Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Meng gui chu long (1983)

... aka: Maang Gwai Chut Lung
... aka: Possessed

Directed by:
David Lai

Royal Hong Kong Police officers Yuh Lung Hsiao (Gary Siu) and Ming Kung (Siu Ming Lau) are on patrol. Ming - who's older but definitely not wiser (and a drunk, to boot) pukes in a pickpocket's face and then forces his partner to chase after a speeder who almost runs him over. They end up out in the country at a house where a man is trying to attack his wife with a cleaver. After being punched and kicked repeatedly to no avail, it takes six bullets to finally put the guy out of commission. The wife, however, isn't all that thankful and curses at them for blowing away her hubby. Strange things begin happening soon after, especially to poor Hsiao, who already has a lot on him plate as is, including having to take care of his rebellious teenage sister (Irene Wan) because his parents are gone. Hsiao's entire apartment starts shaking and the furniture starts levitating, he's attacked by his closet when it detaches and tries to crush him, receives strange phone calls from an inhuman-sounding voice and witnesses the suicide of someone who appears to be possessed by a demon and leaps off a tall building. In addition to all that, Hsiao is suffering from hallucinations, including ripping off his own face.

Hsiao thinks he might be losing his mind. His girlfriend Sue (Chi-Shui Chan) suggests he take a leave of absence from work to cope with the stress but Hsiao passes and opts for prayer, offerings of roasted pig to the Gods and old school charms hung around his apartment to ward off the evil. The charms seem to work, at least temporarily. While he's away at work one day, Sue (who spent the night to take part in a sex scene) removes them to hang Korea posters and unleashes the evil again. She's slapped around by some unseen force, has her robe ripped off, is raped ENTITY-style on his bed, is strung up by her wrists and spits up greek goo. Hsiao rushes her to the hospital and, while he's away, his sister returns home and sneaks in her boyfriend. After some Pac Man and a little messin' round, the spirit returns to toss the sister around her room and bounce her off her box springs right into the ceiling fan, which kills her. After witnessing the incident, the boyfriend goes crazy.

Hsiao and Ming start investigating both the cleaver psycho they shot down and the guy who committed suicide and notice there's a connection between the two men. Both - along with one other guy who was executed - were charged for a murder during a burglary gone wrong. Who put them away? Why, none other that Hsiao's father, who's been locked away in a mental asylum for the past decade and has some secrets of his own when it comes to improper police interrogation techniques, not to mention accepting bribes. After a disjointed and almost aimless first hour - rife with "borrowings" from other horror film and few bright moments along the way - things finally pick up toward the end with a lively exorcism climax that partially redeems things. Included in this ten-minute-long sequence are the following goodies: a man being flogged by a chicken, a real life chicken being thrown into a pit of fire, a female midget swinging around a samurai sword, a man being tossed down the stairs where he's bitten by a cobra, a man being killed by having a cauldron full of hot oil dumped onto his head, a gigantic hand reaching out of a hole in the ceiling and strangling someone, a fish bowl getting stuck on someone's head, eyeballs popping out, a demon-monster, a flaming body leaping through a window and three cars exploding.

Like many other 80s Hong Kong films, this borrows liberally from many American horror movies popular at the time. In this case, ideas and even entire scenes are swiped from a variety of sources, such as the aforementioned ghost rape of The Entity, as well as the pulling-apart-your-own-face-in-front-of-bathroom-mirror sequence from POLTERGEIST. Speaking of Poltergeist, this film also totally rips off the Zelda Rubinstein character by having an eccentric, whiny-voiced little psychic lady who keeps talking about the "Four-face Buddha." There's also a car crash right out of one of the OMEN movies and other elements Xeroxed from other films.

Followed by the immediate, unrelated sequel POSSESSED II (1984). The Japanese company Fortune Star Entertainment released both films to DVD with optional English subtitles.


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