Malaysian Filmmaker James Lee Launches YouTube Omnibus '3 Doors of Horrors'

Doghouse 73
Director Edmund Yeo's "Floating Sun" tells the story of a female novelist who is haunted by the image of drowned corpse.

The prolific producer-director says he developed the digital short film project to give voice to emerging local filmmakers and experiment with online distribution.

A new YouTube-based short film project is gearing up to give Asian horror film fans a scare during the Hungry Ghost Festival holiday celebrated later this month in Malaysia and Chinese-speaking countries.

Developed and produced by prolific Malaysian director-producer James Lee, the digital anthology 3 Doors of Horror will feature short films directed by three emerging Malaysian filmmakers: Leroy Low (I Miss You Two), Edmund Yeo (Floating Sun) and Ng Ken Kin (Horror Mission).

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The omnibus premieres on YouTube on Aug. 17, the first day of the Hungry Ghost holiday, a popular period for the release of ghost and horror films in the region. Often likened in the West to something like the “Chinese Halloween,” the holiday marks the period when the ghosts of ancestors are traditionally believed to pay visit to the living. 

Lee said he developed the project with the goal of introducing local audiences to a new generation of vibrant young filmmakers who hadn’t yet been given a voice in the local industry.

“Any industry gets stagnant if there are no new works by new blood,” Lee said.

Leroy Low is best known in the Malaysian scene for music videos he has directed for popular local artists such as Vchuan, PinkTan, Kit Teo and Ke Qing. His I Miss You Two stars actor Wong Jen Khai in a ghost story set in a secondary school.

Yeo’s Floating Sun is touted as a high-concept surrealistic horror thriller about a female novelist who is haunted by a vision of a drowned corpse. Yeo was the youngest Malaysian director ever selected for competition in the shorts section at the Venice Film Festival with his film Kingyo in 2009. His Inhalation won the Sonje Award for the best Asian short film at the Busan International Film Festival in 2010.

Ng, meanwhile, is a regular in the Malaysian TV industry. His installment in the series, Horror Mission, tells the story of a intern on a film shoot tasked with attending to a possessed actress.

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The project is backed by Lee’s independent production outfit Doghouse 73. The series will also be screened at Singapore’s Gluttony Nights Festival on Aug 23 and 24, as well as at Malaysia’s Pangkor Island Arts Festival in September.

“If the response to the short films is encouraging, then the 3 Doors of Horrors will be an annual project that we'll use to introduce more new local directors working in the genre,” Lee said.

Lee, whose breakout My Beautiful Washing Machine won the best Asean feature award at the Bangkok International Film Festival in 2005, is currently developing a manga-inspired action-comedy project called After School Complex, which he hopes to finance via a crowd funding platform. “Crowd funding is still very new to us in this region,” he said. “It will be an experiment.”

"The landscape of traditional cinema production and distribution models is changing rapidly -- with YouTube and countless VOD services," he added. "I'm just trying to explore the possibility of making films in as cost effective manner as possible, where the filmmaker has the most creative and marketing control." 

Lee’s latest independent feature, If It’s Not Now Then When?, premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in 2012.

Watch the trailer for Three Doors of Horror below: