|Starring||Matt Chow, Eric Kot, Power Chan, Hanna Chan|
Hands up, who loves campy 80’s and 90’s Hong Kong horror films?
And I mean the campy ones, not the super scary ones. Because this movie is a clever and unexpected homage to golden campy age of Hong Kong horror cinema, for example, the Shaw Brothers type stuff.
And I thought this movie was a bit of fun.
What’s this movie about?
A quartet of young movie prop creators are talked into setting up a haunted house style business by a movie producer in order to fund a future production and use the house as the set of the movie.
The location of the haunted house is an old movie set that was destroyed in a fire after an actor in a clown costume burnt himself and an actress alive after she rejected him.
After setting up the house and opening it to the public, the ghost of the dead actress begins to appear, turning the haunted house into an instant success. But she has a story to tell about her death, and eventually one night she gets to tell it, and the truth about how her and clown died in the studio fire is revealed.
My Thoughts on this Movie
I’m playing my cards early in this review, because quite frankly, I really enjoyed this film.
There is a lot of charm buried within, and is a nice surprise for anyone with a passing interest in the good old fashioned Hong Kong comedy horrors.
I really loved the characters, from the dodgy typical-Hong Kong style movie producer, to the quartet, the guilt riddled old actor and the two ghosts. Pierre especially, I couldn’t help but think of Michael Hui’s character Ah Hui from Chicken and Duck Talk, one of my favourite Hong Kong comedy movies.
Pierre is the ultimate Scrooge: withholding payments, doing dodgy deals, fabricating stories but yet he always seems to come through for the quartet at the right times, for the right price.
Going down the traditional Hong Kong horror route means we end up with a general low-budget production, but I never felt at any time that made the end product suffer. In fact, with its deliberate campy nature, the low budget aesthetic of the film isn’t even really that noticeable.
The ghost make-up looks pretty decent, and the CGI particle effects for ash are a nice touch, as is the CGI used for things like when the ghost touches the box with the spell on it. In the 80’s they would have added that effect to the negative, but now we get it as CGI. Although the effects aren’t always there, as you can see in a long shot thats devoid of the particles and smoke.
I found the story to be fun to follow as well. There’s a little bit of a whodunnit style mystery here, and although it’s quite obvious what the ending is going to be, the journey to get there is enjoyable.
And that’s made that way with the humour. A very Hong Kong style humour. From sight gags that actually work, to jokes within the dialogue that hit the mark, I found myself laughing along more times that I thought I would.
I love old Hong Kong horror comedies movies, and I love listening to the Cantonese language. And with solid entertaining performances, an easy-to-follow mystery type storyline and a classic cameo or two from some familiar faces, and I think this was a winner of a film.
This is definitely not going to be the type of movie for everyone. Hong Kong comedy horrors are an acquired taste, but if you haven’t acquired that taste yet and are looking for an easy entry into the genre, then you can easily start with this.
It’s a thumbs up from me. Any movie, regardless of genre or language, that can solidly entertain me for its whole time is worthy of a thumbs up, and this movie delivers.
If you’ve seen it, what did you think?