23 February 2016

WHISPERING CORRIDORS/MEMENTO MORI- A DOUBLE BILL OF KOREAN HORROR REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.


WHISPERING CORRIDORS AND MEMENTO MORI- A TERRIFYING DOUBLE BILL OF KOREAN HORROR BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WHISPERING CORRIDORS. 1998. A TARTAN ASIA EXTREME FILM. DIRECTED BY PARK KI-HYUNG. WRITTEN BY PARK KI-HYUNG AND IN JEONG-OK. STARRING LEE MI-YEON, KIM KYU-REE AND CHOI SE-YEON.

MEMENTO MORI. 1999. A TARTAN ASIA EXTREME FILM. DIRECTED BY TAE-YONG KIM AND KYU-DONG MIN. SCREENPLAY BY TAE-YONG KIM. STARRING YEH-JIN PARK, YOUNG JIN-LEE AND MIN-SUN KIM.

In the late 1990's, the series of Korean horror films all set in and around a girls' high school saw the light of day. The series is known as WHISPERING CORRIDORS (a great name, considering the setting!) and it is comprised of five films, the first of which is WHISPERING CORRIDORS itself.

The other four films are called MEMENTO MORI (1999), WISHING STAIRS (2003), VOICE (2005) and my personal favourite, A BLOOD PLEDGE (2009). This last film has a great gripping plot and an ending that'll have you in floods of tears.

As a woman, I thoroughly enjoyed this series of films. They're full of the bitchiness, bullying and general hormonal nonsense I remember from my years at secondary school. They tackle all the tough issues too, like teen suicide (the films are chock-full of those, believe me!) and teenage pregnancy and forbidden love and academic/peer pressures and what you.

These are such feminine films that I'm not sure exactly what the appeal would be for guys. There aren't any car chases or explosions in 'em, after all. If you're a guy and you can bear to watch a bunch of beautiful actresses dressed as schoolgirls prancing around the place for a couple of hours getting into all kinds of scrapes and shenanigans and stuff, then you might just be all right. I can't really imagine any men wanting to do that though, can you...? Yes, I'm being ironic, heh-heh-heh.

WHISPERING CORRIDORS is a good long film, as indeed all five of them are. You really get your money's worth. The story concerns a new young student teacher coming to the school. She's actually been a student at this very school so things feel kind of weird for her there, as you can imagine.

It comes out bit by bit that this young student teacher had a best friend when she attended the school. A mean horrible teacher called Mrs. Park did her best to separate the pair, however, and generally made the friend's life a bit of a misery.

Now young Miss Hur, the student teacher, is back at her alma mater and the odious Miss Park is found hanging from a deserted walkway round the side of the school, stone-dead and covered in blood. What the hell gives? Who could possibly have it in for the nastiest teacher in the school, or did the old bat simply top herself? Throw in Miss Hur's blossoming friendships with two very different schoolgirls and you've got yourself a doozy of a dilly of a pickle...

MEMENTO MORI is another good long watch, so you'll need to clear your diary for almost two hours. It's about two schoolgirls who have a love affair with each other that they have to keep secret, naturally, for fear of bitchiness and ridicule from the other girls in the school.

One of the pair (the sporty one!) keeps blowing hot and cold, however, and the other one feels shut out and lonely. When one of the girls is found dead from an apparent suicide, speculation is rife as to her personal life. It seems that Lonely Spice had a dark secret. Will it all come out in the wash? If it does, there's at least one teacher who'll be straight down that Job Centre looking for a new place of employment...

Also, one of her classmates is in possession of the two lovers' shared diary. Will it reveal the reason for Lonely Spice's death? Will it incriminate Sporty Spice? Or will it just open up a Pandora's Box of a can of worms that would have been better left alone? You'll find out...

This film has some interesting cinematography in it, along with some stunningly beautiful choral music and an absolutely perfect but heartrending scene in which the tiny little school tortoise tries to escape a stampede. 

I have to say that both films can be quite confusing at times due to the fact that the girls all look so alike. It's sometimes hard to keep track of who's doing what to whom and why, especially in view of the fact that there are a few red herrings thrown in for good measure.

The schools in both films, especially in WHISPERING CORRIDORS, are good and spooky. They remind me of my old school. I went to a convent school (yay, go Catholic girls!) and parts of the school, especially the nuns' and the boarders' quarters, were actually quite creepy, and not just after dark, either.

There were rumours that our school was haunted by a deceased nun, as well, who was supposed to wander around the school grounds willy-nilly. There were so many sightings of her...! Ah well. Every convent school has its very own ghostly nun. Sure, they're practically part of the furniture.

There's something I have to warn you guys about if you're going to watch either of these films. The male teachers in both schools treat their young female pupils with a level of violence that literally had me goggling at the screen with my eyes out on stalks.

We see grown men walloping young schoolgirls across the face, knocking them to the ground and kicking them (albeit with slippers on their feet, but still...!) and hitting them on the head with books. It's pretty uncomfortable to watch. What am I saying, it was downright horrible. The sight of a grown man beating up a teenage girl in his care is appalling.

I'm not trying to bring in any social commentary here but I'd hate to think that schoolgirls were ever really treated so badly in Korean schools. They're just kids, for God's sakes, skinny little mixed-up kids with their hormones running riot. They need love and attention, not to have the living daylights battered out of them by teachers who seem drunk on their own power. If you don't think you can handle these disturbing scenes, well, you've been warned...

Speaking of unscrupulous teachers, a teacher in one of the films, but I won't tell you which film, gets one of his students pregnant. His name is Mr. Goh. If I may go out on a truly tasteless joke, I'd just like to say that it certainly looks like Mr. Goh managed to come, heh-heh-heh. If you know what I mean...

     AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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