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Vietnamese Horror and Supernatural Films

Just saw a couple of horror movie trailers from Vietnam. One is Ham Tran’s Đoạt Hồn (Hollow) and the other from Victor Vu which is called Quả Tim Máu (Vengeful Heart).  Both films look great and feel pretty freaky, especially Hollow, which is about a little girl who is brought back to life by witchcraft, I think. Little girls in horror movies are always so scary. Here are a couple more films that are as creepy.

Mười: The Legend of a Portrait –this is a straight Korean horror movie like The Tale of Two Sisters.

Oan Hồn (Spirits) – a film on three ghost stories. Sort of like Kwaidan. Not so much horror but it’s really creepy and atmospheric.

Ngôi Nhà Trong Hẻm (House in the Valley) – the 1st Vietnamese film widely distributed in the USA.

Chung cư (The Building or L'lmmeuble) – Horror film by Viet Linh with political undertone.


Phạm Công – Cúc Hoa (The tale of Pham Cong Cuc Hoa) – A low budget ‘instant noodle” film on the fairy tale of lovers , Phạm Công and Cúc Hoa along with their ill fated children. It’s not a horror film but has supernatural elements, especially the part where a man can grow back his own head after it’s been chopped off.

Con ma nhà họ Hứa – An important 1973 horror film by Le Hoang Hoa about a girl with leprosy.


Vietnamese culture has an inseparable relationship with the supernatural due to large part of the population being Buddhists. I think the reason that we have been so superstitious is because we are poor. When you don’t have a lot of resources to anchor your life what do you rely on? Religion and dead ancestors.

When I was little, the scariest place for me was Buddhist temples. They were dark and eerie. The sound of a monk chanting and hitting a wooden fish with a mallet gave me goose bumps. I remember getting lost inside one of those temples and the giant statues scared the shit out of me.  True horror for me is the unknown and that unknown is attributed to darkness. It was in the late 80s. The village hadn’t gotten electricity yet. So there were lots of mysterious nooks and crannies around town. We didn’t talk much about the giant bamboo shrubs in our neighbor’s backyard that was rumored to be an execution site of the Viet Cong. One night, someone frantically knocked on my door. My mom woke up and it was our neighbor. He was pale and breathed heavily. He said his bike got a flat tire and he was just walking pass the bamboo shrub and saw a man with no face. So he ran and left his bike there. The next morning we went to recover the bike near the bamboo shrub and found both of its tires were shredded. Maybe someone cut the tires or maybe my neighbor was drunk and hallucinated. Another time one of my brothers had to do housekeeping for a temple of a monk. He said he woke up in the middle of the night and saw a group of little children climbing pillars in the temple. It was just unexplained. I’m still scared at those stuffs. The supernatural world is not rational, logical, and it’s beyond human comprehension. The same is with movies. I get scared at films that are unexplained; such has the Japanese film The Suicide Club or the Australian great film Picnic At Hanging Rock.  The unsolved mystery is what scares me the most.

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