Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Yin and Yang of Ghost Movies

Seven Signs You’re In a Horror Movie (FROM THE ROUGH GUIDE TO CULT MOVIES)
1) If you’re a teenager and you have sex, you will be dead before the night is over.
2) Any character shouting, “Is anyone there” will discover that, yes, someone is there, and they have a big axe/ gun/ knife and now know where to find you. Similarly, anyone who says, “I’ll be right back” clearly won’t.
3) The “he looks dead so I’ll stop running and stand near him” ruse, where the killer is just waiting before making the audience jump one last time. Surely, no one would be surprised by this “twist” any more?
4) At the end the killer is clearly dead – except there is one really final scene hinting he may nonetheless recover from multiple gunshot wounds and a beheading, just in case the movie is a hit and someone subsequently decided to cash in with a sequel.
5) Young women with big breasts running away from the murderer will always stumble (Is this a gravity thing?)
6) A bad guy is viciously stabbing, maiming and slaughtering people because his mother doesn’t love him
7) If you’ve escaped the maniac, reached the car and found your car keys, rest assured that the engine won’t start first time. Or second time. But just as he reaches you and hacks through the soft-top, that dead battery/ lost connection rights itself and you escape – with your assailant in the backseat.

CLEARLY CHINESE GHOST MOVIES ARE MUCH, MUCH BETTER (This time from SEX & ZEN AND A BULLET IN THE HEAD: The Essential Guide to Hongkong’s Mindbending Films)

Ten Things We’ve Learned from Watching Hong Kong’s Supernatural Films
1) Fierce ghosts and vampires can be subdued by affixing Taoist charms – written in red ink on yellow paper – to their foreheads. But the temptation to play with these immobilized ghoulies (push them, insult them etc) is completely irresistible and completely unadvised…
2) …Because if you taunt or belittle a subdued ghoul, the chances that the charmed paper will come off – restoring the monster’s lethality – are 100 percent.
3) Witches’ heads just won’t stay on. If they’re not accidentally getting chopped off in battle, they’re purposely being shucked with a neck-toss. In either case, witch opponents get preoccupied with the disembodied heads, which fly around howling and trying to bite. But you also can’t ignore the headless body, which always hops up and gets into the fight!
4) Humans have yang energy, the dead are yin-heavy. Since human men have more yang-energy than human women, they are a prime target for the seductive powers of female ghosts. Whether the ghost’s motives are noble or duplicitous, this kind of love never ever works out. As a Taoist priest puts it in The Golden Swallow, “There’s no love between man and ghost, Sonny.”
5) Born under a bad sign? Stars crossed in your horoscope? Sorcerers and Taoist priests shrug their shoulders; they can predict your fate, but can’t change it. Even if you started out as a hero in the film, if the geomancer says trouble ahead, you better stock up on incense and Hell Bank Notes, because you are done for.
6) When the exorcist asks for sticky rice, he damn well means sticky rice. Sticky rice is an active ingredient in poltergeist poultices. Regular rice is a spurious (and dangerous) substitute, often sneaked into the rice bag by dishonest salesmen because they’re cheaper. The consequences can be dire.
7) The Chinese word for number four sounds like the word for “death.” So don’t count on finding four in Hong Kong hospitals or dining at a restaurant called The Four Seasons! On the other hand, the number eight is considered quite lucky, and you can spot it everywhere, from billboards to personalized license plates.
8) If your pet fish die, expect trouble.
9) Ghoul knowledge: a) Ghouls can’t see humans, but they can spot them by smelling their breaths. If you hold your breath, you are invisible to a vampire. But he will put his blue face about an inch from you nose and sniff furiously! b) The undead hop (or glide) only in straight line along the floor. This is why Chinese temples often have a threshold you must step over, and why pawnshops have a screen directly in front of the entrance. Many a terrified human has received a reprieve when the vampire chasing them simply couldn’t hop a log or high curb. c) Chinese zombies are Chinese first, and zombies second. They’ll repel any unwanted foreigners before biting the locals. D) Chinese child-vampires are children first, and vampires second. Human children recognize this, and shield them from meddling adults. In Mr. Vampire Part II, kids try to protect a kid-corpse by claiming that he’s an illegal alien from the mainland.
10) No monster is ever really finally dead until it explodes.

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