Monday, March 15, 2010

Five Hollywood Flops based on Asian Horror Flicks

We all remember The Ring and the irrational fear it gave us of soggy little girls crawling through our television screens. Based on the Japanese horror film Ringu, and made on a paltry $48 million budget, it raked in a tidy $249 million in revenue. With The Ring’s success, Hollywood realized they had a formula for success that they promptly began to squeeze for every last penny. What Hollywood forgot was that The Ring was successful due to its superb acting and its ability to creep us out with a nearly nil gore factor. The Asian horror market knows a thing or two about subtlety, patience, and good story telling. All things Hollywood lacks in buckets.

Let’s also define a “Flop,” here. “Flop,” being a word, and words being symbols for which we assign meanings, I’m defining a “Flop” as, “a movie making less than $50 million in profit and receiving a majority of negative over positive reviews.” For this reason, the Grudge (based on the Japanese Ju-on) will not be on this list. For, while it was negatively received, it also raked in $187 million in revenue, spawned a horrible sequel, and failed at making us afraid of half naked, meowing kids.

So, here are five Hollywood Flops as rated by Rotten Tomatoes and the Asian Horror movies they ripped off.

1. Dark Water (2005) based on Dark Water (Japan)

Rating: 46%

Budget: $30 million

Gross Revenue: $49 million

The original is directed by Hideo Nakata who also directed Ringu and its sequel. It again tries to make us afraid of a damp little girl, this time in a rain coat that dies in an apartment’s water tower. This is a movie that relies less on the terror of small children and more on the ineptitude of apartment maintenance.

The American remake follows closely its Japanese counterpart in plot about a troubled divorced mother moving into a rundown apartment building with her daughter. Creepy things happen making you wonder why they don’t just move like any sensible human being. The Japanese version is considered the scarier of the two though both are pretty tame. Dark Water doesn’t leave you with a lingering fear of baths and dripping ceilings, just mild irritation at handymen.

2. The Uninvited (2009) based on A Tale of Two Sisters (South Korea)

Rating: 32%

Budget: N/A

Gross Revenue: $40 million

A Tale of Two Sisters is easily one of the creepiest movies you will ever watch. The story is based on a popular South Korean folktale and follows two sisters, Su-Mi and Su-Yeong returning home after the mysterious death of their mother. You feel every ounce of tension in the house, every drop of malice between the sisters and step-mother, and the movie leave you with a lasting trepidation about furniture. Here is a ghost story at its very best, with a twist ending that will have you resetting your jaw after it drops to the floor.

The Uninvited in comparison attempts to fill in the massive plot holes and shoddy acting with pretty girls running around in their panties or bikinis. The ghost encounters are dry and the plot convoluted to the point of absurdity. While in the original the true horror laid in the warped family dynamics, in this movie the true horror lies in the fact they think you won’t see the twist ending a mile away.

3. Mirrors (2008) based on Into the Mirror (South Korea)

Rating: 15%

Budget: $35 million

Gross Revenue: $72 million

Mirrors made us question Kiefer Sutherland’s mental state. Not his character’s, his, for agreeing to be in this film. This movie relied heavily on the gore and the fact that mirrors just scare the crap out of us at night. Into the Mirrors, on the other hand, is an interesting psychological thriller that is slickly made with high creep factor. It stars Oldboy’s Yu Ji-Tae who makes for a more complex character than Sutherland. Sutherland’s character has a drinking problem, just like every other cop in Hollywood.

Into the Mirror works on vengeful ghost and the idea of mirror worlds. It’s the debut work of director Kim Sung-ho whose cinematic technique keeps you guessing and on your toes throughout the movie. Meanwhile, Mirrors goes the demonic route that is both bizarre and slightly insulting. Sutherland actually kidnaps and kills a Nun in this movie. I feel stupid just writing that, how do you put that in a script let alone film it? This movie lacks the substance for you to really care about the characters and their plight so you end up cataloging Sutherland’s increasingly weird facial expressions instead.

4. Shutter (2008) based on Shutter (Thailand)

Rating: 7%

Budget: $8 million (it shows)

Gross Revenue: $43 million

This movie is all about the wrong way to get out of a dysfunctional relationship. The American rendition takes the rough plot of the original and sets it in Japan. I don’t know why they did this as it seems a little insulting to the original Thai film. It makes you think the Hollywood producers don’t own a globe or any sense of cultural differences.

The film is thinly based on Ghost Photography, the idea of capturing spirits on film. The rest of the movie is predictable frights with bad gore and a wholly unnecessary ghost make out scene. In the end we find out this isn’t even a proper revenge tale but about a ghost with serious dependency issues. Then the dirty feeling sets in. So not are you cheated out of a good ghost story but you leave the theater looking at your significant other in a very wrong way.

5. One Missed Call (2008) based on Chakushin Ari (Japan)

Rating: 0%

Budget: $20 million

Gross Revenue: $45 million

Look at that again. One Missed Call didn’t receive a single Fresh review. It in fact takes Second on Rotten Tomatoes Worst of the Worst, rating just below 2002’s Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. It beats out both of the Larry the Cable Guy movies, that is how horrible this film is.

For starters, the entire movie looks like it was merchandized by Hot Topic. Everyone in this movie sleepwalks through their roles before getting in unimaginative and gore-tastic ways. Even the original Japanese version fails at making mobile phones scary because, well, it’s a mobile phone. The scariest thing you should get on those things is a heavy breather or a call for the IRS. So, for its ridiculous premise and one very boring ghost this movie goes down as the worse of the Asian remakes. Well, that and the zombie cuddle scene. Seriously, a zombie cuddle scene. Why, I ask you? WHY?!?

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