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The Enchanting Ghost

Hong Kong 1970
produced by
Runme Shaw for Shaw Brothers
directed by Chou Hsu Chiang
starring Chang Mei-Yao, Yang Li Hua, Tsui Fu Sheng, Lei Ming, Ko Hsiang Ting, Li Hung, Tai Liang, Ko Hisao Pao, Li Chi-Lun, Sha Li-Wen, Lin Ban, Wu Ho
music by Wang Fu-Ling

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Master Lang (Yang Li Hua) is evicted from his home thanks to his own uncle master Shi (Lei Ming), who claims Lang's late father owes him. With no roof over his head, but not needing much as he's a scholar, Lang movies into a decaying mansion that's supposed to be haunted - where he thinks he sees a ghost, unti he finds out it's actually lovely Ruyu (Chang Mei-Yao), who had to flee with her mother (Sha Li-Wen) from her former home, but had to find shelter in the "haunted" mansion since her mother's on the edge of dying ... and really, she dies within minutes. Selflessly, Lang helps Ruyu to bury her, and comforts her over mum's grave as well - and it's no wonder they soon fall in love and become husband and wife.

Back in the village, where Lang once lived and was liked, the villagers wonder what became of him and think he has fallen for a ghost - until they meet Ruyu.

Master Shi learns about Ruyu eventually and wants to make her his - and to this end he first lures Lang out of the mansion, then has a messenger sent to Ruyu that he has fallen sick ... and all of a sudden she finds herself in Shi's bedroom, where he drugs and rapes her. Shi's wife (Li Hung) and concubine (Li Chi-Lun) don't like the (involuntary) competition one bit, so they administer her a slow-working poison, then lead her out in the woods to leave her to die. Ruyu's a fighter though, and she clings to life as long as she can - but then realizes she just can't face Lang no more after being defiled and drowns herself - to soon enough come back as a ghost and kill Shi, his wife, his concubine and all his helpers in imaginative ways.  Then she bids Lang a final farewell, leaving him heartbroken.

 

The major thing to mention about The Enchanting Ghost of course is that its male lead Master Lang is played by a woman - which is quite disorienting at first, because Yang Li Hua is quite a beauty and looks and talks in a very feminine way, naturally, and there's no narrative necessity for having him played by a woman - but then again, Yang Li Hua does do her job well enough to make one forget about this casting oddity at least most of the time. Other than that, the film is a competently shot morality tale that takes full advantage of the Shaw Brothers' very own sets and costumes (most you will recognize from other movies of the era, but that's part of the charm of these films), but it lacks a bit in originality - in fact, the plot is almost disappointingly predictable.

That's not to say this is a bad movie, just a run-of-the-mill melodrama, this one with horror undercurrents, that doesn't exactly waste your time in an unpleasant way ... but in a day or two you might have forgotten about it all the same.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD