When people think of East Asian horror, movies like Ring and Ju-on: The Grudge no doubt spring to mind. Many countries in this large continent look to their respective folklore when making horror, which is why there are so many Asian movies featuring the likes of yūrei, the kumiho, and many other kinds of hungry ghosts.
Modern Asian horror is no longer just scary female ghosts haunting your electronics, though. In a bid to modernize the genre and explore new horizons, Asian filmmakers looked to one popular Western sub-genre for inspiration: slashers. So, lock your doors and stay close to a phone because we're going to delve into ten Asian slashers you should watch.
10 Scared (2005)
During a road trip, a bus full of high school students must cross a ramshackle bridge in the forest. The structure is unable to support the bus so everyone on board falls into the river below. As the survivors trek through the forest to get help, they are pursued by unseen, homicidal maniacs.
One sizable trend in mid-aughts horror was disdainfully referred to as "Gorno" or "Torture Porn," with the prime examples being Saw and Hostel. This movement celebrated visceral violence and sadism. East Asia definitely picked up on the trend too, as evidenced by this Thai backwoods slasher.
9 Black Rat (2010)
Six classmates are terrified when they each receive a letter from a student who committed suicide. The letters tell the recipients to go to their school alone after hours. There, they are all hunted down by an armed assailant wearing the head of a rat costume.
Horror has always been a genre rife with people righting wrongs in the most convoluted and threatening ways, and the Japanese slasher Black Rat is no exception. Director Kenta Fukasaku adapts a timeworn formula while adding some unique touches like martial arts and a nod to local folklore.
8 The Debutantes (2017)
As a group of popular high school girls are on the cusp of 18, an outcast named Kate has what seems like prophetic dreams about them. That they're all going to die soon, and only Kate can save them.
Audiences get a glimpse of a Filipino debut — a traditional coming-of-age celebration for girls turning 18-years old — in this supernatural slasher. It can be best described as Mean Girls meets Final Destination, yet the end result is far more serious in tone than either of those muses. Nevertheless, the movie is redeemed by solid visuals, capable performances, and a sinister-looking demon.
7 The Record (2000)
At a cabin, a group of high school students plays a prank on a classmate that ends with him dying. Rather than going to the police, the guilty party discards the body and keeps what happened that night a dark secret between them. Using recorded footage of the ordeal, someone privy to the incident terrorizes the victim's killers. Has he returned from the dead, or is someone acting on his behalf?
This South Korean slasher's similarities to Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer are flagrant. Unoriginality notwithstanding, it's an entertaining whodunnit with some tense chase sequences.
6 Sssshhh... (2003)
At the center of a series of college campus murders is a student named Mahek, who has been receiving threatening phone calls from a stranger. Soon, she and others fall prey to a killer wearing a clown mask.
The success of Scream urged India to create a few worthwhile knockoffs. So long as you don't mind the running times — usually clocking over two hours — and various musical numbers. Yes, this is Bollywood so every movie regardless of genre is bound to have some song and dance sequences. Sssshhh... will feel familiar, but it's repackaged enough to feel almost brand-new.
5 Macabre (2009)
Friends on the road meet a woman claiming to have been robbed, so they give her a ride home. As a token of her gratitude, the stranger serves them dinner. The night soon takes a deadly turn as the guests fight for their survival.
Macabre goes by Rumah Dara in its native country of Indonesia, and it's based on a short film by the same directors (Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel). The grindhouse-style movie might possibly be one of the bloodiest slashers to come out of Asia. Its violence is so great the film was banned in Malaysia.
4 Bloody Reunion (2006)
A teacher's former students gather at her house for a reunion. With her being ill, the guests reflect on how terribly the teacher treated her pupils back then. The night quickly evolves from awkward dinner conversations to murder. But who's behind these grisly deaths?
Also known as To Sir With Love, this South Korean movie largely resembles Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None. It toys with the viewers in so many ways before inevitably pulling the rug out from under them. Come for the ample bloodletting, stay for the twist ending.
3 Dream Home (2010)
Lai-Sheung is a disturbed woman who's taking care of her sick grandfather and her younger brother. She desperately wants to own an apartment with a seaside view. However, the rising real estate prices in Hong Kong make her dream almost impossible. That is until she finds an effective way to lower the sellers' property values.
Dream Home has a lot to say about Hong Kong's economic problems. It also gives us a startling character study of someone at her wit's end. What the protagonist is doing obviously isn't justified, but viewers also shouldn't feel badly for sympathizing with her situation.
2 Evil Dead Trap (1988)
When a television host receives what looks to be a snuff tape, she and her crew visit the abandoned factory where the video was shot. It's during their investigation that they're killed off systematically by a mysterious assailant.
As popular as imported slashers were in Japan at one point, the country wasn't producing too many of its own. And before the J-Horror boom that followed Hideo Nakata's Ring, the genre was struggling. The success of the controversial Guinea Pig films likely led to Evil Dead Trap. It's a beautifully nasty gem that banks on its first two glorious acts.
1 Perfect Blue (1997)
When one member of a pop music trio leaves to be an actor, one of her most devoted fans retaliates. Now, the line between what's real and what's not becomes dangerously blurred.
Though the 1997 animated adaptation of Yoshikazu Takeuchi's novel is different from its source material, the late Satoshi Kon's interpretation is a bona fide treat for psycho-thriller enthusiasts. The ambitious project overcame production troubles as well as highlighted the very real problem of celebrity stalkers. Perfect Blue is a David Lynchian anime with influences from both gialli and slashers. It's totally cerebral in the best ways possible.