Hong Kong Horror Films
While movies from mainland China were heavily regulated for years (and still are on occasion), the Hong Kong film industry has thrived thanks to a more open-minded approach to artistic expression. This has led to a number of innovative motion pictures, not to mention a whole slew of excellent Hong Kong horror films. If you’re up to the challenge of trying something different, I suggest you give one of the following a look:
- Ebola Syndrome (1996) - A nasty little exploitation flick from Hong Kong, Ebola Syndrome stars Anthony Wong Chau-Sang as Ah Kai, a murderous Chinese convict who flees to South Africa after murdering his former boss and the man’s wife. But he’s just getting started, as an outing with his new boss leads to an encounter with a tribe infected by the Ebola virus. Kai rapes one of the dying members of the tribe and finds himself a carrier of the disease. I won’t spoil the rest of this Herman Yau flick, but let’s just say that the restaurant where Kai works could rack up more health code violations than any other business in recorded history.
- Night Corridor (2003) - Struggling London-based artist Sam Yuen (Daniel Wu) is thrown for a loop when he receives word that his twin brother has been seriously injured. Scraping together enough money to return to Hong Kong, he arrives only to find that his twin has passed away. That’s when things get weird, as Sam must now deal with his hysterical mother, his brother’s horny girlfriend, a deranged librarian who may be Satan, and a number of others who seem ready for the asylum. Oh, and did I mention that his brother was mauled to death by wild monkeys? A dark and brooding film delivering style and numerous disturbing undercurrents.
- Mr. Vampire (1985) - Written and directed by Ricky Lau, Mr. Vampire is a comedy horror film whose massive success led to seven additional films in the franchise and a related TV series. Lam Ching-ying stars as Master Kau, a Taoist priest with a couple of bumbling assistants (Ricky Hui and Chin Siu Ho). When he’s hired to perform a reburial ceremony for a wealthy man, Kau is shocked to see that the corpse is still alive. This leads to a hopping vampire being on the loose, and his undead cravings lead to a number of casualties. While the bloodsucker is difficult enough to deal with, poor Master Kau must also cope with the troubles of his moronic assistants, including one nearly becoming a vampire and the other being seduced by a ghost.
- The Blue Jean Monster (1991) - Similar in many regards to Dead Heat, the film starring Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo, The Blue Jean Monster revolves around a dedicated cop who gets killed in a shootout prior to the birth of his child. But he’s so dedicated that he refuses to lie down and die. Instead, he pulls his blue jeans tight to keep his entrails from falling out, and goes looking for his killers. A bizarre mixture of comedy, action, and horror. Sadly, Joe Piscopo is nowhere to be found.
- Dr. Lamb (1992) - Hong Kong star Danny Lee made his directorial debut with this grisly film based on real-life events which occurred in the early ‘80s. Simon Yam plays Lam Gor-Yu, a disturbed taxi driver who murders young women on each rainy night, often posing their bodies or engaging in necrophilia. But larger social issues are also touched upon, including police brutality and the tendency for society to dismiss killers are nothing more than human waste. A graphically overwhelming film, Dr. Lamb remains one of the most well-known Hong Kong horror films of the early ‘90s.
- Red to Kill (1994) - One that’s bound to offend many viewers, Red to Kill is a powerful film that will grab you by the throat, squeeze like hell, and then spit in your face. Thanks to a childhood incident in which his brother and father were hacked to death by his mother, hulking Chi Wai Chan (Ben Ng) is driven into a psychotic rage whenever he sees the color red. He runs a home for the mentally challenged, and pretty Ming-Ming Yuk Kong (Lily Chung) is admitted there as a patient. But when she wears a red dress to a dance recital, Chan wastes no time in raping her. When his case is thrown out due to a technicality, a small gang of concerned citizens gets together to put an end to his violent ways. A complex film that lulls you into a sense of calm only to explode in violence, Red to Kill is highly recommended for those looking for challenging and disturbing subject matter. Directed by controversial filmmaker Billy Tang.
- Human Pork Chop (1993) - Also known as The Untold Story, this tale claims to be based on a true story. I hope that’s not really the case, as it centers around Wong Chi Hang (Anthony Wong Cha-Sang), a lunatic who murders his boss and the man’s family and serves them up as the main dish at the Eight Immortals Restaurant. Brutal cops get on his trail, but our anti-hero just keeps on killing employees, raping a few, and grinning like a madman. The family massacre scene will shock the hell out of more sensitive viewers, as will pretty much every moment in this delightfully deranged horror-comedy from Hong Kong. Fans of Takashi Miike should feel right at home.
- Dumplings (2004) - Fruit Chan’s deranged tale first appeared in Three…Extremes, a horror anthology dedicated to the work of noted Asian directors. This feature expands on the short in a number of ways, making it even more uncomfortable in the process (something fans of the original may find hard to believe). Mrs. Li (Miriam Yeung) is a rich woman who’s beginning to lose her looks. Through a combination of vanity and a desire not to lose her husband’s affections, she ends up seeking out Mei (Bai Ling), a local cook whose dumplings are said to contain magical rejuvenating properties. Sure enough, the dumplings work wonders, but the audience will be horrified when they learn of the ingredients. From there, the movie gets even more twisted with sexual affairs, abortions, and schoolgirls having their female organs mangled. One of my favorite of all Hong Kong horror films.
- Bio Zombie (1998) - Several years before Shaun of the Dead popularized the combination of comedy and zombie movies, director Wilson Yip released this groundbreaking film onto an unsuspecting Chinese public. Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan) and Crazy Bee (Sam Lee) are a couple of bickering pals who work at a local mall selling bootleg movies. When they accidentally run over a man in their bosses’ car, they take him back to the mall to recuperate. Little do they know that the injured pedestrian has chugged down a soft drink that’s actually an Iraqi biological weapon, one which turns its victims into zombies. Soon the mall is overflowing with the undead, and a motley band of survivors must find a way out. A fun movie with lots of gore, think of Bio Zombie as China’s answer to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.