It had to happen eventually. It’s been at the top of every Korean film buff’s most-wanted DVD release for longer than we can all remember. They’ve been working on polishing up the print and subtitles for rather too long. Versions of the film have been available at film festivals for a while – we saw it at the Korean Film Festival at the Barbican last year.
Finally, in August, Kim Ki-young’s classic film Housemaid (하녀) becomes available on DVD. Here’s the blurb from YesAsia:
Widely considered one of the best Korean films of all time, the 1960 black and white classic The Housemaid is finally available on DVD! Known for his psychodramas and sexual horror films, Kim Ki Young made The Housemaid in the early years of a career that would see him continuously pushing the boundaries of cinema. This domestic noir about sexual obsession and a family’s dreadful unraveling shocks and thrills even half a century later. The Housemaid stars Lee Eun Shim as the eponymous femme fatale, and Kim Jin Kyu and Ju Jeung Ryu – two of the greatest stars from the Golden Age of Korean Cinema – as the married couple who self-destruct under her will. Acclaimed actor Ahn Sung Ki, only eight years old at the time, also appears in the film. Great efforts were taken by the Korean Film Archive and World Cinema Foundation to digitally restore and remaster The Housemaid, unveiling this great masterpiece to film fans worldwide.
Middle-aged composer Dong Sik (Kim Jin Kyu) has his hands full trying to provide for his pregnant wife (Ju Jeung Ryu) and two kids. He hires a housemaid (Lee Eun Shim) to help out around the house, but the strange and sultry young woman has other plans in mind as she sets out to seduce Dong Sik. Tragedy begets tragedy, as wife and mistress face off in increasingly manipulative and horrifying manners for power over the household and their clueless lover.
This release comes with commentary by Bong Joon Ho and film critic Kim Young Jin, plus pre- and post-restoration image comparisons.
Kim Ki-young revisited the Housemaid story eleven and twenty-two years later with the film Woman of Fire (화녀) and Woman of Fire ’82 (화녀 ’82). The later of the two remakes has also just been issued on DVD
Known for his psychodramas and sexual horror films, late Korean master director Kim Ki Young remade his own 1960 classic The Housemaid in 1982. Like its predecessor, Hwanyeo ’82 (a.k.a. The Woman of Fire ’82) is a shocking domestic tale of seduction, jealousy, sexual obsession, and murder. Set on a poultry farm, Hwanyeo ’82 lays the tragic demise of a seemingly normal family when a middle-aged composer with a pregnant wife is seduced by his newly hired femme fatale maid. Wife and mistress face off in increasingly manipulative and horrifying manners that result in appalling violence and tragedy.