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New KBS horror series fails to frighten

2008/08/06 | Permalink | Source

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There is nothing like a bit of hair-raising horror to chill a hot summer night. KBS' latest series "Korean Ghost Stories" - a spin-off of the cult classic of the same name - promised to bring audiences a bit of bone-chilling relief from the heat. But it looks like the new series may disappoint.

The poor special effects, sets and costumes fail to take this beloved series to the next level. "Korean Ghost Stories" - which first hit living rooms in 1977 via KBS and continued to strike fear into the hearts of audiences through 1999 - has not changed much following its nine-year hiatus.

In keeping with tradition, a total of eight tales will start airing tonight. The first episode pays homage to 1997, when "Nine-Tailed Fox" kicked off a series of 26 tales in July.

The revamped version of the eponymous tale, however, falls short of today's standards. Now, with computer graphics and other equally snazzy special effects, it takes a lot more than a little bit of fake blood and cat eyes to raise a few goose bumps.

Unfortunately, the preview, which showcased clips of tonight's "Nine-Tailed Fox" and several other episodes, featured less-than-realistic special effects and equally passe scripting.

"Nine-Tailed Fox" cast member Kim Tae-ho, however, found filming on set a scary experience.

"Is this real or a dream? Watching them film was very scary", said Kim at the press conference last week. "I really felt like something was going to jump out at me".

Whatever scared Kim didn't translate well on film. The preview of "Nine-Tailed Fox" felt like a B-level period piece desperately trying to look chic.

While "Nine-Tailed Fox" heroine Park Min-young stated that this version was a modern interpretation of the original, it is difficult to see where the 21st century comes into play.

And the same goes for the other episodes previewed at the press conference.

What the 21st century version of "Korean Ghost Stories" needs is revamped effects and scripting. Even the 2006 film version of "Korean Ghost Stories", titled "Evil Twin", is more frightening than the upcoming TV series.

Ironically, actor Jae Hee, who starred in "Evil Twin", will be playing the hero in the fifth episode.

The cast includes veteran actors Choi Soo-jong and Lee Duk-hwa, along with singer-turned-actor Lee Jung and former Fin.K.L vocalist Lee Jin.

With a respectable cast and a rich history, however, "Korean Ghost Stories" is sure to attract some die-hard fans. And its adherence to classic storylines and to good old Korean-style spooks will give the younger generation a glimpse into the past.

"Korean Ghost Stories" airs Wednesday and Thursday nights on KBS 2 TV at 9:55 p.m.

By Jean Oh

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