Spooky Encounters

Spooky Encounters (1980)
Tai Seng Video Marketing
Cast: Samo Hung, Chung Fat
Extras: Trailers, Production Notes

Chinese horror films are always an interesting blend that is very different from the American horror fare. Horrific and explicit, these films are typically also quite humorous and more importantly laden with terrific action sequences. ’Spooky Encounters’ is no difference in this aspect. It is an exciting fright film, directed and written by Samo Hung, in which he also plays the main part as Cheung, a simple-minded braggard, who takes a bet to spend one night in a haunted temple. He doesn’t know that he idea behind the bet is to kill him. His unfaithful wife’s lover hires an evil sorcerer to raise the dead and kill Cheung. But Cheung gets some unexpected help and manages to survive – only to take on another bet, to do it once again…

’Spooky Encounters’ is fun to watch and covers practically the entire palette of Chinese horror elements, including hopping vampires and flesh eating zombies, along with flying undead and plenty of black magic. Samo pulls the film off easily, using his trademark humor to take the horrific edge off the film – to very good effect. Apart from some frightening moments, the film is not too gruesome for the most part and makes for highly enjoyable watching.

Of course, ’Spooky Encounters’ also contains plenty of martial arts. Seeing a hopping vampire perform these Kung Fu stances is not only unusual, but the actor performing them must have had amazing body control to create the robotic precision and explosive energy that we see on the screen. The final showdown is simply spectacular, and I promise you, then ending of the film will hit you with a stunning surprise.

’Spooky Encounters’ is coming to DVD from Media Asia and is available as an import through Tai Seng. The non-anamorphic widescreen transfer is generally good, although a number of speckles and scratches are evident in the print used. The film also shows quite a bit of grain, but neither is becoming overly distracting for the actual viewing experience. The presentation is good with good looking colors, although the colors are a bit inconsistent throughout the film. Once the film gets in to the realm of the ’ghostly’ supernatural, colors are bold and well saturated. Blacks are very deep and solid, giving the image a lot of depth, although in some instances the transfer appears overly dark. The compression is good, mostly without distracting artifacts, such as pixelation, although the fairly low bitrate used in the transfer loses some of the original image detail.
The DVD contains audio tracks in Mandarin and Cantonese, as well as a variety of subtitles, including English. The translation is good and mostly without notable errors.

’Spooky Encounters’ is a fun movie to watch and comes highly recommended for everyone who wants to familiarize himself with the Chinese horror genre. Using many of that genre’s elements, it gives viewers a general overview over Hong Kong horror, and serves as a great example for the exciting way the genre is treated in other parts of the world. Check it out!