The ghosts do not rest easy in the dreams of Courageous Chung; they are chatty, troublesome and persistent – and hungry. Challenged by his friends to spend the night in an abandoned house, their intention is to scare him by pretending to be the very ghosts he fears, but in doing so accidentally awaken a real ghost, a prelude to even stranger events…
Originally released in 1980 and now presented on Blu-ray in a brand new 2K restoration as part of Eureka’s Classics range, Encounter of the Spooky Kind (Gui da gui, 鬼打鬼) was directed by Sammo Hung from a script co-written with Huang Ying, described by Frank Djeng in his commentary as “a ground-breaking classic of the Hong Kong supernatural horror Kung Fu black comedy genre.”
Also known as Spooky Encounters and Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind, this does not undersell the film which blends the physical skills of the Hong Kong film industry with the manic energy of Evil Dead while spinning the traditions of Chinese ghost stories around a narrative which draws on the history of western folklore, much of it mirroring the structure of Gogol’s Viy with a bit of Cinderella thrown in.
Forced to spend several nights in the abandoned house to defeat the rising spirits in an escalating war of nerves and tactics, Courageous Chung (Hung of course playing the lead) is targeted by his employer Master Tam (Wong Ha), an unscrupulous scoundrel who is having an affair with Chung’s wife (Leung Suet-mei), who has engaged Daoist Maoshan Master Chin (Chan Lung) to raise the dead to eliminate him before he can prove the infidelity.
Chung pursued by zombies and a police inspector (Lam Ching-ying) who believes he has murdered his wife, Encounter of the Spooky Kind is perhaps not as crazed as Mr. Vampire which followed it five years later, also starring Lam Ching-ying and Huang Ha, but matches it in inventiveness and physical daring in the extended fight scenes, all the performers adept, fearless and apparently inexhaustible.
Culminating in a final confrontation to establish supremacy which is in equal parts epic and ridiculous, Djeng’s commentary provides much insight not only into the production but also the nuance and innuendo of the original dialogue which is lost in the literal translations, Encounter of the Spooky Kind as much a bawdy comedy as a horror film, the latter a niche genre for Hong Kong audiences which Hung looked to expand beyond with an unrelenting assault on multiple fronts.