Asian Horror: The Factors Driving Thai And Japanese Horror Film Industry: An Analysis Towards Ringu (1998) And Shutter (2004)

Wong , Siew Peng and Azizul Rahman , Mahfudz (2014) Asian Horror: The Factors Driving Thai And Japanese Horror Film Industry: An Analysis Towards Ringu (1998) And Shutter (2004). In: 1st International Conference on Creative Media, Design & Technology (REKA) 2014, 25-27 November, 2014, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.

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This paper discusses theoretically on the factors driving the Thai & Japanese horror film industry. The appeal of horror films from these countries is due to the uniqueness of their culture, religious beliefs, as well as socio-political circumstances that helped shaping the film industry. Horror films resonate with cinemagoers in the sense that they connect with an individual‟s subconscious yet fundamental need to deal with the things or issues that frighten him or her. Derry (2009) stated, in the way they work upon the audience, films act as dreams while horror films are the nightmares. Kellner (1995) also stated that horror films unearth the “hopes and fears that contest dominant hegemonic and hierarchical relations of power” through the portrayal of both significant dreams and nightmares of a culture and that the culture is attempting to channel them to sustain its current copulations of power and domination. However, Asian countries possess their own unique set of traditions and superstition, urban legends, as well as religious beliefs that are fundamental elements of their national identities such as Buddhism in Thailand & Shintoism in Japan. Teo (2013) credits the global interest in Thai films to the filmmakers‟ ability to present horror as a combination of natural and supernatural force. Besides that, the popularity of the genre in the country is also partly rooted in the Buddhist belief of reincarnation. According to Lee (2011), horror films in Asia also act as representations of the local citizens‟ anxieties about the undesirable shifts their countries were struggling in the late 1990s due to a near-crippling financial crisis. As a result, millions of people in the region were destitute, unemployment rates tripled in some countries, salaries declined as low as 40%, deteriorating health throughout the region, reported cases of child labour, prostitution, as well as domestic violence dramatically heightened (Aslanbeigui & Summerfield, 2000). Lee (2011) also stated that, socio-political events in Thailand such as large-scale unemployment rates and the domestic people's dissatisfaction with their government sprouted as a result of the Democrats' failure to revive the economy (Lewis, 2003) paved the way for the horror film industry. The Thai nationalism was concretized as anti-foreign feelings and resentment of potential foreign takeovers (expedited by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s policies) of Thai businesses. Meanwhile in Japan, although the three major distributors (Toho, Toei, and Shochiku) were hit by a string of box office disappointments, the number of domestic releases grew during the late 1990s due to the increasing number of mini-theatres, which began screening independent Japanese films. Thus, unlike the decline of mainstream film industry, independent filmmaking was prospering at that time (Lee, 2011). The growing world of independent filmmaking was filled with provocative talents from young directors whose previous careers were in the fields of advertising, television and music videos. The young directors were tired of the constraints inherent within traditional genre films, usually produced by the major productions, and wanted to explore various other genres, mainly the horror genre. As for the result, the second part of the paper explores the comparison between Thailand and Japan‟s most celebrated horror directors and their most critically acclaimed feature films. One of the directors discussed in the essay is Japan‟s Hideo Nakata who led the international J-horror boom with Ringu (1998). As for Thailand, the film that will be analysed is Shutter (2004), directed by Bangjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom. Lastly, this paper will concludes with the effectiveness the factors analysed in the first part of the essay in today‟s horror film industry. While the horror films of the 1990s and early 2000s were manifestations of the socio-political events in both countries at that time, the question is whether Thai and Japanese horror film industry is declining, improving, or stagnant

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Pusat Pengajian Seni (School of the Arts) > International Conference on Creative Media, Design & Technology (REKA)
Koleksi Penganjuran Persidangan (Conference Collection) > International Conference on Creative Media, Design & Technology (REKA)
Depositing User: HJ Hazwani Jamaluddin
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2018 07:21
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2018 07:21

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