• Enchanting Ghost, The



    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: February 26th, 2018.
    Director: Hsu Chiang Chou
    Cast: Mei-Yao Chang, Li Hua Yang, Hsiang Ting Ko
    Year: 1970
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    The Movie:

    Those expecting the over the top insanity of better known Shaw Brothers horror films made later in the seventies and in the early eighties might be disappointed with director Hsu Chiang Chou’s 1970 film The Enchanting Ghost. For a large part of its running time the film plays more like a romance with heavy doses of melodrama thrown in – but if you stick with it, it does build to a pretty satisfying conclusion.

    The story around a student named Yuzhu (Li Hua Yang) who is kicked out of the family home when he discovers that his uncle Zhongyuan is in cahoots with a town official named Shi in a plan to use forged documents to illegally claim ownership of the home that his recently deceased brother left behind. Rather than live on the streets, Yuzhu decides instead to basically squat in the abandoned home of the Xiaolin, reportedly haunted by the spirit of the daughter that starved to death within its walls when the rest of her family committed suicide.

    After setting up shop in the eerie old house, Yuzhu starts to experience just what you’d expect in a supposedly haunted house – weird noises, cobwebs and spooky singing – but he starts to get even more freaked out when he sees a mysterious woman roaming about. It turns out this isn’t the ghost he expected but a woman named Ruyu (Mei-Yao Chang) who has also been squatting, along with her sick mother. When her mother passes away, Yuzhu insists that Ruyu stick around – after all, she doesn’t really have anywhere else to go and soon enough they’re married. To make ends meet, Yuzhu occasionally sells clothes that Ruyu makes in the nearby village, which of course leads the superstitious villagers to wonder if he hasn’t been ‘enchanted’ by the ghost that supposedly still haunts the Xiaolin home. And then Zhongyuan and Shi show up, convinced that Yuzhu is out to put a stop to their plan, out to silence him for good…

    A large majority of The Enchanting Ghosts concentrates on the romance between Yuzhu and Ruyu, which would be all well and good if it were a particularly interesting romance… but it isn’t. That said, if you can look past that aspect of the production, there’s enough here likely to be of interest to those Shaw Brothers devotees who appreciate the studio’s genre fare to make it worth checking out. As you’d expect, the Xioalin home is a pretty atmospheric set, ripe with lots of shadowy interiors and interesting architecture. Additionally, the costuming for the movie is up to the Shaw Brothers’ typically high standards and is frequently interesting to look at. If the story has some pacing issues (and it does), at least things ramp up considerably in the last third of its running time. Without going into spoiler territory, there’s a few interesting twists that take place later in the film and which do a better job of anchoring it in genre territory than the hour that precedes it.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Enchanting Ghost arrives on Region B Blu-ray from 88 Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen on a 25GB disc. The color reproduction is decent here, brighter colors really pop, while black levels stay pretty solid. Detail is advances over what DVD could have provided quite handily but stops a bit short of reference quality and a little on the flat side at times. As it is with a lot of Shaw Brothers titles on Blu-ray, it seems that some mild to moderate noise reduction has been applied (resulting in some slightly waxy looking skin tones and a noticeable lack of grain) and things do look a bit soft for that reason. The image is otherwise pristine, showing virtually no print damage.

    The LPCM 2.0 Chinese language track on this release is fine. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced. The optional English subtitles, which appear in white texts, are easy to read.

    There are no extras on the disc outside of a basic menu, but inside the case is an insert booklet of liner notes from Lingge Dong entitled Truly Enchanting that provide some welcome background information on the film as well as some social and cultural details that tie into some of the events in the film. Well worth a read.

    The Final Word:

    The Enchanting Ghost isn’t the best of the Shaw Brothers horror films – if you can even technically call it a horror film – but it has interesting elements to it and fans of the studio’s genre output should appreciate seeing this somewhat rare entry presented in a nice high definition presentation.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!