A blatant throwback to the Asian ghost horror from over a decade ago, each of the two Tales from the Dark anthologies from 2013 features three supernatural tales by veteran horror directors. While they’re fun enough for nostalgia, if you were there for the original explosion of Asian horror films, you won’t be all that impressed by this highly derivative experience.
TALES FROM THE DARK 1
1st story – It’s white-faced Asian ghost overload from the start in this one. The main character is a very weird fellow living in a tiny place where he talks to dolls and does the “Gangham Style” dance. He also can’t hold down a job. So he begins to steal urns from a mausoleum and demands ransom from loved ones. Naturally, a ghost of one of the deceased won’t take this indignity lying down. The main character is too weird and unlikable for us to feel for him, odd ghosts appear everywhere before he even thinks of breaking into the mausoleum, and we are bombarded by musical sting scares, so we quickly become numb to any sense of fear.
2nd story –A fortune-teller and his spiritualist neighbor work together as a paranormal team to help a couple being terrorized by the ghost of a schoolgirl. This is a fun and funny episode that could easily be a TV show featuring the comic ghost-hunting duo working on a different paranormal case each week.
3rd story – This one is perfect for cheap thrills. It’s like an homage to the ghost girl genre (The Ring, The Grudge, etc.) combined with visually over-the-top Final Destination kills. A woman that helps clients put revenge curses on people who have wronged them is visited by a ghost girl looking for revenge on the people behind her death. What follows are good old gory kills, plus there’s a twist.
TALES FROM THE DARK 2
1st story – This one is odd and trippy. After a (very pretty) couple has a fight, the boyfriend disappears, causing the girlfriend to suffer from insomnia. So she purchases a medical pillow that not only lets her get some sleep, but also gives her nasty dreams about her boyfriend forcing himself on her sexually. As twists are presented, the story becomes a bit confusing, so by the end it’s hard to determine what was real and what wasn’t. But those vacuum seal bags you can get at Walmart are put to a very unique use.
2nd story – This is old school ghostly fun, as a bunch of kids plays a hide and seek game in an empty school at night, where they are terrorized by child ghosts that come out of a mural on a wall. There’s even a Sadako in-joke for Ringu fans.
3rd story – One of my favorites, this one has a genuine horror zinger ending like a Tales from the Darkside or Tales from the Crypt episode. The lives of a flawless do-gooder and a prostitute cross with some gore-ific results. This has the kind of final scene that would have been permanently burned in my brain if this film had been around when I was a kid.