Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This review was previously published on this blog in 2008.

Adultery. Suicide. Murder. Insanity. Drug addiction. Severed arms. Severed Heads. Impaled eye sockets. Acid facials. Attempted infanticide. To name a few.

Sure, it all sounds like the grocery list for some lurid Category III thriller from Hong Kong, or a par-for-the-course exercise in J-horror.

But it's not.

Welcome to Korea, 1967.

The film is A PUBLIC CEMETERY OF WOL-HA, a contemporary-set chiller about a conniving housemaid who keeps her wealthy matron in perpetual sickness in the hopes that her eventual death will free up a little space in her husband's love life...and bank account. While the victim takes the eternal yawn by her own hand, and in abject sorrow and humiliation as befits only the most beautiful Korean tragediennes, payback begins in earnest for her tormentors (and yes, there's more than one!) when her ghost returns home to settle up the bill.

There's some remarkably effective imagery here on what appears to be a modest budget (jazzed up with enough cheap-scare violin shrieks to make then-WKU student John Carpenter proud). One might easily draw visual links to similar Japanese films of the period, but on the basis of this, my first foray into old-school K-horror, I'm tempted to think the Korean shock film industry was vogueing to it's own gruesome beat, one that still reverberates in many of the country's unique modern shockers.

Regardless, Michael Carreras would most definitely have been impressed.

Click through to YouTube via any of the above videos for more clips from this and other amazing (and often rare!) Asian Cinema!

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