AUGUST 22, 2009
If I were to ever add “Kitchen Sink” or maybe just “Batshit!” as a HMAD genre, then Seeding Of A Ghost (Chinese: Zhong Gui) would be the example I used to explain what I meant by it. Even after an hour of the film, I still hadn’t quite gotten a grasp on what type of movie it was. It starts off as a rape-revenge movie, then it’s a just plain old revenge tale, then it’s a martial arts film, then it’s a Big Trouble In Little China-esque battling wizards movie, and then, finally, a monster movie. I can only assume they never threw a vampire or some aliens in due to a lack of time or funds.
As you might have guessed, the film is far from boring. Plotlines are barely introduced before they are resolved and led into the “real” plot, which of course is just another introduction to another, bigger storyline. You know how on The Simpsons they have an otherwise inconsequential first five minutes that just gets them to the main plot? This movie does that for its entire running time. The finale doesn’t even involve our two initial main characters.
Of course, one of them dies early on (the plot synopsis - the author of whom must have had an aneurysm trying to sum this movie up - claims that the film is about a woman’s spirit seeking revenge on those who raped/killed her), so she can be forgiven. But she is sort of resurrected as a goblin-y looking thing, who makes love to her husband’s essence or something... look, I have no idea what the fuck was going on during large chunks of this movie. All I know is, it all ends up with (stick with me here) the friends of the wife of the guy who was having an affair with the woman who died being terrorized by a little monster that seems stolen from Rob Bottin’s workshop circa 1982. And that is the best possible way to end any movie.
And I love that none of this stuff is foreshadowed. There is nothing in the film prior to its occurrence that would tip you off to the fact that you might be watching a guy get sodomized by a giant matchstick at some point. If an American made this film, there would be a seen early on with a guy about to sit down, and then his buddy would be like “Hey don’t sit there, you’ll get a giant matchstick up your ass!”. I appreciate the filmmakers allowing such moments to come as a complete surprise.
For 1983, the effects are pretty decent. The monster is pretty great, and there are some animated visual effects (during the essence-fucking scene, for example) that still hold up pretty well. I also enjoyed all of the fighting; despite the horrid sound effects, the fight choregraphy is spectacular, and it’s nuts how many seemingly-life threatening injuries all parties suffer during these fights (at one point, the “hero” jumps on the bad guy’s chest, which causes the guy to cough up a large quantity of blood. But he lives, only to get haunted (possessed?) by a ghost that makes him eat worms, which causes his mom to puke up some rice. And that’s another great thing about this movie - even the minor characters get fucked over, despite having no involvement with the two inciting incidents (the affair and the rape).
Interestingly enough, when I put the DVD in, it started at the 53 minute mark. Not only does my DVD player not have a reasonable “resume” feature, but I obviously never put the DVD in before, so I found this quite strange. However, once the movie was done I began to wonder if it would have made any difference if I started the film at the halfway mark, watched it until the end, and then watched the first half afterward. It’s not like the plot (for lack of a better word) has any meaningful or discernible progression.
But it’s a wonderfully silly and entertaining movie all the same, and I urge you to check it out. My Horror People Dear Reader partner in occasional crime, Simon Barrett, is urging me to try to get a screening of it going at the New Beverly, but I think it would be better suited for the (far more distinguished and popular) special “Hong Kong Grindhouse” screenings that Brian Quinn puts together every other month (that’s how I saw similar films like Till Death Do We Scare and Encounters Of The Spooky Kind II). Either way, I would love to see this on the big screen with a crowd of like-minded drunks.
The only extras on the DVD are a bunch of trailers for other Shaw Brothers films. I did not watch them, because I imagine that the trailer for this film would spoil a lot of the wackiness (matchstick, monster, etc), so I don’t want other films to be spoiled in the same manner. But if you know of any similar films from the Shaws, please recommend them through the usual channels.
What say you?