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SEEDING OF A GHOST

If you can get past this film’s lousy opening minutes you’ll experience one of the wildest of all Hong Kong horror movies--and considering the unfettered nature of most such films, that’s no faint praise.

The Package
     SEEDING OF A GHOST (ZHONG GUI; 1983) was one of the final entries in the Shaw Brothers (Run Run and Runme) horror cycle. Others include BLACK MAGIC and its sequel, THE KILLER SNAKES and the mind-roasting BOXER’S OMEN. SEEDING OF A GHOST, often identified as a second sequel to BLACK MAGIC, is not, as the Image DVD mistakenly alleges, the “most extreme Hong Kong cult film of them all” (that honor in my view goes to BOXER’S OMEN), but it is a blast, containing everything that makes Hong Kong horror fun.

The Story
     A mild mannered taxi driver’s casino dealer wife is cheating on him with a married rich man. When the woman tries to convince her lover to leave his wife, she’s killed by a couple of scumbags who also beat up her hubbie. Luckily, the latter is in contact with an ancient sorcerer he accidentally hit with his cab. He asks the sorcerer to help enact revenge on his wife’s murderers, and also the guy she was banging. The sorcerer warns against seeking vengeance but the taxi driver is insistent.
     The fun begins with the sorcerer digging up the murdered woman’s corpse and reanimating it in such a way as to guarantee that those who harmed her will have no peace--in other words, the sorcerer turns the corpse into a “love deity.” Scary hallucinations start things off, followed by exploding toilets and the bodily possession of the wife of the dead woman’s former lover, who kills her husband by pushing him off the top floor of their apartment building.
     The insanity really kicks in when a good sorcerer shows up to take on the other in a magic duel. The bad sorcerer is vanquished but the darkness isn’t staunched by any means--in fact you might say it’s just beginning, as a nasty critter with sharp teeth and tentacles is about to be birthed…

The Direction
     The opening scenes of this film flat-out suck. They make it out to be a trashy sexploitation flick with only minimal hints of the horror to come; it doesn’t help that the frequently nude performers frankly aren’t very attractive. But once the scary stuff kicks in around the half-hour mark the film transforms into something much darker and wilder. And it only grows more outrageous as it goes on, topping itself at every turn in grossness and sheer audacity.
     Violent death is just the start of the outrages, which come to include hallucinations, possession, necrophilia, a mutant birth and a good ol’ monster on the rampage in what is unquestionably one of the most jaw-dropping conclusions of any horror movie. Director Chuan Yang may not be too proficient in things like subtlety or craftsmanship, but he knows how to put on a bold and unapologetic scare show.
     Those unfamiliar with the particulars of Hong Kong horror (a brand of cinema as distinct as nearly any) may have a difficult time. The worm barfing depicted in one scene is a long-held Eastern horror convention (with the worms just as often substituted with snakes or eels), as is the music score consisting of (unauthorized) lifts from other soundtracks. As with other such films, a large part of SEEDING OF A GHOST’S enjoyment comes from a tradition so foreign to our own it seems downright surreal. It’s a mistake, I believe, in taking this rotgut epic too seriously (as some have done), but dismissing it as merritless sleaze (as many others have) is also wrong.
 

Vital Statistics

SEEDING OF A GHOST (ZHONG GUI)
Shaw Brothers

Director: Chuan Yang
Producers: Runme Shaw, Run Run Shaw
Cast: Man-Biao Bak, Jaime Mei Chun Chik, Norman Chu, San Nam Hung, Maria Jo, Phillip Ko, Sah-fei Ouyang, Mi Tien, Ga Man Wai, Yee Yan Wai, Yung Wang
 

     

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