I’m willing to bet that even if you’re a huge fan of fx legend Tom Savini that you likely never knew in 1982 he was flown to Hong-Kong to do special fx on an obscure horror comedy called ‘Til Death Do We Scare’! I never heard of it until a month ago & was completely intrigued. For good reason too, this is one wacky bizarre little mess of a damn movie!
Directed by Lau Kar-wing this essentially follows the story of a down on her luck widow whose husbands keep dying in mysterious & slightly stupid ways on their respective wedding days. For instance one dies by way of random bird flying directly into his freaking mouth at the altar!
Well, I guess, lucky for her the ghosts of her 3 dead stooge husbands all meet in the afterlife & team up vowing to watch over her. What we get here is a totally moronic misadventure, with her 3 former lovers for some reason trying to set her up with a wacky yet I’m assuming unintentionally creepy radio DJ dude. Yep he does his fair share of stalking the beautiful widow, with surprisingly positive results! Who knew stalking could be such a turn on?!
For some reason the three zany ghosts spend a lot of the time in the movie fucking with him, moving chairs around and making him physically unable to take off his pants when getting ready to get some sexy action! They also spend a little time scaring him thank god and that’s exactly where the film’s real star imo, Tom Savini finally enters the scene with those impressive 80s special effects and creepy makeup stylings everyone loves him so much for. In fact part of me kinda wondered, maybe Tim Burton watched this one, because some of these ghost’s wild scare antics combined with Savini’s make up effects bring to mind his classic film Beetlejuice.
On second thought I’m pretty certain Burton never saw a peep of this one! The film kind of shifts gears in its 3rd act and involves our creepy lover boy along with his pathetic best buddy being exiled off to an extra dimensional island of the dead. There everything seems strangely to be made of paper mache(?), paper mache cars, paper mache walls, paper mache staircases, which are NEVER a good thing. But none the less a full on paper mâché nightmare!
So there the two of them (for some unknown reason), face off against the dead’s annoying overlord who’s followed by a gang of well dressed partying ghosts. The finale of the movie is where Savini clearly unloads his trunk of extra props from Creepshow! OOOOH YEAH! Where he helps bring to life a giant blue Chinese vampire and his horde of wicked zombies! I’m guessing Mr. Savini was working with a shoe string budget here, as the fx work is fun, it def does look a bit unfinished. I’m not sure if I was just too stoned to understand the plot correctly or if this thing was just a crazy giant mash up of weird lost in translation mayhem! By the time it was done I was so confused with what I’d seen, but at the same time completely satisfied. Sure I’d hoped Savini was working on a bonafide gem of a lost Hong Kong horror flick of the 1980’s that I could shout on the mountain tops to my fellow cinefiles! Instead I just relished in all the fun Tom Savini must have had while filming this ridiculous mess in 1980’s Hong Kong….
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..