This is a Cat III film about three sisters who are infact fox fairies trying to become immortal in human form. To do so they must resist the temptations of the mortal world, which they manage to do until a scholar comes along, and soon they are all desperate to have more of him in a sexual way. But this scholar is not all that he seems... This film is a cult classic Category 3 film.
Where to start with this one. Well this film is claimed to be the film which launched the career of a certain Amy Yip in to Cat III stardom. It has become a bit of a cult film as it combines elements of magic, fantasy, kung fu, swordplay, and, of course, sex into one film featuring three rather attractive female leads. One thing is for certain, you are unlikely to see a film like this coming out of America!
A point of note here is that the title is a little misleading, as there are no ghosts in this film. The reason for this choice of title is quite likely to cash in on the success of the Chinese Ghost Story film's success with part one being released in 1987 and part 2 in 1990. This film was released in 1990.
Anyway, the film centres around three sisters, who are infact fox fairies striving to attain human. They are to be granted human form after meditating for centuries and resisting the temptations of the mortal world. As is the way of things, just as they are nearing the end of their meditation, about 36 days to go to be more exact, one of the sisters, Pai So So (Man Su), encounters a young scholar in trouble. After a very short while, due to ongoings involving the scholar, you begin to think that this guy is the luckiest guy in the world, but soon you realise that everything is not as it first seems.
So in this film, like I said at the start, you have got elements of kung fu, swordplay and magic. No what you have got to remember when watching Erotic Ghost Story is that these are not the major elements of the film. The film is about the story, what there is of one, and the sex. These girls are not fighters, and boy does it show! The choreography is simple, and from the manner which the girls swing their swords about, I'd certainly think that that was complex enough for them. It does make for a good laugh, however, watching them swing the sword around with little technique, and seeing the intended victim run around dodging them. After watching some Jackie Chan or Jet Li it certainly is a break from the norm! The magic effects, too, are quite poor. The glowing that seems to be synonimous with magic is of a mediocre special effects standard, but where the film is really let down effects wise is the switching which occurs that is meant to be a character changing into another form. Take for instance the opening scenes, where the girls are meant to change from gorgeous women to rotting corpses. The director obviously thought that by having a face-on shot of the actress, and then just suddenly changing it to a face on shot of a rotting corpse, with it filling just as much of the screen, that this would be a good effect. There was no slight morphing or anything like that, just a straight switch. What he did fail to take into account though was that the backgroound should be the same for the two shots. To me, that would make sense - film the girl and the corpse infront of the same background. The director obviously did not think so. In the opening scene when these switches happen not only does the body chage, the background does too! The same goes for the face ripping off scene. The dummy that they used to rip the face off of, they could have at least have tried to make it look slightly like the actress that it was supposed to be... These things alone make the film wreek of low budget, but again the effects are not what the director wanted the allure of the film to be!
Well this is a Cat III film, the strongest rating in Hong Kong cinema meaning adults only, so I'm going to have to mention what the main attraction of the film really is, and that is the sex. First off, this is not a porn film. The scene with the sister Fei Fei is the most explicit of all the sex scenes, but it is still not that explicit. The only difference is that she is willing to bare all for the camera, while So So, is legs and top half only, and Hua Hua is back, legs, slight curves only, everything else is conveniently covered. If you have seen Sex and Zen, I'm afraid there are none of the sexrobatics that take place there in Erotic Ghost Story, it is all simple stuff which I guess is meant to highten the eroticism... I personally just found it very funny, not erotic. Granted all the females in this film are very easy on the eye, and Wu Ming is a lucky bas***d, but I could not help but laugh. It is cheesy, yet fun, possibly exploitive, yet comical, but it is completely ridiculous! A good adult laugh.
Audio and Subtitles
The audio in this film was cantonese only (a good thing), so there is absolutely no temptation to switch to a dubbed track. Everything about the sound was just plain bog standard. Nothing special at any point. There was no crystal clarity, but no muffled sound, or tinny resonances. The lip synching was slightly off, but then what's new. It should probably just be taken for granted that the lip-synching will be off, that way I don't have to mention it in virtuall every reviewI write, and I could then get away with only mentioning it when it is particularly good, or particularly bad. Anyway, there is little to comment on, except that it is a purely mono soundtrack.
The same however does not go for the subtitles. Erotic Ghost Story will be far from the biggest release of all the films which I have written reviews for at the time of writing, and as such it would not have been expected to be of the same standard as the others. Despite this, Erotic Ghost Story contains a very good set of subtitles, not perfect, but better than a lot of other HK released DVDs! In Erotic Ghost Story, the subtitles are a good size, clear bold white text with - very importantly - a perfect sized black border around the text. Why is this so important? Well because of this it is possible to read the subtitles regardless what colour the background is! Without the black, should the background behind the text be white, or even very light in colour, then the subtitles would become unreadable. The positioning too is very good. On the film print enabling the viewer to make the most of the widescreen format of the film, should they own a widescreen TV that is... Spelling is nigh on perfect all the way through. I can only recall seeing one spelling mistake in the entire film. The grammar however, is not so perfect, but still pretty damn good. For the vast majority of the film grammatically it is perfect, but in places some sentences are badly structured, interupting the flow of the subtitles. Fortunately this is infrequent enough as to not become too annoying, but frequent enough to be noticed. All in all though these are very good subtitles, which I just wish was the case for all the older released Hong Kong DVDs.
The film print has it ups and downs. Almost constantly throughout the film small speckles flash up on screen in random places. In the most part these speckles are small, and appear to be on screen for a small fraction of a second. But every now and then amuch more noticable one would appear which had me thinking "Come on Universe, you did great subs, you could at least have cleaned the print up a bit!" If you get engrossed in the film, then you probably won't notice them that much, I certainly tried to stop noticing them, but as I was watching with this review in mind I was paying a bit more attention than I would have liked in places! On the plus side, the colours do come across as being very vibrant throughout. The three sisters always seem to be wearing a dress of a bright colour, be it purple, green or pink, and the colour really does look good on screen. The detail seemed pretty good, with nothing looking more blurred than I would have been expecting, so with that I was happy.
DVD and Extras
As is the case with most Hong Kong dvds, the menu for this film is static, and aside from your usual chapter selections, what you have got here is a rather short Amy Yip biography which if you don't actually know that much about her other than she is very well endowed, you will probably find quite interesting: I did. What was a nice touch with this is that the bio was in both Chinese and English, so I was actually able to read it, unlike with some other dvds I've seen! There are several trailers, none of which are subtitled, but that doesn't matter as there is very little speech contained in them anyway. The trailers are for Erotic Ghost Story II & III, Erotic Ghost Story: Perfect Match, Sex & Zen, and Sex & Zen III. There is also the original trailer for Erotic Ghost Story (I). Not too much, but certainly more than a large number of Hong Kong dvds out there.
While clearly being intended for adult audiences, and being primarily about sex, this is an enjoyable film. If you are reserved or a bit of a prude, then I think it is unlikely that you will like it, but for everyone else I'd say give it a watch. It is completely over the top, has crap special effects, but most importantly the story is not bad and it is funny. Just don't mistake it for A Chinese Ghost Story, or you will be surprised!