(“Red Dwarf Ghost”)
Production: Hong Kong, 1983
Director: Titus Ho Wing-Lam
English title: Red Spells Red
Category: Horror/Black Magic
One of the most rare and extreme Hong Kong horror films of the early 80s, belonging to that small cluster of reptile, insect and arachnid revulsion freakshows that only those with strong stomachs can tolerate. Ho’s one and only film as director (he was mainly a producer) sees him cram in as much weirdness as possible, starting with preliminary scenes of a sorcerer in Borneo, in the year 1919, casting hexes and eviscerating live frogs, until a gang of masked assassins burst into the underground dungeon and, killing the sorcerer after a black magic duel, bury the corpse in a stone sarcophagus. The film then fast forwards to present day, where a group of ethnographers from Hong Kong are opening up the long-sealed chamber in search of the legendary Red Dwarf Ghost. Naturally their meddling unleashes a curse, prompting a series of bloody murders, more sorcery with snakes, amputations, and torture, all signalled by a plague of deadly black scorpions. A girl suspected of witchcraft is stripped half-naked and spread-eagled so her vagina can be lowered onto a burning candle. A man takes a live chicken and bites into its body, pulling out its entrails with his teeth while it thrashes in his grasp, then he eats it raw and alive. There are also some particularly gruelling animal torture scenes involving the slow carving up, throat-slitting and disembowelling of screaming baby pigs, as well as cock-fighting sequences. In perhaps the film’s most notable segment, it anticipates the preoccupations of 1990s J-Horror by showing a film, shot by the ethnographers, to be haunted by the vengeful Red Dwarf Ghost, causing a film editor to hallucinate that his fingers are ground down to bloody stumps. At the film’s equally bizarre climax, a cursed girl’s body opens holes that gives vent to live scorpions as a Tibetan monk, summoned to drive out the hex, engages the Red Dwarf in magic battle. Skull-smashing, exorcism by water-torture, and scores of scorpions burned alive are the highlights of this culminatory conflagration.

Posted by Graf Mitternacht

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