Saturday, November 27, 2010

Women's Rage in Three Countries (삼국여한) (1982)

 In this great entry from 1980’s horror master director Kim In-soo (Festival of Fear, Public Cemetery of Grudges), we can anticipate excitement with the storytelling. First of all, this is a movie that is presented in 3 segments, a bit like Creepshow which came out at about the same period. Although directed by a Korean, this film tells the stories of 3 women/ghosts who are eager for revenge in 3 Asian countries, Korea, China and Japan. I must say that the first 2 stories were quite conventional technically and reminded me very much of the 60’s horror style because of their strong colors, long shadows, low key light etc. As for the last segment (Japan) it is perhaps to most gripping of all 3, it has great elements of fear and even some odd grand guignol effects such as a bloody severed head flying around or a traditional female ghost figure fighting against a samurai, all this with very tight action editing.
 The first part happens in Korea during the Chosun Dynasty. After getting married to her very young groom (a child), Ok-nyeo is on the road with her husband when suddenly attacked by a group of bandits who kill the young groom. Ok-nyeo is then kidnapped and rape by the men. Later she awakes in a cave where the bandits brought her to Choi Wang-ryol who really likes her, but when he tries to have sex with her she kill herself by biting off her tongue. Afraid, Choi Wang-ryol escapes but first he dumps Ok-nyeo’s body in the stream nearby the cave then, her vengeful soul is out for blood.
 The second part takes place in China where a wealthy man orders his servant to bring some girls to his house. He then choose one of them to have sex with but he suddenly start to experience some strange manifestations of a female ghost. That ghost was a woman he once killed but she is now reappearing whenever Mr. Wang wants to abuse a woman. In the final part, the story is set in feudal Japan.
 A young man poisons his wife after making an evil plan with his mistress. Just when they thought their new love life was going well, the wife comes back as a ghost with a terrible grudge. Usually that type of omnibus focuses on horror and suspense but instead, Kim In-soo injects his little stories with lurid sensual scenes. This makes the viewer shift from fear to desire and vice-versa, changing the tone is a very common thing in Korean cinema. The whole is quite interesting and even sometimes very surprising as I mentioned but unfortunately, the movie loses steam during the second story due to some overacting comedic scenes.
 I would recommend this one only for the final of the third episode since it’s something you see very rarely in Korean cinema (the flying severed heads). Finally, let’s not forget to mention the original use of cool eerie bloody visual effects mixed with a soundtrack that brings together traditional score and atmospheric synthesize


Kim In-soo
Park Am
Chung Kyoo-young
Hwang Kun