In America, horror films have evolved and altered throughout time, from classical monsters to creatures born of the atomic era to true horrors and slasher murders. Later, when horror films from Asia were discovered in the 1990s, Hollywood picked up a new trend. Whether it was Japanese or asian horror movies, America began recreating them on a regular basis.
But, as is so often the case, Hollywood rarely manages to get the mood and atmosphere of best asian horror movies right when reproducing it. Whereas most Americans are familiar with the terrifying, quick – tempered demonic youngsters, Asian horror encompasses much more. The finest Asian horror films of all time are listed here.
There are many jewels to be found in foreign film, and scariest asian horror movies is no exception. Many of the finest horror films created in the United States have significant ties to foreign films, and the genre’s breadth is astounding. There is everything a horror fan could want, with ghost stories, bloody thrillers, and psychological mind twisters. With so many great movies to discover, we found five more horror asian movies guaranteed to haunt your dreams.
15 scary asian horror movies needs to watch.
15- Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum
Initial release: March 28, 2018
Director: Jung Bum-shik
Budget: US$2.2 million
Distributed by: Showbox
Why: This was such a pleasant asian horror movies experience. It’s a perfect balance of atmospheric feel of something scary, and though I often loathe jumpscares and aren’t easily scared by it, the jumpscares got me to look away from the screen and cover my ears. I don’t mind the slow beginning of the movie because it escalated so quickly when the ball started rolling though I understand how some people may be annoyed by it. I recommend this movie to those looking for a genuine scare. It’s best to watch it alone to get the whole experience.
Plot: An internet broadcaster recruits a handful of people for their ‘experience the horror’ show at Gonjiam. They are to explore the haunted asylum and stream it live on the show. These show hosts perform pranks on the visitors to entice more spectators, but things go out of hand once they’re inside the venue, where troubled souls may hide in the shadows.
14- Train to Busan
Release date: July 2016 (South Korea)
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Film series: Seoul Station
Box office: 98.5 million USD
Awards: Baeksang Arts Award for Best Supporting Actor in Film, MORE
Why: One of the top asian horror movies I’ve seen. There is no change that the best zombie movie keeps you hooked on at every scene. Excellent performance by Gong Yoo as Seok Woo; at first, he appeared self-centered but has fantastic character progress through the film, showing a man trying to protect his daughter. Kudos to the writers for that. Graphics and special effects were more than decent; it was great to think of it. In the end, a must-watch and rewatchable. O.M.G., I forget the little actress that plays the daughter; she’s so good. Her acting is so believable that you’ll cry, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t call many movies or real life.
Plot: Seok-woo, the fund manager, is a sarcastic perfectionist and the single dad of Su-an, who wishes to spend her birthday with her mother in Busan. Seok-woo views a video of Su-an at her singing concert, attempting to sing “Aloha Oe” but succumbing to stage anxiety due to his absence. He agrees to grant Su-birthday An’s desire, despite his shame. On Seoul Terminal, they board the KTX 101, which would take them to Busan the next day. Sang-Hwa and his pregnant girlfriend Seong-kyeong, Yon-suk, a high school soccer team led by Yong-guk and his cheerleader girlfriend Jin-hee, elderly sisters In-gil and Jong-Gil, and a scared homeless stowaway hiding in the lavatory are among the other passengers. An unwell young lady runs unobserved aboard the train as it departs. She transforms into a zombies and assaults a train conductor, who has also transformed. The disease quickly spreads across the train.
13- Ladda Land, Thailand
Release date: April 28, 2011 (Thailand)
Director: Sopon Sukdapisit
Awards: Thailand National Film Association Award for Best Picture, MORE
Producers: Jira Maligool, Vanridee Pongsittisak, MORE
Music composed by: Hualampong Riddim, Vichaya Vatanasapt, Vanilla Sky
Why: And by pure horror, a mean Thai mess – the master, king, and ruler of them all atrocities! This asian horror movies and story are for all you horror and suspense fans. It is indeed for all the drama and family love aficionados out there. Finally, there are no electric special effects, no animations, and only a few masks.
Plot: Whenever the family comes to Laddaland, an upmarket residential development with vast, gorgeous homes, they learn that life in their new neighbourhood isn’t so ideal when they are subjected to a series of terrible, paranormal incidents that push the household to the brink of insanity. This is a short description of the content.
12- THE WAILING (2016)
Release date: May 27, 2016 (U.S.A.)
Director: Na Hong-jin
Box office: US$51.3 million
Cinematography: Hong Kyung-Pyo
Music by: Jang Young-gyu; Dalpalan
Distributed by: 20th Century Studios
Why: One thing which I appreciated is the cinema South Koreans are into. They prove again and again to Hollywood that their days are gone when it comes to horror, thriller, and suspense. Now coming back to the movie, the wailing is a slow burner. The first half of the best asian horror movies 2016 will gradually make a hold on you by taking you deep in the dilemma of who is who and a tiny pinch of humor to keep your smile and then let’s talk about the second half, which is a table turner, things started revealing and this is the point where you will stick with the movie. Few scenes are chilling and full of goosebumps, and the ending will not disappoint you.
Overall, it’s a movie that I believe should be in the top asian horror movies 2016—a must-watch for horror lovers.
Plot: A mystery sickness breaks out after a Japanese man comes in Gokseong, a tiny town in the South Korean highlands, causing the people to turn insane and savagely murder their families.
Agents Oh Seong-bok and Jong-goo are discussing the Japanese stranger one night at the police station when a nude lady approaches in the rain. They eventually discovered that the afflicted lady had been raped by the Japanese stranger, had been seen nude in various locations multiple times, and had murdered her family. At the crime site, Jong-goo encounters Moo-myeong (“no-name” in Korean), a strange young woman who informs him the Japanese guy is a ghost and the perpetrator. When Jong-goo goes outside to summon Oh Seong-bok, the woman disappears and a scary creature appears. A native hunter claims to have seen the stranger in the jungle feasting raw venison with blazing red eyes.
11- THE EYE 3 (2005)
Release date: March 31, 2005 (Thailand)
Directors: Danny Pang Phat, Oxide Pang Chun
Music by: Payment Term Sit
Production company: Applause Pictures
Cantonese: Gin Gwai 10
Mandarin: Jiàn Guǐ 10
Why: I was trying to look forward to the third instalment after enjoying the very first two. I felt the Pang Brother has something special in store for me this time. I knew the brothers intended to make each episode of the Eye films unique while staying faithful to the film’s spirit, which I appreciated. The Eye was a more traditional ghost tale, The Eye 2 was a drama, and I knew The Eye 10 would be a young film. I thought it was a fantastic idea. So, how did I feel about the movie? It was a huge hit with me.
Plot: Chongkwai invites his Hong Kong pals Ted and his cousin May, as well as Kofi and his fiancée April, to Thailand. They witness an incident on the road while on a tourist trip, and when they return to Chongkwai’s house, they chose to tell ghost stories. They chose to follow the procedures after Chongkwai offers them a mystic book with 10 techniques to perceive ghosts. After Kofi vanishes, April searches for him, while Ted and Mary flee to Hong Kong. The ghosts, on the other hand, refuse to leave them and insist on playing with them. As a result, Ted and May return to Thailand in search of a way to prevent seeing ghosts.
10- I SAW THE DEVIL (2010)
Release date: August 12, 2010 (South Korea)
Director: Kim Jee-Woon
Box office: US$12.9 million
Music by: Mowing
Distributed by: Showbox, Magnolia Pictures, FineCut
Why: I Saw the Devil is one of the greatest horror/action films ever made and that ever will be made. It holds nothing back, not afraid to show its story in bloody detail while straddling the line of not letting that blood become the story. The gore always takes backstage to the masterful acting, writing, and cinematography that all come together to bring us a modern-day masterwork of horror. The moral dilemmas add extra layers of depth for us to push into, wondering if even this most horrible of humans deserves this punishment our “hero” is inflicting upon him. While we slowly realize that the heroin, our protagonist, is fading and fading fast. He tortures not only this man but those around him, some who deserve it, some who do not. I Saw The Devil is one of those rare asian horror movies that burns itself into your brain in every scene and leaves you frightened of it long after the blood and gore are forgotten.
Plot: A pregnant lady called Jang Joo-Yun is approached by a schoolbus driver named Jang Kyung-Chul, who offers to mend her flat tyre. Kyung-Chul dismembers Joo-Yun at his house after knocking her out, and while doing so, Joo-ring Hyun’s falls. Kyung-Chul disregards it, scattering the corpse pieces in a nearby creek. When a youngster discovers one of Joo-ears, Hyun’s the police arrive in force, commanded by Section Chief Oh and Squad Chief Jang, Joo-distraught Hyun’s dad, to undertake a searching. Kim Soo-Hyun, the perpetrator’s fiancé and a National Intelligence Service agent, is also there and vows to avenge the killer. Soo-Hyun learns about the four suspects from Squad Chief Jang and tortures and interrogates two of them personally. Soo-Hyun, the third suspect, discovers Joo-engagement Hyun’s ring while investigating Kyung-residence, Chul’s confirming that Kyung-Chul was the offender.
9- A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003)
Release date: June 13, 2003 (South Korea)
Director: Kim Jee-Woon
Music by: Lee Byung-woo
Box office: $1 million
Production company: B.O.M. Film Productions Co
Distributed by: Big Blue Film, Cineclick Asia
Why: A asian horror movies from 17 years ago has exceptionally captured a bittersweet tale of two sisters. The outstanding cast had depicted their character very well and drove the story to an emotional conclusion. Furthermore, the two sisters had portrayed great enviable chemistry, which left me a profound impact at the end.
Also, I would like to applaud those who worked with the storyline. Its meticulously and delicately arranged way, especially how it plays with the multiple complex points of view which intertwine with numerous flashbacks, had caused me to be breathless. As a result, it’s hard to leave every single scene because it turns into a piece of unexpected revelation.
Plot: After spending time in a mental institution, two devoted sisters return to the home of their father and cruel stepmother. An meddling ghost also hampers their recuperation after they arrive, in addition to coping with their mom’s compulsive, unstable behaviours.
8- UGETSU (1953)
Release date: March 26, 1953 (Japan)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Music by: Fumio Hayasaka
Based on: Ugetsu Monogatari; by Ueda Akinari
Production company: Daiei Film
Screenplay by: Matsutarō Kawaguchi; Yoshikata Yoda
Why: If you want to think of it as a Japanese ghost story, that’s fine, but it is more of a look deep into the souls of men and women and the sorrows and joys of each. Atmospheric, haunting (no pun intended), and completely self-contained based on stories from the 18th-century writer Ueda Akinari.
For a 21st century global citizen, it might seem these stories were written for someone living on the Moon, they are so far from our usual realms, but the souls of these characters still resonate. Well worth an hour and a half of your time.
Plot: Genjr, a potter, brings his products to adjacent mizo in the Sengoku era at the agricultural village Nakanog, on the shore of Lake Biwa in Mi Province. He is joined by Tbei, his brother-in-law, who aspires to be a samurai. Miyagi, Genjr’s wife, is warned by a revered sage not to pursue profit during times of turmoil and to prepare for an attack on the hamlet. Miyagi advises him to quit when he returns with earnings, but Genjr continues to work on his ceramics.
Shibata Katsuie’s army smashes into Nakanog that night, uprooting Genjr, Tbei, with their wives; Genjr decides to sell his pots somewhere. As the pair travels across Lake Biwa, a motorboat emerges from the dense fog. Their lone passenger informs them that pirates have attacked him, advises them to return home, and then dies. These men decide to bring their women back to shore, but Tbei’s wife Ohama resists. Miyagi implores Genjr not to abandon her, but she is abandoned on the beach with their infant son Genichi clutched to her back. Genjr’s pottery sells well in the market. Tbei buys samurai armour and infiltrates a samurai clan after stealing his portion of the money. Ohama, separated from her companions, ventures beyond Nagahama in pursuit of Tbei and is raped by troops.
7- THIRST (2009)
Release date: April 30, 2009 (South Korea)
Director: Park Chan-wook
Music by: Jo Yeong-work
Adapted from: Therese Raquin
Box office: US$13 million
Distributed by: C.J. Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Focus Features
Why: Very good, solid and original take on the vampire asian horror movies. Consistently shocking, with a wide range of emotions ranging from jaw-dropping brutality and gut-wrenching terror to genuine feelings of compassion and crazy hilarity. Perhaps a little longer than necessary, but it never drags, and even when the tempo slows, you’re still expecting some in episode that makes you cringe with distaste. Kang-Ho Song is fantastic as the more or less reluctant vampire, and OK-Vin Kim is fantastic as the, should we call, more eager tiny vampiric vamp Oh, then there’s the fact that she’s stunning, especially in the floral dress and complete flooding just at end. It was one of those scenes in a vampire film that I’ve always wanted to see. If it was so important and fascinating, don’t simply show us a set of teeth and a drip of blood; instead, do what Mr Park is doing and bring us all to the obvious end, ripping it open and sucking this out.
Plot: Sang-Hyun, a medical chaplain, generously volunteers for a top-secret vaccine research project aimed at eradicating a dangerous illness. The virus, on the other hand, gradually takes control of the priest. He nearly dies, however luckily lives owing to an unexpected injection of vampire blood. He understands that such joys of the flesh are his sole reason for being alive.
6- Man Behind the Sun (1988)
Release date: December 1, 1988 (Hong Kong)
Director: Mou Tun-Fei
Box office: HK$11.1 million; US$1.4 million
Language: Mandarin Chinese
Written by: Mei Liu; Wen Yuan Mou; Dun Jing Teng
Distributed by: Sil-Metropole Organisation
Cast: Hsu Gou, Dai Yao Wu, Zhaohua Mei, Tie Long Jin, MORE
Why: I like this film a lot. Many people go on and on about the “gore” and “animal” scenes, and I feel that anyone who fixated only on those aspects of MEN BEHIND THE SUN is missing the point. This film is a loose re-creation of actual events and should be viewed. I don’t see this as a asian horror movies at all. This is a detailed account of the atrocities committed against the Chinese by the Japanese during WWII, and these events are still being brushed under the rug or ignored outright. This, in my opinion, is a historically significant picture that should be seen as well.
Plot: The film opens with the passage, “Friendship is friendship; history is history.”
A group of Japanese boys is conscripted into the Youth Corps. People are entrusted to the Kwantung Army and sent to one of the institutions that serve Shiro Ishii’s Unit 731. Those who are soon exposed to the facility’s experimentation, for which they have a strong dislike. The studies are aimed at identifying a highly infectious form of bubonic plague that might be deployed as a very last weapon against with the Chinese people.
However, several young soldiers make friends with a neighboring mute Chinese youngster and play catch with him. The lads are asked by the commanding commanders to bring the Chinese youngster to the institution one day. They obey orders naively, assuming that the kid would not be harmed; unfortunately, the senior medical staff has the boy undergo surgery in order to collect his organs for study. When the young troops understand what has transpired, they conduct a mini insurrection by ganging up on their company commander and threatening to rape him.
5- Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (1995)
Initial release: April 8, 1995
Director: Shimako Satō
Production design: Ryodai Sakamoto
Why: Unlike many other Western horror films geared at teenagers, this Japanese high-school horror includes gore (including the old Asian favourite, the arterial geyser) and even a somewhat steamy lesbian love scene between a teacher and a female student: these wicked Japanese simply can’t really help themself. The gore and eroticism surely contribute to making this otherwise average demonic film bearable to watch.
Plot: Misa Kuroi is a sweet high school student who starts at a new school that has been overrun by an evil supernatural entity. While attempting to determine who is responsible for the odd incident, Misa must contend with the suspicions of her classmates, who assume she is the perpetrator. Misa and a group of twelve other students are detained later one day after school to repeat an exam.
However, after dark, the school is completely empty, trapping the pupils inside with their instructor nowhere to be seen. The thirteen pupils are taken up and then just horribly and ruthlessly disposed of. Misa must strive to acquire the trust of her classmates in order to defend them and destroy the darkness this before it’s too later.
4- Suddenly in the Dark (1981)
Release date: July 17, 1981 (South Korea)
Director: Go Yeong-nam
Why: I was only familiar with recent asian horror movies, which can be divided into two categories: (1) J-Horror type films that seek to emulate Japanese early-to-mid-2000s horror with impacts and shocking imagery, and (2) true Korean horror films with vengeance motifs and self reflection into the sick underside of Korean society, ideals, and morals.
This film, which was made in the early 1980s, pre-dating either of those waves, takes elements from modern European (Possession) and American (Images) quality horror and combines them with cultural prejudices about women’s roles and elements from Korean shamanistic culture. Generally, the acting is good (albeit certain moments are overacted at times), and the finale is chilling and terrifying. Fans of Korean cinema should check it out as a glimpse into the early stages of Korean horror.
Plot: Kang Yu-jin, a rich biology teacher conducting a butterfly field research, hires a new housemaid, Mi-ok, the girl of a shaman priestess who perished in a house fire lately. Yu-jin and his wife, Seon-hee, first warmly welcome Mi-ok into their house, however Seon-hee begins to have reservations when she notices a peculiar wooden doll delivered by the maid. Seon-hee gets increasingly concerned that Mi-ok is attempting to assassinate her and seize her home after having nightmares about the same beauty. In a moment of rage, Seon-hee leads Mi-ok to fall to her death. Seon-hee is tortured by images of the doll assaulting her up until that point.
3- Phone (South Korea)
Release date: July 26, 2002 (South Korea)
Director: Ahn Byeong-ki
Editor: Park Sun-deck
Music composed by: Lee Sang-ho
Nominations: Blue Dragon Film Award for Best Actress, MORE
Producers: Ahn Byeong-ki, Young Dae Kim, Lee Yo-han
Why: Some movie goers are adamant when viewing a feature that all cell phones be turned off. When viewing Phone, a film that merges thriller and horror genres features to produce a film that is akin to What Lies Beneath and One Missed Call, this notion is less of a recommendation and more of a must. It is not to be confused with the franchise mentioned above.
Phone is a fantastic horror film that grabs you from the opening credits with its powerful effects and eerie atmosphere, making the audience to both see and feel the panic, which crawls down their skin and sends shivers up the viewer’s backbone. But even though the directional cues of the horror elements related with the storey is given some leeway, which can be a touch coincidental on times and forsake some degree of logic, the shocks are certain to startle these well horror aficionado.
Plot: Ji-won, a writer, frequently gets threatening phone calls after authoring a series of pieces on a paedophilia scandal. As a result, she switches her phone number and relocates to an empty house owned by her sister Ho-Jung and her hubby, Chang-hoon. Young-Ju, Ho-daughter, Jung’s answers an anonymous phone call to Ji-new won’s number one day, then cries and faints. Young-Ju begins to develop an unsettling connection to her father and a furious rejection of her mother a few days later. Meanwhile, Ji-won receives additional anonymous phone calls and witnesses a long-haired ghost on the piano performing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” She discovers that her phone number belongs to Jin-hee, a missing adolescent whose two succeeding owners died unexpectedly under strange circumstances.
2- Satan’s Slaves, Indonesia
Release date: September 28, 2017 (Indonesia)
Director: Joko Anwar
Featured song: Kelam Malam
Producer: Gope T. Samtani
Box office: 16.2 million USD
Awards: Citra Award for Best Music Arranger, MORE
Why: I came across this movie after watching The Curse of Llorona- let me just say this asian horror movies is much better! The plot is nothing new but was well done. The siblings’ performances were realistic, and they portrayed a true spectrum of feelings from fear to strength—in short, they were believable, and I sympathised with them. The filmmaker did an excellent job of juxtaposing the family’s strength against the powers of evil.
The film’s pacing was just right—not too sluggish and not too full of jump scares. The frightening sequences were masterfully staged, with subliminal pictures and minor motions in the background adding to the sense of dread. In addition, the spooky music that played throughout the film was a perfect match for the film’s subject. I was reminded of something from the Conjuring world by the score. This is a must-see film. So add it to your to-do list and have fun!
Plot: Rini’s parents is impoverished financially, and she resides in an old cottage in the countryside near a graveyard with her father, her ailing mother, her crippled grandmother, and her brothers Tony, Bondi, and the silent six-year-old Ian. Their mum, a well-known singer, is dying of an unknown illness, and her father is unable to sustain the family.
As her mother passes away, her father has fly to the city to sell the property, and strange things occur there. Rini meets Hendra, the pious Ustadz’s son, and they find that her mother was infertile and joined a Satan-worshipping cult in order to have children. They would then take Ian with themselves once he is seven years old. Everything could they do to keep Ian safe?
1- Munafik, Malaysia
Release date: February 25, 2016 (Malaysia)
Director: Syamsul Yusof
Box office: RM 19.04 million
Budget: RM1.6 million
Production company: Skop Productions
Why: This is, without a doubt, one of the finest asian horror movies I’ve ever watched. I’m a horror junkie and a cinephile, and not to get me wrong: I absolutely adore The Conjuring, Ju-On, the Insidious trilogy, As Above, So Below, and The Exorcist. However there are a lot of fresh experiences in this film. You can see Syamsul Yusof, the director and performer of Munafik, putting up such a large amount of effort to frighten the audience.
It is not your normal horror film, which may be categorised into three categories: haunted home, exorcist, and visit to a haunted area. Munafik has an exorcism scene, although it isn’t the focus of the plot. Alternatively, the film follows Adam, a country doctor whose life is turned upside down after his wife is involved in a vehicle accident.
Plot: Adam, a traditional religious medical professional, and his wife were involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of his wife. Adam is struggling to cope with the death of his wife, which has shattered his strong religious beliefs, and he has also ceased assisting others in their cures since he believes he is useless at his work. He ultimately comes across Maria, who is depressed. After she is possessed by an evil spirit, Adam has no option but to assist her in healing.
Meanwhile, he discovers further evidence tying Maria to his wife’s death in a car accident. Well with aid of a friend, Adam attempts to repair Maria’s home. Maria’s spirit, however, seems to be too powerful, and his companion must quit saying his prayers in order to heal her. Maria’s spirit laughs at him and slams him against by the wall. Adam narrates his prayers and then exorcises the heart from Maria’s body, horrified by what is happening.
Conclusion: Please also check our blog on 20 Best Asian Action Movies .