Monday, June 22, 2015

Ge shi gui jian qing (1987)

... aka: Chinese Ghost Love
... aka: Gak sai gwai gan ching
... aka: Ghost's Lover
... aka: Jie tai sheng gui

Directed by:
Chuan Yang (Richard Yeung Kuen)

Man-yu Chao (Zhenzhen Li) suffers from bad recurring nightmares. She also suffers from a terrible marriage to John (Lo Yuen), an uncaring, sex-crazed jerk of a husband who works as a doctor at a clinic, clearly puts his own needs above hers and refuses to have children. Because of her frequent nightmares, Man-yu suspects her apartment is haunted. Rather conveniently, living right next door are Ho Te (Kwan Hoi-San) and his nephew Ho Ning, Ghostbusters-inspired experts in the supernatural who have all kinds of special transmitters, lasers, electrodes, computers and gadgets they use in their research. Man-yu is planning a trip to Seoul for a few days and leaves the neighbors the keys so they can come and go and do their investigations as they please. Maria (Ma Lai-Lee), the Chao's beautiful new live-in Filipino maid will also be around and becomes the infatuation of the younger of the two paranormal experts. Doctor Chao, on the other hand, decides to cancel the Seoul trip so he can have an affair with a nymphomaniac / hypochondriac patient of his named Tina, who he's just treated for V.D. (!) When he shows up at her apartment for their tryst, she refers to him as a “sex maniac” and then proceeds to rip off his pants with a fencing sword. Tina keeps him so busy over the next few days that he doesn't bother going back home.

Meanwhile in Seoul, Man-yu and her lesbian friend June, who decided to accompany her on the trip to fill in for the husband, go to a disco. June hooks up with a young woman (who turns out to be a scam artist) and leaves Man-yu. She's hassled by a gigolo and then finally finds herself ordering a Bloody Mary for an intense-looking guy sitting at the bar, whom she wrongly assumes is also a gigolo. He says “I suck blood.” She still asks him to escort her back to her hotel, which he does and is a complete gentleman about. The next day, June bails on sightseeing to hang out with her new girlfriend, leaving Man-yu alone in an unfamiliar country once again. She bumps into the stranger from the disco - who eventually reveals himself to be Wei Chou (Chen-Chung Tang) - and the two start hanging out. He gives her the grand tour of the city, showing her all the best museums, zoos and restaurants, and she finds herself drawn to him. Phone calls back to her home reveal that her husband hasn't even been there since she's been gone. Frustrated, she decides to go ahead and have her own little fling. Unfortunately for her, whatever happens in Seoul doesn't stay in Seoul.

After Man-yu returns to Hong Kong, she's taken by surprise when her husband reveals he now wants to start a family. Her guilt over her own affair doesn't last too long after she walks into John's office one day and catches him in the middle of screwing Tina. Tina, who proves to be rather Fatal Attraction-ish, starts referring to John as HER husband and threatens to kill Man-yu if she doesn't leave them alone. Despite claiming he couldn't possibly get a travel visa to come to Hong Kong, Wei shows up there just in time to comfort Man-yu. The two continue their romance, she falls in love, files for divorce and then discovers she's pregnant with Wei's baby. But Wei isn't quite what he appears. He's actually a ghost; one who has no issue resorting to violence in order to protect his child because he will be reborn in its body. Wei electrocutes Tina to death for threatening Man-yu and then gets really nasty when he learns his lover is planning to get an abortion. Can the ghost busters next door help her get this clingy spirit out of her life for good?

I'd love to one day make a comprehensive list of ghost movies produced in Hong Kong during the 80s as I'm frequently uncovering ones I'd never even heard of until I find them. Venturing a guess, I'd say there's somewhere between 150 to 200 of these; most of which are completely unknown to audiences outside of Asia. Ghost's Lover, like many of this type, defies any one genre classification. It has elements of fantasy, comedy, drama, romance, action, mystery and horror; with the latter only being a truly pronounced part of the plot during the final half hour or so. It seems somewhat cheaper than many others of this ilk and a lot of the melodrama is a bit soap opera-esque and schmaltzy, but the characters are fairly well-defined, the performances are acceptable, it's very funny at times, the ending is surprisingly grim and the whole thing is pretty entertaining and charming; albeit overly talky. One thing it is decidedly not is scary. If you don't go in expecting that, this is a pleasant enough diversion.

Sometimes erroneously listed as a 1984 release, Ghost's Lover was actually released in Hong Kong in May of 1987. The VHS version I watched had burnt-in English subtitles (which are filled with spelling errors, sometimes alter the character names and are often cut right off on the sides) and was from Sunny Video. This version appears to be edited and there are numerous abrupt cuts in picture and sound any time there threatens to be nudity, which is pretty often. The director is best known for the crazy Seeding of a Ghost (1983).


Beiß mich, Liebling (1970)

... aka: Amor de vampiro (Vampire Love)
... aka: Amourous Adventures of a Young Postman, The
... aka: Beiss mich, Liebling!
... aka: Bite Me, Darling
... aka: Love Vampire, The
... aka: Love, Vampire Style

Directed by:
“Anthony Baker” (Helmut Förnbacher)

This long-forgotten and seldom-viewed West German vampire sexy comedy (originally titled Beiß mich, Liebling, or Bite Me, Darling) opens with some cute, talking, blue animated cartoon bats and a theme song that invites us to “Come get some vampire love.” Why? Well, cause “It makes your head jingle, baby” and “It's so exciting when those teeth are biting you-ou.” I'll take their word for it. The bats – Stanley and Ollie – then introduce two characters who will be somewhat important to the film we're about to see. The first is sex-obsessed psychiatrist Dr. Hartlieb von der Wies (Patrick Jordan), who runs an “institute for frustrated females” in the small village of Stumpfenhabbenvergaugenusseldorf, Germany and also happens to be a descendant of Count Dracula. The other is handsome mail carrier Peter Busch (Amadeus August), who “...really delivers something special to the ladies.” After these two introductions are done, the two bats see a statue of a crucified, bleeding Jesus (!) and fly away in terror. But don't you fear, these little guys will be back to comment on the action from time to time.

We first follow around middle-aged mailman Herr Engelmann (Herbert Fux) on his winter bicycle rounds as he encounters various kooky townspeople (like a flaming gay caricature who essentially tries to rape any man he comes into contact with and a senile old woman who thinks garden gnomes are her children) and faces a few hazards of the job, like barking / biting dogs and a bunch of little kids who pummel him with snowballs and let the air out of his tires. The brats then string a rope across two poles, trip him and cause him to break his leg. He's taken to a hospital and then the younger, much-better-looking and amazingly virile Peter takes over his mail route and proves to be far more popular with the ladies. Luckily for Peter, this town is filled with unsatisfied housewives and free-spirited young beauties who all proceed to throw themselves at him like he's the last man on Earth. Sucks being such a stud, doesn't it?

Among Peter's many satisfied customers are Dr. Stein (Brigitte Skay), a dentist who suffers from an uncontrollable sexual urge to inflict pain upon her male patients, and Frau Brenner (Wera Frydtberg), a wealthy, unhappily-married housewife who's first seen throwing an egg at her obnoxious husband's face after he calls her mother (who was rumored to have castrated her father) an “old dyke.” Since the oft-absent hubby (Franz Esser) is paying their busty young maid Rosi (Barbara Valentin) for sex on the side, his wife certainly has no issue inviting Peter in for tea and cookies... in her bedroom. She also offers him a job but according to a ruling made 800 years earlier by the Archbishop of Salzberg, the Busch family cannot work any job aside from mail carrier. Peter doesn't seem to really care though and then takes up an offer from sisters Christine (Hansi Linder) and Bernadette (Gudrun Herms) to join them for dinner and “a special surprise dessert with two helpings”

As all of this is going on during the first hour it's pretty easy to forget there's even a vampire in the mix. And Dr. von der Wies isn't even a vampire in traditional form at first. In fact, he's managed to make it to middle age and beyond without even realizing he's a vampire and does not suffer from any real vampire traits - like a craving for blood - right away. When fangs miraculously sprout, he goes to see Dr. Stein, who temporarily sands them down. In the meanwhile, Dr. von der Wies is working on a research paper about how one's line of work may influence their sex lives. Thus, he becomes very interested in Peter, who's been spreading love around the neighborhood and cheering all of the ladies up to the point where they no longer even need traditional therapy.

The psychiatrist soon gets pissed because his therapy business is now failing. When his niece Sabrina (Eva Renzi) falls in love with the new postman and informs him “I must have Busch!,” the doctor then sets out to kill him. After unsuccessful attempts to knock Peter off with a boomerang, by tampering with a bridge and setting a vicious dog loose, he ends up accidentally poisoning himself, dies and is then buried. Peter marries Sabrina and takes over the family business; curing patients the only way he knows how (by having sex with them). He then starts having dreams of a bloodsucking demon feeding off of him at night, which turn out to be real-life feedings from a resurrected Dr. von der Wies, who's been crawling out of his grave at night, sneaking into Peter's bedroom and drinking his blood. The newlyweds then enlist the aid of a crazy-haired old priest (Frederick Pressel) to fight the vampire off with a crucifix, garlic and a wooden stake.

As you can probably tell from my write-up, this wacky comedy is completely aimless, all over the place and doesn't even really become a horror-comedy until the final 20 minutes. The humor is pretty dumb most of the time, but at least it's fast-paced, upbeat and pleasantly stupid. The inclusion of the cartoon bats at various times and how they're integrated into the live action film is also a nice touch. Despite being a European sex comedy from the anything-goes early 70s, there is surprisingly very little actual nudity and no soft-core sex. The soundtrack features two original songs from Richard St. John (formerly of the pop duo Dick and Dee Dee, who had a Billboard #2 hit with “The Mountain's High” in 1961) and his wife, Sandy St. John.

Though never released here in America, an English-dubbed version was released in the UK under the title The Amorous Adventures of a Young Postman. That version – released by the label Intervision Video in 1981 on the long-defunct Betamax format – is just shy of being 80 minutes long and, needless to say, is extremely difficult to find these days. There may have been other English releases that I'm not aware of, including under the title Love, Vampire Style, which I found a poster for but no release info on. A lobby card from Mexico reveals it received a theatrical release there at some point under the title Amor de vampiro. The full German-language version is said to run about five minutes longer than the English one. There was also (supposedly) a 102 minute version that included hardcore sex inserts.

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