Ghosts, Horror, Slasher, Supernatural, Zombies

Horror Stories (2012)

Comments Off on Horror Stories (2012) 11 January 2014

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Studio:  Daisy-Cinergy Entertainment/Soo Film

Distributed By:  Artsploitation Films 

US Home Video Release:  October 8, 2013

Directors:  Jung Bum-sik, Im Dae-woong, Hong Ji-young, Kim Gok, Kim Sun, Min Kyu-dong

Rating:  Not Rated

Reviewed By James M. Dubs

I’ll watch anything…including Horror Stories (aka Moo-Seo-Woon I-Ya-Gi).

Artsploitation Films is starting to carve out a little niche as a distributor who offers a decent catalog of little known foreign films. Wither (reviewed by yours truly), and Hidden in the Woods (reviewed by James Klein) are just a couple of Artsploitation Films releases that Unratedfilm.com has reviewed. In both cases these entries proved to be average films worthy of viewership, but nothing that broke new ground in any meaningful way. Now with the South Korean anthology feature Horror Stories, Artsploitation Films adds yet another diverse title to its ever growing catalog but does the film elevate Artsploitation Films, anthology films, Asian cinema, or horror films in any new and exciting direction?

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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The short answer is no. As an entry into Asian cinema, we’ve seen it all before in films like The Grudge, and The Ring. As an entry in the anthology horror genre, we get everything from ghosts, a home invasion, a zombie apocalypse, and serial killers. The bad news is that each story has been done before and better. However, don’t let that deter you, especially if you are not as well versed in these genres. It is certainly no sin that an anthology film lacks originality since they are a dime-a-dozen (See here, here, or here).

Horror Stories is made up of five stories:

  1. The “wrap around” story in which a young woman is held against her will and is forced to tell her deranged captor a series of scary stories grizzly enough to put him sleep.
  2. Don’t Answer the Door, a chilling home invasion tale that puts two unsupervised young children in imminent peril.
  3. Endless Flight is a straight forward cat and mouse thriller in which a serial killer is loose on an airliner and the flight crew fight to survive.
  4. Secret Recipe, a twisted variation of Cinderella in which two sisters compete for the affections/marriage of a mysterious suitor who has his own secret to hide.
  5. Ambulance on the Death Zone is another take on the virus/zombie/apocalypse genre in which a handful of survivors flee the “death zone” in an ambulance and lead the audience on a journey that forces us to question the real threat – the infected or our own projected fears?

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Of the pack, my personal favorite is Don’t Answer the Door which I found to be the most original, chilling, and atmospherically engaging. Endless Flight and Secret Recipe are my least favorite for different reasons. In Endless Flight the suspense is palpable, but formulaic. Secret Recipe has a “twist” that can be seen a mile away just by reading the title. Fortunately, Ambulance on the Death Zone saves the day by offering a slightly new interpretation on the zombie survival story.

The good news is what the film lacks in originality it makes up for in variety and expertly well-crafted stories that are fun, entertaining, and at times chilling. Horror Stories should appeal to many horror fans and, as is the case with all anthology films, not every tale of terror is equal. However, all five stories are entertaining and viewers will discern their own personal favorites from the collective pack.

Video Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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For a DVD, I was pretty unimpressed with the video presentation. There are a number of problems that may stem from Artsploitation’s conversion methods from PAL to NTSC format. The video image “flickers” or “stutters” often and is noticeable on the most basic of panning or dolly shots. Furthermore, when the image is dark, which is often, blacks are murky at best and the image has a posterized effect where shades from one color to another appear blocky. Perhaps I’m being too harsh because the whole film doesn’t suffer from these irregularities constantly, but after seeing such a great presentation on Wither, I can’t help but feel disappointed.

Audio Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dolby Stereo. Korean language. English subtitles. It’s clean, sounds good, and gets the job done. There is no alternate English language dub track so for the dumb Americans who can’t watch movies with subtitles, feel free to take a pass and go waste your money on the newest Paranormal Activity flick.

Extras Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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All in all the extras are worthy additions. Unfortunately the sum does not add up to a whole lot.

  1. 8:44 minutes of brief cast interviews: The interviews are nice if you care about what the actors think about their stories/characters, but it amounts to “behind-the-scenes lite” and won’t delve any deeper than what the director’s have already conveyed artistically.
  2. Horror Stories trailer and additional Artsploitation Films releases.
  3. 12-page collectible booklet: The most in-depth information regarding the film lies inside the “collectible” booklet. I foresee Artsploitation Films eventually spending the money to replace these in-print interviews and producing video content for their DVDs. Regardless, this is by far the best extra here. 
  4. Reversable cover art: Like with Wither, it’s unnecessary, but I’m a fan of the trend of producing two sided cover art.

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Perhaps the biggest offense perpetrated by Horror Stories is the unoriginal title. “Hey Guys! Let’s make a movie about a bunch of horror stories. We’ll call it…Horror Stories!” Lame!

Bad title aside, Horror Stories is certainly more creative and inventive than the title would suggest. If you’ve read any number of my reviews you will already know that I’m a huge fan of anthology horror and to sum it up, Horror Stories is a well-made and worthy addition to any anthology collection. Although not perfect, it is never dull and each of the five entries entertains from beginning to end allowing it to sit well in between the likes of Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, or V/H/S, to name a few.

About the author: James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed – popular, obscure, independent, etc. He’ll watch anything for you.

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- who has written 65 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed - popular, obscure, independent, etc. He'll watch anything for you.

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