It’s no secret that Hollywood pines for those Beijing bucks. As of 2020, it’s the largest film market in the world and saw the highest grossing film of 2021, “The Battle at Lake Changjin.” The war movie made over 900 million in China alone! That’s some BIG Beijing bucks. Unfortunately, the film is a piece of CCP propaganda. Unlike America, where propaganda is encouraged in our war movies but certainly not required, Chinese filmmakers have no such luxury. (If you could even call it that.)
They have to abide by the standards set by the CCP and cannot stray from them. This has made the market largely difficult for foreign films to be granted access. (at least not without a throwing a bone to the CCP like Iron Man 3 did.) But even domestic filmmakers have trouble working within these regulations.
No genre suffers more from this than horror. There can be NO supernatural elements in any Chinese films as they might encourage superstition. Horror films in China have to walk a fine line and this has led to some interesting compromises.
“No, that wasn’t a ghost. That was swamp gas causing you to see all that!”
“No, that’s not an undead witch. That’s just an actress hired to pretend to be an undead witch for some Scooby Doo inspired real estate fraud!”
These are just a couple of examples of how filmmakers in China circumvent or work within the perimeters set for them. It’s undeniably a bit clunky, but it’s charming to see how the genre of horror lives on in China’s repressive media ecosystem. The video above dives deep into the nitty gritty of the genre of C-Horror and how it continues to this day.