Sunday, September 25, 2016

Meng gui jia ren (1989)

... aka: Chinese Ghost-core
... aka: Ghost Girl
... aka: Romantic Ghost Story, A

Directed by:
Wen Hua

Japanese tourist Lisa (Mai Hayami) is vacationing in Hong Kong when she's involved in a horrible car accident. She awakens on the beach and then is chased down by two jester-looking guys with dunce hats, fuzzy sticks and tongues so long they hang out of their mouths about a foot. She's captured and brought to a female “guard” who tells her she's arrived at the “Gate of Death.” Fortunately for her, a consultation with the “Book of Life and Death” reveals Lisa's name is nowhere to be found. (I guess because she's from out of town?!) Lisa is shown a huge cemetery that's the “World of the Ghosts” where everyone is treated equal and then the guard, whom she later refers to as her "Ghost Auntie," encourages her to head down to the city and have some fun. Meanwhile, the nightmare-plagued John (Denis Fan) has visions of Lisa's car accident and her going to hell all set to music from Charles Bernstein (stolen from A Nightmare on Elm Street). Afterward, he and his fast-living friend / co-worker Jim go to a sleazy, red-lit bar looking for “pussy” and watch a pair of Caucasian dancers in thongs (one male and one female) do some silly routine to an instrumental version of Blondie's 'Rapture.' What in the hell am I watching again?

John owns a studio. Jim is his photographer. Both work on what they call “figurative art,” which is what the rest of us would call naked, smutty pictures. When one of their models doesn't show up, the guys go to lunch and spot Lisa while they're out; little realizing that they'd already met her the night before when John accidentally pissed all over her head (!) in an alleyway. They give her their card and she calls the studio. John is instantly smitten with the mysterious Japanese beauty and would rather date her than put her in a magazine. Now without a model, Lisa promises to coerce their secretary Sue into doing it instead. Lisa uses her ghostly powers to make the conservative girl do a nekkid photo spread but when she finally sees the pictures she can't even remember posing for them. Figuring something sinister and otherworldly must be up, Sue consults a shady sorcerer / exorcist / drunkard and has him meet Lisa. After he determines the life line on her palm is broken, she scares him off by flashing her demon face at him.

The photography business isn't doing too well, so Lisa goes to her Ghost Auntie for help, gets her hands on some very valuable antiques and soon she and John have a room full of money to play around with. She also helps Jim out with his crush on Sue by taking possession of her and making her have sex with him. When Sue awakens, she starts punching him and accusing him of raping her. Back to the exorcist they go. This time he promises to “chase her back to hell” with his arsenal of weapons and magic trickery that includes a magic sword, a Buddha statue and dog's blood. In the meantime, he gives Sue about 500 spell papers to plaster all around her apartment.

Nothing really seems to work on Lisa since she's not technically crossed over to either heaven or hell yet and all anyone does to ward her off only accomplishes pissing her off further. After Jim and Sue ruin her relationship with John by revealing what she truly is, things only get worse when she decides she wants revenge. Ghost Auntie, who sometimes boasts a skull face but usually just looks like an old woman, helps by taking on the exorcist. She tricks him into drinking water that's actually serpent embryonic fluid and he proceeds to throw up a bunch of snakes. The wizard isn't up to much though and is easily taken out of commission with a red chain and a knife. Everyone else who tried to cock block our love-struck lady ghost also ends up paying for it, as well. It's all topped off with a lame and stupid “Was it real or just a nightmare?” type of ending.

Most HK ghost movies from this same time look stylish, have decent special effects and have a few scenes/moments that are memorably crazy. This one has none of that. It's filled with impenetrable night scenes, ragged editing, amateur acting and laughably cheap / shoddy fx and makeup. Since they clearly couldn't afford any visual or technical perks, they try to make up for that by displaying as much bare female flesh as possible. There's full frontal nudity from both lead females and each has their own nude modeling / photo session montage plus a soft core sex scene with the Jim character. Hayami, a pinku girl who had appeared in a half dozen or so rape / bondage / fetish soft core movies in Japan, was brought over to play her role. Other than her and the male lead, I did not recognize any of the other actors. Listed director Wen Hua also is a complete unknown. Either that or he's someone else using a fake name.

I found next to no information about this obscure title online. None of the major Hong Kong movie databases even list it and, though there's an IMDb page, it only lists the director, two actors and the alternate title of Chinese Ghost-core (an English translation of the Japanese title). It was made for the Hong Kong Man Wah Film Company, which does not appear to have released much else though I recognize the logo, has a 1988 copyright date, was theatrically released in February of 1989 and is classed as Cat III erotica. The copy floating around (taken from a Japanese VCD release) is in Cantonese with burnt-in English and Japanese subtitles.

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