Newest Reviews
Furnace, The
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
  Ghost Snatchers, The Haunted High-Rise
Year: 1986
Director: Nam Nai Choi
Stars: Wong Jing, Joey Wong, Stanley Fung, Chui Suk-Woon, Joyce Godenzi, Michael Chan Wai-Man, Shum Wai, Charlie Cho Cha-Lee, Leung Hung-Wah, Yue Tau-Wan, To Siu-Ming, Chan Lap-Ban, Sai Gwa-Pau, Lui Hung, Gam Biu, Wong Yat-Fei
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: At a party celebrating a spectacular newly-built skyscraper in Hong Kong (which never goes well, just ask the cast of Calamity of Snakes (1983)), sultry Judy Hsu (Chui Suk-Woon) is snatched from the ladies' toilets into another dimension. Possessed by ghosts, she returns to Earth on the orders of the evil Ghost King to lure haplessly horny mortal men to their gory deaths. Few more hapless than Chu (Wong Jing), a chubby schlub out to impress his knockout girlfriend Hsueh (Joey Wang), who joins the security team at the building where his affable if lecherous uncle Fan (Stanley Fung) is chief guard. When Chu sees Judy trap a bunch of people in a possessed television set with ghostly help, Hsueh takes him to glamorous lady exorcist Ling (Joyce Godenzi, wife of Sammo Hung) who assembles an arsenal of spells to battle the ghost snatchers.

Infamous schlock writer, producer and director Wong Jing takes a rare lead acting role in The Ghost Snatchers, a seminal Hong Kong horror-comedy from the Eighties when that genre was all the rage. Remarkably for a Hong Kong fright farce the film is actually based on a true story! In the Seventies the Hong Kong Department of Public Works main building was supposedly haunted by the ghosts of Japanese soldiers from World War Two. Civil servants refused to work overtime until an actual geomancer was called in to perform an exorcism. Wong Jing is also credited as 'planner' but The Ghost Snatchers was directed by the much underrated Nam Nai Choi, among the most skillful creators of fantasy, horror and effects films in this era. Best known for cult kung fu splatter-fest The Story of Ricky (1992) Nam began his career at Shaw Brothers where he moved from cinematography to directing gritty crime thrillers like Men from the Gutter (1983) then truly came into his own with outlandish supernatural fare: The Seventh Curse (1987), Peacock King (1988) and the insane genre mash-up The Cat (1992). After that astonishing run Nam sadly disappeared.

The opening sequence alone showcases Nam's mastery of supernatural suspense sequences as he interweaves awesome old school optical effects, distorted lenses, coloured gels and bravura camera-work to convey a sense of the otherworldly invading the rational realm. Zombie hands burst through a wall to grab Miss Hsu in a nod to Day of the Dead (1985) which is only the first in a succession of cheeky homage-cum-rip-offs from a selection of seminal horror films: a sexy aerobics instructor pulls a horny idiot through a haunted TV a la Videodrome (1982) (the television also sprouts legs to chase Chu round the room), a cinema fills full of zombies just like in Messiah of Evil (1973) (although here the undead generously share their popcorn), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) style dream sequence has Hsueh pulled into a pastel pink-and-blue afterlife where her dead brother's ghost (Michael Chan Wai-Man) gets squished by the giant hand of the Ghost King, a fight with a reanimated skeleton modelled on The Terminator (1984) before a climax with an exploding head gag lifted from Scanners (1981). It is worth noting the film's magpie approach extend to a gag 'inspired' by a scene in Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) where Fan laughs himself silly at a funeral while mourners mistake his mirth for inconsolable grief.

One should not overlook the script input from Nam's frequent collaborator, Leung Hung-Wah. A prolific actor and writer, he later turned director with action films, dramas and thrillers but most notably horror films including Wicked Ghost (1999), a Hong Kong rip-off of The Ring (1998), The Dark Side of My Mind (2003) and Demoniac Flash (2005). Alongside silly slapstick and predictably puerile jokes about AIDS, The Ghost Snatchers boasts a fair few genuinely witty gags both verbal and visual as well as some intriguing insights into traditional Taoist lore. The ghosts in a skyscraper premise anticipates Poltergeist III (1988) although likely influenced by Ghostbusters (1984). Even so the film takes an interesting route, opening the eyes of its cynical city-dwelling heroes to old world beliefs. By making the Taoist ghost buster a thoroughly modern, attractive young woman who runs her exorcism service from a plush high-rise office just like any other business, the film proves more progressive than the Mr. Vampire sequels, reconciling tradition with modernity. That the ghosts turn out to be the restless spirits of a Japanese combat unit from World War Two injects a faintly xenophobic though still interesting subtext possibly alluding to Japan's then-economic domination of Asia. In fact even the AIDs analogies work as Fan's eagerness to get laid almost gets him killed. Along with the evocative sets and sumptuous lighting in the otherworldly realm, the gore effects and zombie shocks prove quite unnerving. Not often the most subtle or even likeable comic performer, Wong Jing is fairly engaging here as a sympathetic oaf though how he scored a hot girlfriend like Joey Wong, a year away from super-stardom with A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), is a bigger mystery than what lurks within the ghost dimension.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1916 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

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
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash


Last Updated: