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Archive for April 25th, 2014

Phobia 2 (2009)

phobia 2 poster

Phobia 2 is a five tale anthology horror movie from Thailand. The tales are:

NOVICE – a young delinquent teen called Pey is taken to a quiet rural Buddhist monastery by his mother as he has committed a crime – he likes throwing rocks at car windshields resulting in accidents. Her hope is he will stay out of trouble in the monks’ care and he can’t be arrested by the authorities. However, Pey isn’t happy with having his head shaved off and taking part in training. The head monk realises he is out of control and soon Pey is up to his neck in trouble after disturbing the Hungry Ghost festival.

WARD – Arthit is a young man who finds himself in hospital after injuring his leg. In the bed next to him is a dying cult leader who seems to be immobile and in a coma. Arthit is convinced that the man is playing dead and comes alive at night to terrorise him in his bed.

BACKPACKERS – A couple of young Japanese travellers in Thailand hail a lift from a passing truck. The driver and the man accompanying him seem a little bit shifty to the travellers. On their journey there is a loud noise emanating from the back of the truck. The truck pulls over and the driver opens the door to the back. It is full of dead bodies. They are taken out and put on the ground. Then something strange happens and the bodies start twitching and come back alive as bloodthirsty zombies who go on a rampage.

SALVAGE – Set in a car salesroom, the female boss Nuch finds her young son has gone missing in the huge car lot after playing there. Is it something to do with the fact that she has neglected to tell any of her clients that all the cars in her showroom have been fixed after being in deadly accidents?

THE END – An actress who is taken ill on a shoot dies at hospital but returns as a ghost to finish her scenes.

Thai horror movies have been on the up in the past couple of years and this is a very good sequel to the 2008 anthology series which increases the stories from 4 to 5 short terror tales. It was a big hit in cinemas across the country. Each offers something completely different from the others. Anthology movies are notorious for being a bit hit and miss but in this movie all of the 5 stories are great though some are definitely stronger than others. Several of the stories are linked to karma in that if you do something bad it will return twice-fold to haunt you. The first story (Novice) is a great example of this. All 5 stories have been stylishly shot and the stories are well crafted.

Phobia 2 screenshot

My favourite out of the 5 stories is without a doubt the 3rd one (Backpackers). It’s such a tense, bloody and action packed story. You just have an inkling that the driver of the truck who is edgy is hiding something in the back of the truck but you don’t expect to witness the gruesome cargo after being unloaded to come back to life. If you enjoyed zombie horrors like 28 Days Later that gives you an idea of what this story is all about. The 4 people try and escape from the rampaging onslaught of the zombies that are baying for their blood. The makeup, gore, sound effects and just the general feel of the story is brilliant. It’s a hell of a shame that this story wasn’t expanded, I would have loved to have seen a full length movie of it.

I also particularly enjoyed the last story (The End) as it is more of a humourous tale than outright horror. You will probably recognise the characters in this segment   –  they played campers in the first Phobia movie but this time they are members of a film crew. I did find myself laughing several times during the story. It’s a story which mocks the horror genre and of another Thai horror movie (Alone) that the ghost actress Marsha Wattanpanich took part in. She plays a parody version of the character she portrayed in it. I’ve yet to see Alone but I’m sure I’ll check it out in the future.
I would say the 4th story (Salvage) is the weakest of the lot but it’s still a fine story with a good deal of suspense and scares. It does outstay it’s welcome a little bit and has an unlikeable character in the lead role.

There isn’t much that you won’t like in this horror movie. It’s got everything that makes a good frightfest – bloodthirsty zombies, vengeful ghosts, gore and some good scares. Each story is creative and unique. All in all a worthy anthology movie to check out.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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prison on fire dvd

Yiu is sent to prison for 3 years for accidentally pushing a man in front of a bus as he was attacking his father. He is totally unprepared for the harsh reality of prison life and is targeted by some of the other inmates. Whilst working in the Infirmary, Yiu meets up with the wise cracking Ching who takes him under his wing after he realises that unless he helps him out Yiu won’t survive in prison for long. When a gang leader sets Yiu up for a fall thanks to his association with a corrupt prison warden, maybe even Ching won’t be able to save Yiu from the wrath of the other prisoners.

A pulsating prison drama from talented HK director Ringo Lam as part of his ‘On Fire’ trilogy (City On Fire/School On Fire) which shows a harrowing look into the bleak and brutal prison system in Hong Kong and how much power the triads have on the inside. It follows a man who slowly adjusts to life in the slammer after he meets a sympathetic inmate who takes pity on him. It also depicts the violence that takes place. All the things you associate with a gritty prison movie are here from riots, corrupt officials etc. The first part of the movie is what you would call a slow burner with not much action happening but plenty of character development. To some this might be boring but it’s all enjoyable stuff by Lam. However it is in the second part that everything kicks off and gets noticeably darker.

prison on fire screenshot

As Yiu is not a part of a gang and a bit naïve he is made to be a scapegoat by a power struggle between two factions. It’s great seeing the friendship between Yiu and Ching develop as the storyline takes place over the course of several years – they’re a good contrast to each other. Apart from the evil warden, the other chief villain of the story is a prisoner called Mickey who becomes a thorn in the side of our two friends. He is transferred to another prison after he attacks Ching with a piece of glass and things get better for Yiu and Ching. However, one year later with things having settled down, the two are shocked when they discover Mickey is back in their prison and hasn’t forgotten about the issues he has with them. He sets the pair up leading to their lives being in danger. The story builds up to it’s conclusion very well indeed in that you can see that tension is growing and that something will eventually give and it does.

Chow Yun-Fat is brilliant in this movie and gives it his all as Ching, the prisoner with a carefree attitude but who knows exactly the prison politics that are taking place. What I loved about Chow Yun-Fat’s portrayal of Ching was he changes somewhat from when the viewer first sees him. His playfulness is transformed into blind rage by the end as he has been pushed to the limit and it all explodes in an orgy of violence. Ringo Lam knows how to get a good performance out of Chow Yun-Fat. They’ve collaborated in several movies over the years. Tony Leung also pulls in a fine performance as the vulnerable Yiu. You really feel for him when he attempts to kill himself. Roy Cheung plays the vicious warden who kills several inmates by whacking them across their heads with his truncheon.

This is an excellent movie by Ringo Lam and is definitely one of his best. Coupled with the outstanding performances by the cast, for HK movie fans this is a must-see movie. Don’t miss it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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