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October 13, 2010

Seeding of a Ghost

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Zhong gui
Chuan Yang - 1983
Image Entertainment Region 1 DVD

A recently posted article explains the status of ghost stories and horror films in Chinese language cinema. Given that Hong Kong now frequently looks to the mainland for financial support as well as an audience for their filmmaking efforts, one can expect even fewer films that dwell on the fantastic. That impact could well reach some other Asian countries as well, such as Thailand, where fewer ghost stories, a staple of that country's cinema, are made, in view of viability in a pan-Asian market.

Seeding of a Ghost may well serve as a record of what was once permissible in for filmmakers in Hong Kong. One of the handful of horror films produced by the Shaw Brothers, there is not only the mix of black magic, Buddhism, and a generous amount of grue, but copious scenes of nudity and simulated sex. For some viewers, this film will be provide everything they will want to know about Maria Yuen and Mi Tien. The film was directed by Richard Yeung Kuen under one of his several pen names.

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Chow, a cab driver, accidentally runs over a grave robber attempting to flee a small band of men chasing after him. Looking under the wheel of his cab, the grave robber seemingly has disappeared. Popping up in the back seat of the cab, the grave robber explains that he knows black magic. Even with Chow aiding in the shaman's escape, Chau is informed that he has brought bad luck to himself and his family, proving once again that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We later see that Chow is married to Irene, a dealer at a casino. A gambler, Ming, has his eye on Irene. Giving her a large tip, Irene spend some of the money on gifts for Chow. The couple seems to be in love, but Ming's increasing generosity tips the scales in his favor, with Irene engaged in an affair. Things go awry when a couple of punks challenge Ming to a road race, and finding Irene alone after a tiff with her lover, kidnap, rape and murder the woman. Chow mysteriously gets a phone message from his dead wife, on his cab phone, which leads him to the scene of the crime. Seeking revenge against his wife's lover, and the men who killed Irene, Chow finds the shaman again. After this, a modicum of suspension of disbelief gives way to total lapses of even a thread of logical storytelling.

This is a horror movie more yucky than scary. Probably the most frightening thing in the film for most people would be the exploding toilet. Chow and the shaman perform a ceremony that reanimates Irene's desiccated body. There's a bit of zombie canoodling, followed by zombie and dead guy's spirit mid-air sex. Irene's spirit shows up to upset Ming's domestic bliss, including the possession of his wife. A band of Buddhist/Taoist monks fight the shaman to exorcize Ming's wife, mostly hurling fire balls back and forth until the shaman's hut burns down. Ming's wife is pregnant with the offspring of zombie Irene, hence the seeding, although how this is achieved is anyone's guess. In what seems like the next day, Ming's wife gives birth to a tentacled monster that is out to kill everyone. The ending suggests that the monster isn't dead, even when the rest of the cast has been shoved off this mortal coil.

There is very little in English on Seeding of a Ghost that I was able to find aside from a few reviews posted online in the past few years. HK Cinemagic mentions that the film had censorship problems in Hong Kong but there is no elaboration or provided sources. A couple of the postings mention that the film may have been intended as a followup to the two Black Magic films, even though the cast and crew were different. What is indicated is that between the nudity and the necrophilia, this film is an extreme anomaly even among the more unusual films from the Shaw Brothers.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 13, 2010 04:49 AM


I saw a few brilliantly written and well-done Hong Kong based films, I saw this film and this movie seems funny than scary..

Posted by: traglee at October 13, 2010 11:33 PM

Hey ! Another great write-up , i really had fantastic time although reading this . Searching a lot more !! Bye

Posted by: araba markalari at October 24, 2010 05:26 PM