Suddenly in the Dark – South Korea, 1981 – overview and reviews

 
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Suddenly in the Dark – original title: Gipeun bam gabjagi – is a 1981 South Korean supernatural horror feature film directed by Go Yeong-nam [Young Nam Ko] from a screenplay by Sam-yuk Yoon. It stars Il-bong Yun, Yeong-ae Kim and Ki-seon Lee.

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Press release:

“This amazing, almost unknown film is full of uncomfortable sexuality, cheap visual effects, creepy dolls, shamanism, butterflies, and murder – all set to a searing, original synth score!

Contrary to some popular belief, Korean horror didn’t start in the late 90s, it had been a staple genre in that country for many decades prior, with the early 1980s being a particularly rich period. Unfortunately, these films remain almost completely unknown outside of the ROK. Just the sort of challenge we love! Suddenly in the Dark is one of the very best pre-millennial K-Horrors: genuinely frightening and utterly bizarre.

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Plot:

A woman’s idyllic middle-class life is disrupted when her husband brings home a beautiful young orphan to be their maid. At first she welcomes the pretty girl, in fact seems oddly fixated on her, but soon comes to suspect the girl of having an affair with her husband.

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At the same time odd, unexplained incidents – most involving the maid’s mysterious wooden doll – began to make her question her own sanity. Soon it all spirals out of control as the film climaxes in a fever pitch of sexual jealousy, murder, and supernatural vengeance, all set to a pounding synth score.

Almost completely unknown outside of its home country, Suddenly in the Dark is one of the best examples of pre-millennial K-horror. It was made at a time when censorship law were being liberalized, igniting a boom in both horror and erotic films. Elements of both are present here, directed with bizarre flair by Go Yeong-nam in a style often compared to the wilder Italian films of the 70s and 80s.

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Mondo Macabro is proud to present this classic of Korean horror on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world. Our presentation has been restored from the best available elements from the Korean Film Archive, and features brand new extras produced exclusively for this release.”

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

  • Interview with producer Suh Byung-gi
  • Interview with critic Kim Bong-seok on the history of Korean horror films
  • Classic K-Horror VHS Cover Art Gallery
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Mondo Macabro Promo Reel
  • Limited edition booklet with brand new essays on the film by Grady Hendrix and Christopher Koenig
  • New Cover Illustration by artist Naomi Butterfield

Reviews [click links to read more]:

What sets this offering apart is the style and flare with which it was made. The film is shot beautifully with a number of interesting camera angles that you don’t always see. It’s a movie that takes full advantage of being a movie. Every striking visually image is set to a wonderful synth-heavy score.” Bloody Disgusting

“The cinematography, art direction, music score and editing are all excellent and there’s great use made of color, overlapping images and exterior frame blurs (what I like to call the “Vaseline-smeared-lens effect”). But where this really differentiates itself is in its liberal use of kaleidoscopic effects.” The Bloody Pit of Horror

“Prolific director Go Yeong-nam really pulls out all the stops here with super saturated colorful lighting, eye-popping kaleidoscope effects, and other visual tricks to constantly keep you guessing whether what you’re seeing is really happening. This kind of reality tease can be annoying or tiresome in the wrong hands, but here it’s utterly entertaining as it speeds to a crazed dark stormy night finale that caps off with an unoriginal but nicely executed twist ending.” Mondo Digital

“Director Ko — Korea’s most prolific director ever with 111 films to his credit — has a good feel for how to create tension from precise editing and the patient accumulation of evocative details. Actress Kim Young-ae also gives a convincing performance as the panicked wife. Her fears seem plausible, which makes the film all that much more effective.” Darcy’s Korean Film Page

“Director Go Yeong-nam isn’t afraid to try all manner of camera trickery here, utilizing kaleidoscopic effects and all sorts of weird camera angles to bring this psychologically tense picture to vivid life. There’s great use of light and shadow here as well, and some genuinely striking imagery is present throughout the picture. Add to that a genuinely interesting and frequently bizarre score and some slick, tight editing work and you wind up with a picture that is tense, well-paced and a treat for the eyes.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!

“After a few twists and turns, some more obvious than others, Suddenly in Dark Night launches itself into a feverish finale that is terrifying and teeming with memorable imagery. Trapping us in a house that we have become intimately familiar with during the story, Ko combines mysticism, psychosis and a cacophonous storm to stellar effect.” Pierce Conran, Screen Anarchy

Watch trailer on Vimeo

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