21 November 2017

88 FILMS PRESENTS: THE BRIDE FROM HELL. (1972) A CHINESE GHOST STORY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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THE BRIDE FROM HELL. (1972) PRODUCTION COMPANY: THE SHAW BROTHERS. STARRING MARGARET HSING HUI, YANG FANG AND GOT SIU-BO. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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I bloody loved this fabulously quaint old Chinese ghost story, produced by the Shaw Brothers and their film production company that had been established in Shanghai as far back as 1925, believe it or not. That's nearly a whopping hundred years ago.

Their family-owned company produced about one thousand films, and they were largely responsible for popularizing the kung-fu genre of martial arts movie. Speaking of which, modern day martial arts stars such as Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung would have gotten their starts in several Shaw Brothers pictures of the 'Seventies, although of course at that time, they weren't the household names they are today.

Right, you lovely people. That's enough background for ye. It's about all the information I have to hand, anyway, haha. It's time now to dip our delicate tootsies in to the misty, murky waters of THE BRIDE FROM HELL, an atmospheric horror story from Hong Kong along the lines of Britain's Hammer Horror movies and the Roger Corman/Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe collaborations from AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES that had made- and were making- such an impact on the horror fans of the day.

We're back in Ye Olden Days China for this one. It starts out promisingly enough when a young gentleman by the name of Nie Yunpeng and his portly but infinitely likeable servant Dahuozi spot what they immediately assume is a ghost, and a beautiful female ghost at that, standing on a cliff-top possible contemplating suicide. Being a couple of brave strong men, they naturally run away from the ghost crying like little girls. Well, nearly, anyway. Certainly they wimp out big-time. That much is true.

The next thing these two fool men get up to is they marry a couple-a broads who basically trick them into matrimony with their nudie female wiles and boy, are these chicks wily. And nudie. Very, very nudie. That bit's nice. Nie Yunpeng marries the beautiful Anu Feng, an orphan with no family, and the chubby servant Dahuozi gets hitched to Anu Feng's servant.

They've really done well for themselves, these two lads, as the women are remarkably easy on the eye and can presumably cook and clean as well, as was the lot of women of the time. The gals have gotten lucky too, mind you, marrying into Nie Yunpeng's well-off family and gaining the protection simultaneously of his name and the nice little fat cushion of his dosh.

The wedding ceremony of Nie Yunpeng involves an incredible amount of bowing, which is cute to see. The bride is wearing a blanket over her bonce so the relatives are all dying to get a look at her. When they finally clock her unblanketed kisser after the ceremony, they are horrified to see that she's the spitting image of a young woman who died in the town twenty years ago.

This unfortunate woman died after being stripped (stripped, mark you), raped and murdered by the same three robbers who had just offed her dear old parents. What gives it away, I wonder, her status as a ghost? The healthy green glow that appears to attach itself to poor Anu Feng wherever she walks? The superstitious villagers are beside themselves with shock.

Anu Feng is the living embodiment of the spirit of the poor murdered Feng Aijiao and there seems to be no getting away from the fact. And besides, an old Taoist master and feng-shui expert called Master Taiyi has already confirmed it, so there. A man with a configuration of moustaches as bizarre as Master Taiyi's couldn't possibly be lying.

The rest of the film seems to involve the villagers trying to protect themselves from the female ghost, trying to run her to earth and burn her or stone her to death (a pointless exercise, surely, as she's a ghost and therefore unkillable?), or just larking about in the mist and the mud trying to find her. 

The mist and fog are super-atmospheric and the skulls lying around the swamp add beautifully to the overall gothic effect but man, those villagers are a little, how shall we put it, dim. Unless they organise themselves a little more efficiently, they honestly couldn't catch the clap in a brothel. Seriously...

Dahuozi provides the comic relief with his worries as to whether his pretty new wife is a ghost like her mistress. If the mistress is a ghoul, then Dahuozi's missus must be one too and vice versa, that is, if Anu Feng is merely a human female and not a spirit, then ditto for Dahuozi's missus. 

His combinations and permutations while trying to puzzle this out are as funny as Peter Cushing making the word 'Dracula' out of 'Alucard' in the excellent Hammer movie DRACULA A.D. 1972. It's sweet and endearing and adorably funny but oh my God, d'uh...!

I also love the absolute willingness on the part of the Chinese people in the film to embrace the idea of the supernatural and treat it as if it's an everyday occurrence. Ghosts, demons, spooks, ghoulies, spirits, it's come-one, come-all as the villagers bring out their demon-catchers and their peach-wood swords (nope, I don't know either!) to bring this mildly mischievous female ghost under their control.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that this Ghost who's ever-so-lightly 'terrorising' the tiny village is also out for revenge, in fine I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE-style, against the three boyos who stripped her (yes, stripped...!), ravished her post-mortem (the dirty feckers!) and left her naked and bloodstained body lying in the bushes for the rats to nibble on twenty years ago.


Let's hope that these fine brave buckos have life insurance, because they'll all be bidding their loved ones a not-so-fond farewell if the green-faced Ghost Woman has her way. Make sure you lot all have front-row seats when she does. 

Brief nudity (female only, no wangs!) artistically enhances the look of this beautifully-shot Chinese chiller and I strongly suggest that you guys check it out. It's got my patented seal of approval and, anyway, it's got girlies-what-don't-have-no-clothes-on in it. If that alone doesn't sell it to y'all, y'all gotta real big problem...! 

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    AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com