Friday, October 25, 2013

Horror Stories (DVD Review) - Artsploitation Films

South Korea/2012
Directed By: Ji Yeong-Hong, Beom-sik Jeong, Gok Kim, Sun Kim, Dae-wung Lim, Kyu-Dong Min
Written By: Beom-sik Jeong, Gok Kim, Sun Kim,
Dae-wung Lim, Kyu-Dong Min
Starring: Ji-won Kim, Tae-woo Kim, Bo-ra Nam
Color/109 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
I'm a big fan of horror anthologies, I know I've said it before but it is a great way of getting some great stories and ideas filmed without stretching them to fill their own feature length run time and destroying them. There has been a recent resurgence in the popularity of these films in the horror genre with the V/H/S films, The ABCs Of Death and other titles like The Theater Bizarre, there has been no shortage of anthology films of late. HORROR STORIES from South Korea joins the ranks and stands up to the rest quite well.

The film begins with a girl bound and gagged while a man watches over her. After having her promise to follow his instructions he removes the tape from her mouth and allows her to speak. He informs her that he can't sleep without being scared, or tasting blood and it is her job to tell him stories to scare him or else she'll have to bleed. The first story she tells the man is Don't Answer The Door, the story of a young brother and sister who are home alone waiting for their mother to return from work. They're instructed to answer the door for nobody and tell the delivery man to drop his parcel at the door. This goes fine until they retrieve the parcel and the door fails to close allowing an invasion by some nasty looking men. This story is great and my favorite of the bunch. It is tense and stressful and brought me back to the days of being young enough where I wouldn't feel comfortable being home alone, not knowing who might be outside. The kids gave great performances and the intruders were creepy as hell.

Next was Endless Flight, about a convicted serial killer terrorizing an airplane after escaping police custody. This was my least favorite of the bunch but was still pretty good. The killer has a few moments that I loved, one involving a pair of headphones and a flight attendant. It does have a couple twists and turns to keep things interesting. Secret Recipe was next and this is a play on classic fairy tales with jealous sisters, their "prince", psychological horror and some seriously macabre intentions. This one was especially cruel and nasty. This was also the only story that didn't have a sense of claustrophobia or very close quarters. Finally there was Ambulance On The Death Zone, which is a ride through zombie infested streets in the back of an ambulance with a potentially infected victim. The claustrophobia element is highest here and despite a few inconsistencies is a pretty fun ride. Excuse the pun. 

HORROR STORIES isn't perfect, not by far. What it is, is a well made, entertaining movie featuring 4 solid stories and a decent wrap around. You can count HORROR STORIES among the films that make me a fan of horror anthology films.  

The Audio & Video
Artsploitation Films delivers HORROR STORIES on DVD with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is a bit hit or miss. Brighter scenes look very good and have a nice quality to them with strong, vibrant colors while darker scenes suffer from blocking weak black levels. It never gets to the point of unwatchable but it is a disappointment because the film deserves better. The audio is quite good with its 2.0 stereo mix in its native Korean. English subtitles are optional and easy to read. 

The Extras
Special features include interviews with cast members and trailers for other Artsploitation Films releases. The DVD also includes a nice 12 page booklet and reversible cover art.

The Bottom Line 
Despite a less than stellar video transfer, HORROR STORIES is a strong enough horror anthology to warrant a purchase and expand its fan base as it stands among the better horror anthologies during the recent revival of the format.


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