These days, we are bombarded with so many reel gems sitting around in YouTube that we decided to start a new feature (where we spend hours) sifting out the best in class, so you dont have to. Whenever possible, we will only choose films with english subtitles. Please note that the lists are non-exhaustive, and if you do like what you see, please please show your support and buy the original dvd.
TOP 10 HONG KONG HORROR CLASSICS FOUND ON YOUTUBE
Most of these films are classified as action-horror-comedies with simple plots and morality tales. Consider them as kungfu with a supernatural element and slapstick mixed in.
In the early 80s and 90s, Sammo Hung starred in many such films for Golden Harvest. The cast is familiar across the same genre as most of them trained under the same Peking opera school as Sammo Hung. Sammo Hung later formed the stuntman group, Hung Kar Pan, with this group of opera school brothers. Notable members who solidified their own movie careers are Yuen Biao and Lam Ching Ying of Mr Vampire’s fame.
In these movies, a typical archetype that make regular appearances is the honest, righteous and hardworking poor folk who is the protagonist. The antagonist is usually a ne’er-do-well scion of a rich family, aided by a evil priest.
These movies are instant classic because they played to their strength. Simple plot and not ‘pretentious’. Action and slapstick, and the masses love to cheer on an underdog.
One movie that stands out from the rest is ‘The Imp’ as it’s a ‘serious’ horror movie. In its day, it was hailed as one of the most scary horror movie within Hong Kong and Asian cinema.
The only movie without English subtitles is ‘Hocus Pocus’ but it’s hard to leave it out as it’s also culturally rich. It provides a glimpse of what happens behind the curtains of a opera troupe, involving the rituals of a travelling opera troupe. These practices are still in place today in modern Chinese opera. For example, when one dons the makeup and clothes of the legendary Justice Guang Gong, one is not to utter a single word until he ‘sheds’ the character because of the gravitas of the character and the symbolism. Justice Guang Gong is very much respected among the living as well as dead.
So without further adieu, here are the films in no particular ranking order:
1. MR. VAMPIRE (1985)
The planned reburial of a village elder goes awry as the corpse resurrects into a hopping, bloodthirsty vampire, threatening mankind. Therefore, a Taoist Priest and his two disciples attempt to stop the terror.
2. MR. VAMPIRE III (1987)
Expelled by a band of restless ghosts in his village, Taoist Priest Mao Ming, and his two spirit companions, visit another village to seek wealth. There, Ming meets Master Gau, the “Vampire Buster,” who is trying to defeat an evil Sorceress and her henchmen, whose goal is to conquer the human race.
3. MAGIC COP (1990)
After “Mr. Vampire,” there was a trend of Taoist-magic/vampire hunting movies, preferably starring Ching Ying Lam. One of the better examples is “Magic Cop,” which introduces Taoist magic and zombies into a modern urban setting – it has some humor that doesn’t quite work, but it’s still an enjoyable supernatural comedy. Interesting trivia: Magic Cop is written by the same writer for Shaolin Soccer.
4. A CHINESE GHOST STORY (1987)
Ning Tsai-Shen, a humble tax collector, arrives in a small town to carry out his work. Unsurprisingly, no-one is willing to give him shelter for the night, so he ends up spending the night in the haunted Lan Ro temple. There, he meets Taoist Swordsman Yen Che-Hsia, who warns him to stay out of trouble, and the beautiful Nieh Hsiao-Tsing, with whom he falls in love. Unfortunately, Hsiao-Tsing is a ghost…
5. THE DEAD AND THE DEADLY (1982)
Wah Li, known as Fat Boy to his friends, lives with his great-uncle the priest (Uncle). Together with his oddball friends Lai Li and Momo, Wah Li helps Uncle to run the local funeral services. When the body Ma Lun Chio is brought back to the village by a new wife and her “brother”, Wai Li is suspicious. He sets out to find out how his friend died, but things are not what they seem.
6. SPOOKY, SPOOKY (1988)
A village man is executed by drowning, for committing adultery. His mistress, in attempts to flee the village, dies when she plummets into a pool of quicksand. Years later, people swimming in the ocean mysteriously vanishes, and their bodies wash ashore days later. A local policeman named Lu Hsien who practices Taoist magic believes a water ghost (presumably the ghost of the adulterer) is responsible for their deaths. Therefore, he joins forces with his colleague, Wang Hsiao-Ming, to rid the countryside of this demon before he can strike again.
7. THE IMP (1981)
Ah Kan encounters sinister turns of fate in his workplace, and he becomes frightened enough to consult with a Taoist priest. The priest informs him that his workplace had been the site of kidnappings and murders, his house is another source of unnatural influence, and he was born on a day that makes him vulnerable to wandering ghosts. These dark forces also threaten his pregnant wife and unborn child, leading Ah Kan on a harrowing journey into the unknown in order to protect himself and his family.
8. ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND (1980)
Villager Bold Cheung (Sammo Hung), known for his willingness to do anything courageous, bold or daring, becomes a target by the evil rich Master Tam, who committed adultery with Cheung’s unfaithful wife and wants to keep her as his mistress. Cheung is tricked into a bet to spend the night in a haunted temple, where a vampire was unleashed by Priest Chin Hoi, hired by Tam, to kill him. However, Hoi’s more righteous colleague, Priest Tsui, wants to save Cheung and counterattack Hoi and Tam’s wicked deeds.
9. ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND II (1990)
Impoverished teahouse worker (and martial-arts student) Abao is engaged to his boss’ daughter, Little Chu, and fights to protect her from the lecherous advances of the wealthy but repulsive Master Shi. The two men’s romantic rivalry escalates into full-scale supernatural warfare after Shi enlists the aid of a wicked sorcerer, and Abao encounters a benevolent female ghost.
10. THE HAUNTED COP SHOP (1987)
Two wacky cops witness the resurrection of an evil Japanese vampire. It seems their police station was once a club for Japanese officers, but after the war they all got together and committed seppuku (ritual suicide). As a result, the station is haunted by the evil Japanese Colonel.
BONUS FILM: HOCUS POCUS (1984) – no eng sub
Inspired by the paranormal stories of opera veteran Master Sheng, an opera troupe, which includes the daring actor Kuei, trick each other with ghostly stories and horror tricks. The troupe is repulsed by the overly-confident opera actor Chia; therefore, they play the ultimate ghost trick on him. When Chia finds out, he confronts the troupe, resulting them in keeping a distance from each other. However, the troupe’s troubles worsen when their opera stage is haunted by a mischievous and restless ghost.
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