Pure Evil! The 10 scariest new wave horror movies

Pure Evil! The 10 scariest new wave horror movies

"Oldboy," "Ringu," "Audition" and others that will have you pulling the stuffing out of your teddy bear

A giant bag, filled with something ominous, suddenly jerks. A woman with matted hair crawls toward the screen, lifting her head at the last moment to reveal her decomposing face. This is the new wave of Asian horror, a twisted mishmash of plot and ultra-stylish visuals that leave you thoroughly spooked. Don’t watch these 10 scariest new wave Asian horror movies alone.

10. "Ju-On" (Japan, 2000)

Ju-On

Directed by Takashi Shimizu

A murdered woman leaves a grudge that haunts a Japanese apartment and everyone who passes through it. Ju-On’s three sequences are non-linear and barely connected, and none are neatly resolved. The discontinuity gets under your skin and sets you off-balance -- and that’s when the psychological horror seeps in. For God's sake, watch out for the blue ghoul boy!

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: Rika finds a closet covered with duct tape. And you just know she's going to open it.

9. "Rampo Noir" (Japan, 2005)

Rampo Noir

Directed by Akio Jissoji

Four shorts based on stories by the Japanese master of disturbia, Edogawa Rampo. You’ll be torn between watching the gorgeous cinematography and hiding your eyes from the barefaced sadism, the mirror torture and the crawling bugs.

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: A limbless man lives in isolation with his perverse wife. She picks up a knife and slices off a sensitive area … very sensitive.

8. "Ringu" (Japan, 1998)

Ringu

Directed by Hideo Nakata

Two teens recount an urban legend: Anyone who watches a disturbing videotape receives a phone call and dies in seven days. One becomes uncomfortable -- she confesses she had the exact experience a week ago. Cue creaky music and flickering lights. The "Ringu" concept is irresistible and the film is a fright-fest, all the way up to the nihilistic ending.

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: Many viewers cite the moment when Sadako crawls out of the TV. But the big gulps come with the eerie crunching sound effects and quick cuts to photos of the accursed teens, their faces blurred and distorted.

7. "Shutter" (Thailand, 2004)

Shutter

Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom

A Bangkok couple mows down a girl with their car and flees the scene. Her ghost troubles them in dreams and leaves her presence in photographs. Then the man admits he used to date the dead girl and his current girlfriend uncovers distressing evidence about their past relationship.

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: A Polaroid photo develops, revealing something -- or someone -- on the man.

6. "Save the Green Planet!" (South Korea, 2003)

Save the Green Planet!

Directed by Joon-Hwan Jang

Lee is convinced his former boss is an alien, so he kidnaps him, straps him to a chair and tortures away. When a detective arrives on the scene, the cat-and-mouse games grow darker and more demented. You can’t help but cheer for the madman and his devoted circus-performer girlfriend, even as they commit increasingly grisly acts.

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: The tycoon’s hands are nailed to a board. Slowly, he tries to extricate himself.

5. "The Eye" (Hong Kong, 2002)

The Eye

Directed by Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang

A young blind woman receives a cornea transplant that restores her sight. But along with this new pair of eyes comes the ability to see ghosts -- not all of whom are friendly. Who was her donor? What is he or she concealing? Did he or she have a bad case of near-sightedness?

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: A long-haired scepter comes rushing toward the heroine. Your screams drown out most of the rest.

4. "Dumplings" (Hong Kong, 2004)

Dumplings

Directed by Fruit Chan

Real-life nutter Bai Ling is perfectly cast as a woman who makes 'special dumplings' that restore an aging star’s youth. The customer becomes hooked, even after she learns which macabre ingredient gives the dumplings potency. Soon, she’ll go to extreme lengths to get her dumpling fix.

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: Bai Ling, already frightening in her Hong Kong hotpants, bursts into a gleeful rendition of Chinese opera -- with arm movements. The horror!

3. "Odishon/Audition" (Japan, 1999)

Odishon / Audition

Directed by Takashi Miike

The movie begins like a romantic comedy: A man 'auditions' for a wife and falls for a former ballerina. But the exposition grows creepy when we learn she has an untraceable past. Why does she live in a bare room with a burlap sack that lurches when the phone rings? The woman’s grotesque acts of vengeance -- which cut between reality, remembrance and dream -- caused some early viewers to collapse in shock.

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: The ex-dancer sing-songs “Deeper, deeper, deeper” as she inserts needles into flesh. Then she picks up a piano wire and happily announces, “This will cut bone and flesh easily.”

2. "A Tale of Two Sisters" (South Korea, 2003)

A Tale of Two Sisters

Directed by Ji-woon Kim

Two teenage sisters move into a Gothic country house with their family. One girl overprotects her weaker sister from the stepmother’s violent mood swings, while their father remains oddly impassive. The filmmaker hints at a dark secret or supernatural force in the house -- then drops a bomb that makes you re-evaluate everything, and keeps the disorienting twists coming all the way to the end.

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: A (still living?) body in a bag, leaving a trail of blood as it’s dragged.

1. "Oldboy" (South Korea, 2003)

Oldboy

Directed by Chan-wook Park

Oh Dae-su is locked up for 15 years with no explanation. One day, he’s released and teams up with a female sushi chef to get bloody vengeance. But his mystery tormentor still looms and reveals his cards in clever moments, making the truth behind the story far more soul-crushing than his violent acts of revenge.

Hide-behind-your-pillow moment: You think that the torture is going to end, but you only watch as more salt gets ground deeper into the wound.

La Carmina writes about Harajuku pop culture and all things spooky-cute. She is the author of three books about Japanese pop culture and food, including "Cute Yummy Time" and "Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo" -- for which she did all the photos and illustrations. Both books were released in October, accompanied by a U.S. major city book tour.

For more, please visit her website.

Read more about La Carmina