry, it’s coming!)

The hell that is my current life is showing no mercy, and I’m feeling burned out. Believe it or not, I really enjoy making these Haunting Hour podcast. They’re a huge stress relief for me! Trust me when I say, I’m bummed that my show had to be put off so much. :/ However, know that I will be posting it this week, I’ve been recording and editing as I can and am confident I will have it out for all of you this week. (In fact, I know so!) Let’s just take a peek into my window of the last two weeks─ without going into too many details:

We are very understaffed right now. My company has gone to the point of finally needing a new employee. I was excited to finally have found someone that could start within two weeks. That Monday rolled around and I got a text message from the new employee that she had been in a car accident and wouldn’t be able to come in until the next day. I was suspicious but told her to take care of herself and keep me updated. She followed up with me and let me know it was just a minor injury and that she would be in. She did come in─ 15 minutes late. I was irritated but started training her and within a few hours she was able to answer the phones and ring people up. The end of the work day came and then the next day she came in on time. I was relieved and thought that maybe she was just nervous and having a rough week. We make it to lunch time when she tells me her sister has gone into labor.

Ok, now I’m in red flag zone. But, as an employer I can’t legally tell her to stay in the event of an emergency. I tell her to go ahead and she leaves. The next day, she claims her sister has lost the baby. While terrible and something no one should have to go through, I am at this point convinced she has been lying. No one has this much drama within the span of a week. That’s a lot of bad things. But, again, I’m thinking “ok, weird.” But whatever the drama was, it was clear she had too much going on. I told her to take the weekend and come in early on Monday since she was all apologies and telling me she would make up for it.

Guess what text message I got over the weekend? She quit.

So now, already over-worked and no new employee, we got to the point that we couldn’t even take phone calls and could only take customers in-store or over text.

Oh how I wish it would have stopped there.

All of us were (understandably) exhausted. One of our employees started feeling ill so I told them to go ahead and take the next day off. She had been having sinus issues and coughing. I could tell she was really tired. After a very long day the next morning I get a text. She had covid. Woo boy. I was so glad that I’m very diligent in cleaning the store very well and have the employees use hand sanitizer. Then that same day, one of my technicians came in sounding like he had a cold. I immediately told him to go get tested and to go home.

Guess what? Two employees down. Then the assistant manager comes in looking completely dead. So, I tell them the same thing. Within less than a week literally ALL of my employees have it. There’s a variant going around that is able to get around the shot. It’s mandatory in my business to keep up with shots and boosters. The issue is, some of us had been a little late in getting the newest booster and boom, guess who all got it? Now I’m panicking and thinking that I probably have it if everyone else does. But three and then four days go by─ no symptoms. I’m scheduled to get tested this week but have been warning customers and telling them to wear a mask.

So here we are. I am running a store by myself with a business that needs at least 4 people to function.

Lord help me, I am so ready for this quarantine to be done so they can come back. But, just so you know I am definitely feeling crushed that I’ve had to delay the show.

In any case, know that I’m doing my best and that it will be released this week.

Love you all!

xoxo Grey

This Week’s Episode of The Haunting Hour Release info!

Hello! Happy Saturday to all of you and of course a wonderful 4th of July weekend. (Don’t blow off your fingers! ;D) With the coming holiday I found myself completely swamped from all the people that wanted cool air this weekend. (imagine that) So unfortunately I wasn’t able to release on my normal day. I will have it posted tomorrow for all of you folks that continue listen to my nonsense~

Just wanted to update all of you and say, have super awesome Saturday~

xoxo,

Grey