Friday, March 8, 2019

Zhong gui (1983)

... aka: 種鬼
... aka: Chung gwai
... aka: Seeding of a Ghost

Directed by:
Yang Chuan (Richard Yeung Kuen)

While out driving late one night, taxi driver Tang Zhou (Phillip Ko) accidentally runs into a man (Yee Muk Kwan San) fleeing a cemetery after getting caught grave robbing. That man, who turns out to be a sorcerer, seems to vanish into thin immediately after being hit but later materializes in the back of Tang's cab. There, he informs him that since he interrupted a black magic ceremony he will be cursed with bad luck and there's really not a damn thing he can do about it. If he's lucky he'll merely get really sick. Otherwise, his family will die. Not paying him much mind, Tang returns to his life and then a series of strange misfortunes befall him. His pretty wife Irene (Maria Yuen - NIGHT OF BURNING FLESH), who works as a blackjack dealer at a casino, is courted by wealthy playboy Anthony Fang Ming (Norman Chu), who starts out seducing her with money and jewelry. Anthony also happens to be married, but that doesn't stop either of them and they're soon sneaking around behind their spouses backs having a passionate affair.

Irene starts sexually rejecting Tang and then demands Anthony divorce his wife so they can be together. He refuses, which leads to a fight and her jumping out of his car late one night. He takes off and she calls her husband to pick her up from a phone booth. Before he can arrive, two young creeps - Peter (Hsin Nan Hung) and Paul (Ling-Chi Fu) - chase her into an abandoned building, where she's stripped, beaten, raped and, finally, knocked off the roof onto some spikes. The two men flee just as Tang, who's been lured to the building by a call the dispatcher later claims she never made, is pulling in. He gets a flat and, while trying to change it, his spare tire miraculously rolls off on its own and right to Irene's body. Naturally, he's going to have a hell of a time trying to explain to the police how he ended up there in the first place, not to mention how he found his wife's body.

Tang becomes the primary suspect in his wife's murder, though both Anthony and the thugs find themselves being dragged to the station for questioning and investigated as well. After physical altercations with both the two punks (who try to kill him) and Anthony (whom he tries to kill with a baseball bat), a now-crippled Tang gets desperate and goes to the black magician. He's first told there's nothing that can be done as it's his destiny but when he returns demanding help and threatening to blackmail the sorcerer for stealing bones, he finally gets what's asking for. However, he's first warned that using black magic for revenge has a very good chance of costing him his own life.

They exhume Irene's grave and then the sorcerer casts a "seeding a ghost" spell that will awaken her spirit . Soon, both Anthony and Irene's rapists / killers are finding themselves in a world of hurt that starts with puking up worms and turning a meal of coconut milk and rice into blood and brains. Another spell causes every glass, bottle, pan and pot to overfill with water and a toilet to overflow and then explode. Anthony's oblivious, gambling addict wife Kit (Kar-Man Wai) becomes possessed and rams a giant matchstick up his ass (!) They must call in a Taoist (Hung Tse) to help, who strips her naked, rubs her body with an egg and then places a charm sword over her body. But the hold is so powerful, he's forced to go get a Master Taoist (Man-Biu Bak) and more priests to help. This leads to a black magic duel that includes spell papers, fireballs and swirling purple mist and eventually frees Kit from the vengeful spirit's grasp. At least for the time being.

Meanwhile, Peter and Paul go to see female shaman who wears a swastika headband (?!) She's promptly possessed by Irene, who inhabits her body long enough to destroy the woman's entire house and relay a cryptic message. Soon after, Paul's possessed sister throws him off the roof to his death after stripping and attempting to seduce him. Then it's on to Peter, whose spinal column pops out of his back while he's in the middle of having sex. He's then pulled to the sorcerer's home where he dies, Irene's corpse levitates and spins, Peter's spirit is sucked out of his body and the corpse and ghost have sex. Tang must then feed his wife's corpse his own blood so a child can be conceived. What he may not realize is that it's going to be born through Kit and that the "baby" is going to be a fast-growing, fanged monster with tentacles!

While this doesn't quite hit the high standard set by the similar Shaw Brothers black magic films BEWITCHED (1981) and THE BOXER'S OMEN (1983; also starring Ko), it'll still do! The first half is pretty measured in how it sets up the premise but then this explodes with blood, gore, twists and great makeup and special effects all the way up until the very last frame. In addition to the bloodshed, there's plenty of sleaze, including sex scenes, a rape scene, a shower scene and lots of full frontal female nudity. Clearly made to be little more than trashy, gory fun, this is rather artistically accomplished all the same. The photography, lighting and overall atmosphere are great and you simply don't get this kind of exploitation flick made with these kind of production values nowadays.

It's easy to see why this is one of the most popular Shaw horror films and continues to be occasionally resurrected to play film festivals. In Hong Kong, it was released on both laserdisc and VHS (both with English subtitles) by Ocean Shores. Here in the U.S. we either had to acquire a copy from overseas or wait until the 2008 DVD release from Image. There's recently also been a Blu-ray from 88 Films so this is looking better than ever. The director also made HELL HAS NO BOUNDARY (1982) and GHOST'S LOVER (1987).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...