Korean Horror Cinema

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As the first detailed English-language book on the subject, Korean Horror Cinema introduces the cultural specificity of the genre to an international audience, from the iconic monsters of gothic horror, such as the wonhon (vengeful female ghost) and the gumiho (shapeshifting fox), to the avenging killers of Oldboy and Death Bell. Beginning in the 1960s with The Housemaid, it traces a path through the history of Korean horror, offering new interpretations of classic films, demarcating the shifting patterns of production and consumption across the decades, and introducing readers to films rarely seen and discussed outside of Korea. It explores the importance of folklore and myth on horror film narratives, the impact of political and social change upon the genre, and accounts for the transnational triumph of some of Korea’s contemporary horror films. While covering some of the most successful recent films such as Thirst, A Tale of Two Sisters, and Phone, the collection also explores the obscure, the arcane and the little-known outside Korea, including detailed analyses of The Devil’s Stairway, Woman’s Wail and The Fox With Nine Tails. Its exploration and definition of the canon makes it an engaging and essential read for students and scholars in horror film studies and Korean Studies alike.

Table of contents

PART I Classic Korean Horror
1 Family, death and the wonhon in four films of the 1960s
2 Creepy liver-eating fox ladies: The Thousand Year Old Fox and Korea’s Gumiho
3 War-horror and anti-Communism: from Piagol to Rainy Days
4 Mother’s Grudge and Woman’s Wail: the monster-mother and Korean horror film
PART II Contemporary ‘Domestic’ Horror
5 Heritage of horrors: reclaiming the female ghost in Shadows in the Palace
6 Acacia and adoption anxiety in Korean horror cinema
7 Apartment horror: Sorum and Possessed
8 The face(s) of Korean horror film: toward a cinematic physiognomy of affective extremes
9 Death Bell and high-school horror
PART III Contemporary ‘International’ Horror
10 Between the local and the global: ‘Asian Horror’ in Ahn Byung-ki’s Phone and Bunshinsaba
11 Diary of a lost girl: Victoriana, intertextuality and A Tale of Two Sisters
12 From A Tale of Two Sisters to The Uninvited: a tale of two texts
13 Oldboy goes to Bollywood: Zinda and the transnational appropriation of South Korean ‘extreme’ cinema
14 Park Chan-wook’s Thirst: body, guilt and exsanguination

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