Here’s a sweet little Hong Kong horror/action/comedy hybrid from 1985 that really put a BIG smile on my face, ‘Those Merry Souls’. Yeah this all but forgotten flick has some serious star power, featuring the likes of martial arts legends like the charming Yuen Biao & the late horror icon “Mr. Vampire” himself Lam Ching Ying (RIP) together for one spooky comedic action packed romper.
Now as you can see the poster here. makes it look maybe like a full on comedy, and in many ways ‘Those Merry Souls’ plays out like one. However it also has a serious supernatural aspect and threat that slowly rears it’s head to the final genuinely creepy action packed finale. This one tells the story of two stuntmen one a wildly talented martial artist and his bumbling whiny cousin who’s obsessed with a beautiful local club singer. Oh yeah and their uncle has recently developed a rare creepy ability to astral project and has been helping people who die find their way to the other side. He helps those merry souls but during his waking life doesn’t remember a lick of it ever happening.
The two bosom buddy stuntmen spend most of their time trying to ridiculously find romance and getting into trouble while doing so, one of the best scenes takes place on a beach where Yuen Biao shines showing his kick ass martial arts skills taking on a gang beach bullies in only his skimpy little swim suit. Biao really should have been an international star, he’s got the skills and a similar raw charisma of Jackie Chan. Things do get a bit dark and scary here though and what starts off like the perfect 80’s Hong Kong buddy comedy morphs into a pretty thrilling little supernatural tale.
This happens when their uncle, while in his astral form is instructed to take the soul of his own nephew when he’s injured doing a wild stunt on a movie set. At the moment of truth though he decides to let him live & spare his soul a mistake that costs him his own life and sets forth an evil entity upon them. In a way it’s a tiny bit Final Destination and when they employ the help of their other uncle, played by Lam Ching Ying, who’s of course got some secret magic skills of his own to ward off evil, things get really interesting.
The film’s finale is joyous as the whole gang along with their girlfriends all face off the evil entity along with their taoist priest uncle in an action packed final showdown. The stakes get high and the action is off the rails bonkers in true Hong Kong fashion as the entity possesses members of the group and soon things erupt into a crazy supernatural kung fu battle.
We even get to see Lam Ching Ying and Yuen Biao go at it full force, which is treat to behold. Bottom line here, ‘Those Merry Souls’ is a damn good time balancing out the comedy, kung fu & supernatural elements in all the right ways, something I’ve noticed many Hong Kong films of this era seem to fail at in my opinion more often than succeeding. If you’re looking to get in 80’s Hong Kong Horror I highly recommend ‘Those Merry Souls’ as the perfect party movie to share with a hungry gang of movie maniacs!
And for fans of Yuen and LamChing Ying check this out too..
This Halloween I’m gonna make a few obscure retro foreign horror movie recommendations that you may have missed out on from that oh so sweet era of the genre: the 1980’s! I just checked out a rad little Hong Kong Horror movie from 1987 called ‘Vampire’s Breakfast’!!
This forgotten little horror gem is a load of fun with a heapin’ dose of spooky settings, comedy, romance and action in the way that only Hong Kong cinema delivered back in the day. I really enjoyed how for the most part this one plays the horror pretty straight, keeping the all too usual Hong Kong “slapstick potty humor” out of the equation entirely. For me some of the 80’s Hong Kong stuff can be completely ruined by crappy potty humor and comedy that just plain hasn’t aged well (and keep in mind I’m not normally easily offended either). Nope, here we have a cool cast of characters and genuinely nasty “American/European” style vamp on the loose rather than the traditional Chinese hopping kind. We’ve got some funky footage of Hong Kong in the 80’s here and totally sweet fashion of the era in full swing.
The iconic Kent Cheng stars as a newspaper reporter who’s hot on the trail of a serial killer and after poking around a police crime scene begins to suspect that the killer might actually be a living breathing vampire. No one takes him seriously except a boozed up car stereo thief, who he reluctantly teams up with to track down the suspected bloodsucker. Along the way though he interviews one of the killer’s victims who barely escaped with her life, the oh soooo cute Emily Chu looking as stylee as ever.
Of course it’s love at first sight and we’re then treated to a full on 80’s style Hong Kong “John Hughs” cheezy romance, which is a total charm amidst the horror. The thing I really dig about this is movie, are the horror elements, unafraid to get nasty when it needs to as well as some action sequences that can be pretty exciting as well. No kung fu here though, which is kind of nice actually as it plants this one in a more believable horror setting, but that’s not to say the portly Kent Cheng can’t deliver the kicks, check out 1989’s ‘Vampire Buster’ to see his skills.
There’s a lot to love here if you’re looking for something different this Halloween, the vampire here is plenty fierce as well. He’s got a pretty sinister look and raises plenty of Hell on the foggy streets of Hong Kong. There’s also some unexpected moments of gore as well that ramp things up nicely in the finale. I’d say this one definitely deserves more love and most definitely a cleaned up blu ray release with more fleshed out subtitles. A colorful, creepy tale full of endearing characters and a brisk pace make this one standout viewing this Halloween for those who love uncovering hidden gems from horror’s sweet spot era of the 1980’s.
Hey I’m back & I’m coming at you with 5 badass movie recommendations for everyone who’s staying home as much as possible due to the crazy ongoing crisis in the country. It’s definitely been a strange summer so far and it’s looking more and more likely that many states might go back on lockdown. So with that being said I think it’s a good idea to have some cool shit planned for those days ahead whether or not it ends up happening. I’ve got 5 flicks that you’ve got to check out if you’re a fan of 80’s and early 90’s cult/cinema/horror goodness! You know, movies that took place in far simpler, more totally rad times in general! So let’s get down to business-it’s been too long!
Miracle Mile (1988)
Damn this movie was a great surprise, especially if you are obsessed with the 1980’s. Right off the bat, It’s got one of the coolest soundtracks around from the masters Tangerine Dream. It’s basically the story of a guy in L.A., in a brand new relationship, who late one evening randomly answers a ringing pay phone. He has a bizarre conversation with a soldier who claims to have secret info of a nuclear missile that’s currently headed there for a collision course with the city! There’s so much tension as he tries to figure out what the hell to do next and if the threat is even real at all. If it is he’d better come up with one helluva plan to get out of dodge, save himself and his new love before the city is turned to a big pile of rubble. It’s filled with thrills ‘a plenty, true heart, action, comedy, romance and a looming sense of impending doom that’s hard to shake! Track this down if you’re looking for a nearly all but forgotten pitch perfect 80’s gem.
Full Eclipse (1993)
Yeah, Mario Van Peebles kicks major ass in this awesome early 90’s horror/action hybrid cult classic. It’s got a full on “Blade” vibe to it too as Mario plays a cop who bites off more than he can chew when he meets an elite group of vigilantes who get jacked up on a weird drug that mutates them into wolf like super humans. He eventually gets tricked into getting a dose of the drug and finds himself conflicted in the ranks of his new gang of “crime fighting” friends. Filled with frenetic action, lots of blood, cool fx and a big hairy ass werewolf, Full Eclipse is 90’s horror action gold. It also showcases Mario’s skills as an action hero that really deserved much more cred back in the day. I love that he basically becomes Wolverine with a gun! You can’t go wrong with this one, it’s kind of like werewolf vigilante version of The Lost Boys meets the X-men!
Web of Deception (1989)
This rad little creepy Hong Kong thriller is a ton of fun! It’s got an all female cast of women who get tangled in a true “web of bloody deception” filled with evil double crossing and plenty of murder. A high profile business woman finds herself being blackmailed by a mysterious stranger right before she’s to relocate to Canada for a new job opportunity. Becoming more than obsessed in finding out who the crook is she’s soon stalked inside of her dimly lit mansion by the money hungry perp. Things get fully out of control & over the top as several “friendly” acquaintances find themselves wrapped up in the drama as well and soon no one is to be trusted. This absurd, darkly comedic thriller takes so many unbelievably fun twists and turns that you’ll have to turn your own suspension of disbelief up to 11, all the way to it’s crazy finale. Great sinister atmosphere & awesome evil females really prove that the ladies can be just as terrible as the men. It can be tuff to find, but it’s definitely worth the trouble to track down..
The Aftermath (1982)
Have you ever seen ‘Empire of the Dark’? If so you’re likely a big fan of Steve Barkett, the most unlikely of action heroes!! If you’ve never seen “Empire” you’ll likely wanna check ‘The Aftermath’ first, though not as ridiculously over the top as it’s predecessor it’s a great intro to the “younger” more “fit” version of Barkett. The Aftermath was written, directed, produced by & stars Barkett and you can definitely tell it’s the case because he’s always way on top of his damn game. It’s got a sort of ‘Planet of the Apes’ type of thing going on, as he plays an astronaut who returns to Earth after a nuclear holocaust to encounter evil gangs, mutants, beautiful women (of course right?) & main diabolical villain, Sid Haig! Barkett pours his heart and soul into making himself the best at damn near everything he attempts and really goes the distance with his limited budget to recreate a demolished cityscape. It’s a grimy world but Barkett is there to clean it up, save the ladies and take no prisoners. It’s a perfect midnight movie, filled with stupidly awesome action sequences and some sweet gore to boot! Double feature this one with Empire of the Dark from 1990 for the full “Barkett Experience’!!
Def by Temptation (1990)
Here’s probably the best Troma release outside of the ‘Toxic Avenger’, a great horror flick that simply deserves more love. One of the few early all black cast/directed horror movies make this a pretty unique viewing experience. The simple tale of an evil succubus who hangs out at a local big city bar to pick up skeezy womanizers and feed on their sinning souls! With a bit of a “Fright Night” vibe going on & a cast of interesting characters (plus a cameo from Samuel L. Jackson!) Def By Temptation def has a lot going for it. The ultra charismatic Kadeem Hardison leads this movie along with James Bond III (who’s sadly the weak link here) as two friends who become involved in the twisted web of the demonic woman, both falling hard for her one night while out at the bar. Add the awesome Bill Nun to the action and you’ve got a pretty well rounded cast of characters looking to get to the bottom of the mysteriously evil barfly. There’s some great 80’s fx here, comedy, gore and plenty of sexy exploits to behold. Much of the movie has a sort of dreamlike feel to it as well and the whole thing just looks fucking great. Super sleazy totally fun horror romp that many fans missed the first time around!
Hello everyone from the land of self quarantine! Damn!! I really hope all of you out there are staying safe safe, staying home and keeping your damn sanity. With all that being said, I guess some good can indeed come out of all this isolation? On the bright side there’s now plenty of time to watch as many movies, tv shows & read as many comic books as humanly imaginable. But let’s face it, the hard part is finding the quality entertainment to pass the time. So my question to you all: what should I be watching to take my mind off of all of this damn craziness? One can only watch so much of the depressing anxiety inducing news! So please let me know in the comments what the hell I might be missing out on!
I’d say the best thing that I’ve seen since this stinkin’ self quarantine began was a movie called “Good Boys” from 2019. It’s easily one of the best damn comedies of the last 5 years, no doubt about that. It follows the adventures of three tween boys as they go on a “desperate” mission to recover a lost drone they used to spy on their teenage neighbor in hopes of learning how to kiss for an upcoming “kissing party”. Of course along the way they get into a shitload o’ mischief and meet more than their fair share of ridiculously shady characters. It kind of reminds me of ‘Superbad’ with 12 year olds. Make no mistake, this by no means is a kids movie though, but the kids in it are full on comic geniuses. One of my new faves for sure. So check it out if you’re looking for something that’s likely to put a smile on your face in the times of pandemic. It won’t disappoint!
Otherwise the movie pickins have been pretty slim to be honest. I checked out a couple horror movies from the 80s that were filmed in my home state of Wisconsin, both of which ended up being interesting for that reason to me but easily could cause drowsiness to the average movie fanatic. Oddly, both I believe were released by Troma films at some point in time. First was ‘Blood Hook’, a semi-promising 80’s fishing slasher flick and second was the super snoozer ‘The Capture of Bigfoot.’
Both appeared, from their cool VHS covers to be epic horror flicks, but I quickly found myself nearly nodding off or having those wicked thoughts of god damn Corona weaseling it’s way back into my mind. Not a good sign. I am though, very intrigued with movies that were filmed in Wisconsin, especially horror movies which there really aren’t many of in the land of cheese.
The Midwest was not exactly the epicenter of groundbreaking filmmaking especially in the 80s. But if you’re from “America’s Dairyland” both of these are definitely worth a peek for that fact at least I suppose?
I did though check out a cool movie from 1989 called ‘Vampire Buster'(AKA Ninja Vampire Busters), a sweet Hong Kong horror comedy. It follows an haunted urn containing a wicked demon that mysteriously ends up in Hong Kong after being auctioned off to a rich Tycoon. Of course things go off the rails when the evil is accidentally released from it and wastes no time to begin possessing innocent people. Luckily the owner of the urn, “The Vampire Buster” is hot on its tracks, arriving in Hong Kong with his supernatural abilities and smooth ass martial arts moves in full effect.
Lots of cool 80s visual-effects going on here and some genuinely creepy moments, along with a hefty dose of well landing comedy make ‘Vampire Buster’ one of the standouts in my recent binge of Hong Kong horror viewing. Much of how entertaining it is largely relies on Kent Cheung’s (who stars as the magical demon buster) charisma and highly impressive martial arts skills. For a man of his stature he surely has some truly impressive feats of agility, bringing to mind the legendary Sammo Hung. Track down ‘Vampire Buster’ and I even advise watching it with the English dub track as it’s pretty well done and the voices for once I feel actually enhance the movie’s charm. That being said there was not one damn vampire to be seen in ‘Vampire Buster’….Ok now what have YOU seen that’s worth a watch during the pandemic?
I finally after years of searching, got a copy of the highly elusive, lost Hong Kong Horror / Sci-fi flick from 1991! If you’ve ever seen the director’s previous movie ‘Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki’ then you’ve got a decent idea of what you’re in for here. Lam Ngai Kai, the cult director at the helm here ended his wild and truly weird film making run with this crazy gem and then completely disappeared, likely completely satisfied with the truly bonkers back catalog of films he left behind.
‘The Cat’ is the perfect finale to his cult legacy as well, the only problem is, it’s a damn hard one to track down unless you search it down on Youtube and can find decent a version with subtitles, I’m not a big fan of the film quality that turns up there for many of these “lost” movies. But sometimes it’s the only way to check these rare flicks out. Filmed back to back with ‘Riki-Oh’, this one again is a short, sweet briskly paced, frenetic adventure with a runtime just under 80 minutes.
The story of course is yet another truly weird one: an amorphous blob of tentacled evil, is set loose from somewhere in deep space down to the streets of Hong Kong. Meanwhile mild mannered adventure novelist Wisely, is given an odd tip from a friend who suspects something strange afoot at his normally quiet apartment complex, discovering his next door neighbors are a trio aliens from another planet being lead by their “pet” cat named ‘The General’. Stranded on Earth they’re intent on completing a mysterious secret mission. Soon Wisley’s stuck in a mind bending web of utter mayhem when he tracks down & befriends the alien trio, embarking on a horror drenched adventure to stop the evil alien blob from continuing it’s path of destruction.
The Cat’s got a lot going for it, especially if you’re a fan of gooey, fast moving horror movies like Evil Dead II & stuff like The Terminator and The Thing. It’s got sweet 80’s style special FX galore, “Cat vs Dog” fist fights, over the top gun play & a down right bizarre train wreck of a plot. I mean that in the best way possible and some of the way it comes off is likely do to the crude translation of the dialogue via subtitles. It’s got a few scenes that kinda just have to be seen to be believed, not nearly anywhere as gory as Riki-Oh, but surely a unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a movie before. Particularly a sequence where the intelligent alien cat “General” is pursued by Hong Kong’s most dangerous canine, a hulking mastiff, who’s been sent by Wisely to hunt him down. Dog & cat duke it out in a creepy junkyard while the ‘General’ the cat displays some incredible human fighting techniques and even sports an unbelievable wresting move right out of the WWF to end the whole damn confrontation!
There’s tons of colorful, gooey practical fx to marvel over as well, puppets, gore, stunts & that classic 80’s electricity used to pure perfection. Director Lam Ngai Kai truly revels in the absurdity of it all and clearly used his stunning fx spectacles as the center pieces for his films. Turning your mind off and simply enjoying the eye candy is the best approach to his movies. I’m stunned most only know his movie Riki-Oh, which is now a bonafide cult classic, when he’s got a trove of incredible movies that all rival it. Do yourself a favor and check out ‘The Seventh Curse’ & ‘The Ghost Snatchers’ from 1986, ‘The Peacock King’ from 1989 as well as ‘The Cat’ & ‘Riki Oh’ 9if you haven’t seen that one yet). All of these movies deserve a remastered official blu ray release dammit!! Until then I’ve got some extra boot VHS copies of the movie If you’re interested!!