HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
We Need to Do Something
Falbalas
Vanguard
A-X-L
Injustice
Bigfoot Hunters
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Girls Nite Out
Moxie!
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Demonia
East, The
Mandabi
Seance
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
   
 
Newest Articles
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
   
 
  Happy Ghost IV From Beyond
Year: 1990
Director: Clifton Ko
Stars: Raymond Wong, Pauline Yeung, Wu Fung, Cho Cha-Lee, Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung, Lau Shun, May Lo Mei-Mei, Paul Wong Koon-Chung, Wong Ka-Kui, Steve Wong Ka-Keung, Yip Sai-Wing, Fennie Yuen Kit-Ying, Charine Chan Ka-Ling, Loletta Lee, Yu Miu-Lin
Genre: Horror, Musical, Comedy, Weirdo, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Hapless schoolteacher Sam Hong and his ghostly ancestor Scholar Pik (both played by writer-producer-star Raymond Wong) are back once again in the fourth film in the Happy Ghost series. This time our accident-prone educator has his hands full with four rambunctious but musically talented teenage boys: Kit (Paul Wong Koon-Chung), Man (Wong Ka-Kui), Ying (Steve Wong Ka-Keung) and Mo (Yip Sai-Wing). Meanwhile Hong’s girlfriend, Annie (Pauline Yeung), urges him to straighten his act in front of her father, the school principal (Wu Fung). Annie’s sleazy, rich cousin Chiu (Cho Cha-Lee) has an amorous interest in her, and so hires an inept assassin (Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung) to put a bullet in Hong. All these earthly problems are put into perspective when the teen troublemakers inadvertently unleash the vengeful ghost of “Crazy” Kwan Yeung (Lau Shun), a Ching Dynasty tyrant who seeks vengeance against the girl who ended his life. She happens to have been reincarnated as Annie.

Arriving after films like A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) raised the bar for fantasy films in Hong Kong, Happy Ghost IV is the most ambitious entry in terms of cinematic technique but in its early stage threatens to rank among the most asinine. It is very much a film of two halves: the first painfully ordinary, the latter deliriously inventive full of inspired gags and outstanding special effects. As with Happy Ghost III (1986) the audacious effects, which include a flying severed hand chasing Annie around her apartment to the Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) inspired showstopper wherein a cel animated tiger and kung fu hero leap out of a painting to help Scholar Pik and the boys battle Crazy Kwan, were handled by none other than New Wave maestro Tsui Hark. However, it was not just the effects that propelled this to the top of the box office charts in HK, but also the inclusion of the four members of then-popular boy band Beyond, although the English subtitles hilariously mistranslate their name as “Behind”!

Their presence ensures Happy Ghost IV has an abundance of song-and-dance numbers, making this something of a Cantopop precursor to Glee or High School Musical (2005). Beyond’s infantile antics do wear thin and, like previous entries, some of Raymond Wong’s gags were clearly lifted from western films, notably A Fish Called Wanda (1988) as Chiu’s hit-man drives himself crazy with his continuing failure to kill Sam Hong. The film also unforgivably reduces Happy Ghost Girls: Loletta Lee, Fennie Yuen Kit-Ying, May Lo Mei-Mei and Charine Chan Ka-Ling to walk-on eye-candy with nary a line of dialogue. It takes a good forty minutes or so before the supernatural plot established in the opening scene actually kicks into gear, but once Crazy Kwan arrives on the scene, things get infinitely stranger and more compelling. Using his twelve-foot long tongue, Kwan sucks the energy out of the sleeping boy band and turns them into homicidal zombies who wind up framed for Sam Hong’s murder. Scholar Pik reanimates Hong’s corpse (just as he is about to be cremated!) and joins Annie and the newly revived Beyond to expel Kwan back into the netherworld.

It is a hit and miss effort, but those hits are memorable enough to wipe away the odd lapse, including some surprisingly creepy scenes along with an unexpected reference to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) when a clawed hand menaces Annie in the bathtub. Although a few gags are admittedly derivative, a good number of Raymond Wong’s slapstick set-pieces are genuinely inventive and, more importantly, funny. These include the scene where he pretends the flailing arms and legs of an unconscious Chiu are actually his own and inadvertently sexually harasses the hatchet-faced substitute teacher, the infamous scene where Scholar Pik turns Chiu’s lower half back to front (use your imagination!), plus one cringe-inducing moment where Hong cavorts through a restaurant thinking himself invisible when in fact everyone can see him. Happy Ghost IV also scores points for the only kung fu fight in screen history where a villain is beaten up by an inanimate corpse.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2544 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: