Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Door to the Flesh (육체의 문) (1981)

Not a bad thriller with an early appearance by actress Kim Hae-sook (The Headless Murderess / Thirst). Once again, a good tryout at the suspense genre featuring an innocent couple able to outsmart the police investigation, all this in a vivid color spectrum background giving it a surreal touch, perhaps the Korean answer to the Argento/DePalma style of the late 70’s. However, the story got somehow confusing until the very end which wasn’t much convincing and left some holes in the plot. Let’s not forget to mention the surprise ending, which was a trend at the time since Brian DePalma’s Carrie, but here it was a bit unnecessary.
Here we are dealing with one of the few Korean slasher movies, our protagonist are mid-twenties young girls on the verge of marriage, which is quite a contrast with their American counterpart who are usually teenagers on the lookout for parties and sex. Kim Hae-suk and her friends quit their factory jobs after discussing and head up for the big city hoping for a better life. Here again we have an opposite situation with the typical American slashers, the group arrive in a big city (Seoul) instead of going to the countryside. So, after living a few months in the city they all enjoy their happy life and start dating men. But the abundance and easy way of the city life is soon going to punish them for their arrogance. Later, one of the girls get married with a strange man. During their honeymoon, the couple have an argument and the husband who then become angry kill his wife and then commit suicide. From there, the police investigate on similar murders that start to happen among that group of girls. Here, murders are shown in the tradition of slasher films with all the false scares and sudden attacks from behind, the killer reveal to be the specter of the same man who commited suicide, he now stalks the other women to get revenge on “them” and also kills whoever is in the way. Later, Hae-suk and her boyfriend go to the morgue to check on the bodies of the victims and the killer, they notice that the corpse of the killer is missing. The vengeful specter of the killer starts chasing Hae-suk and her boyfriend in the laboratory building for the final showdown. At the end, Hae-suk’s boyfriend is in the shower and suddenly starts talking to the camera and say a very out of place but funny warning: “Women, if you are no treating your men with respect, the same thing might happen to you!”.
The Door to the Flesh possess something innovative among Korean films with its daring approach to the psycho thriller genre mixed with an equally researched soundtrack. Speaking of soundtrack, there are some particular sound-effects which turned out to be well mixed in the atmosphere as we can hear an echo of girls screaming whenever there is a scary or sudden moment. Overall, The Door to the Flesh as more to offer for the murder and mystery fan with a bit of horror rather than a supernatural thriller like the VHS cover suggest.
Yugche-ui mun

Lee Ki-hwan
Kim Ae-sook
Kim Seong-geun
LJang Il-sik


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