Seeding of a Ghost [種鬼] (1983)
Starring Norman Chu Siu-Keung, Phillip Ko Fei, Wai Ka-Man, Maria Yuen Chi-Wai, Wong Yung, Wai Yee-Yan, Hung San-Nam, Tin Mat, Pak Man-Biu
Directed by Yang Chuan
Expectations: High, can’t wait to see what they cooked up for this one!
This is why you don’t fuck with black magic. Seeding of a Ghost opens with a black magic practitioner digging up some graves, y’know as black magic practitioners do, but a raging group of people come over the hill and try to catch him and stop him. He runs off, only to be hit by a passing taxi, but when the driver gets out to see if the guy’s alright, he’s gone. When he gets back in the car, the guy’s in the back seat ready for a ride, and he tells the taxi driver that it’s his bad luck to run into him today… maybe you’ll only be sick, but you and your family might also die. Seems like a wide range of possibilities there and reason enough to stay far away from the black arts!
It’s been much too long since I’ve reviewed a Chinese black magic movie, and what better time to get back on the train than October? Prior to this, I’ve only seen two movies in this sub-genre, but goddamn if they aren’t two movies that burned holes directly into my soul. I remember them like I watched them yesterday, and their crazy shenanigans are usually close to the surface of my mind. I don’t know what that says about me, that I’m thinking of black magic practitioners drinking the blood of unborn fetuses to refuel, or flying alien heads with spaghetti-like spines flailing around, but I like it. These movies are unique, special and incredibly entertaining, and while Seeding of a Ghost is definitely not at the same level as those two films, it’s still quite fun.
The film does open somewhat slowly by choosing to focus on the taxi driver’s wife, who works as a casino dealer, and her affair with a rich high roller. In the past I might have seen this as boring and wondered what exactly this had to do with seeding ghosts, but I now recognize it as a setup for two devious adulterers to get seriously fucked up, black magic style. The film throws a bit of a curveball at the viewers, though, and instead of simply aiming the magic at these two, it shifts and becomes something different. To explain it further would be to spoil it, and as this film is actually readily available through Netflix and other US retailers, I don’t think I should be too candid about the plot.
I will say that if you have a general rule not to watch a movie with fairly graphic necrophilia, then you should definitely find another film to watch. But for those unshy about such things, and if you’re watching black magic movies you really need to keep your mind open to the possibilities of anything occurring on-screen, Seeding of a Ghost delivers the goods. In addition to some creepy necrophilia, there’s also an unforgettable scene when the ghost gets revenge by spirit-fucking her assailant. And we all know what unprotected sex leads to, so of course there’s an incredible demon baby, unlike anything you’ve seen before on-screen (even if it does kind of remind me of John Carpenter’s The Thing). I’ve probably said too much, but when it comes to these movies, it’s more about the actual visuals than having something vaguely described to you.
One of my favorite aspects of Bewitched were the incredible magic battles between the Buddhist monk and the black magician. They are easily the best representation of a magic battle I’ve ever seen in a movie. Seeding of a Ghost has one scene involving a similar fight, but instead of being a long, push and pull of intense magicians constantly one-upping each other, it’s a fairly quick battle that doesn’t seem all that hard-fought. But that being said, I still greatly enjoyed it, as anytime people are literally throwing around fireballs, especially ones that look as good as these, I’m happy.
If I had seen this film first, I’m sure I would’ve been more impressed with it, but up against the one-two punch of Bewitched and The Boxer’s Omen, Seeding of a Ghost just doesn’t live up. Regardless, it’s an incredibly fun film that I enjoyed greatly, made with skill and containing more than its share of wild, gross-out moments. It managed to shock me into fits of laughter multiple times, and as that’s pretty much exactly what I’m looking for in a Chinese witchcraft movie, I was quite pleased.
Not a trailer, but it gives you a good idea what you’re in for.