Emilie Yueh-yu Yeh and Neda Hei-tung Ng, Hong Kong Baptist University, Magic, Medicine, Cannibalism: the China Demon in Hong Kong Horror, English/22 pages, April 2008


Horror, or ghost film, has had a long tradition in Hong Kong film. Zombie pictures
(jiangzhi pian) once took the center stage during the boom days of Hong Kong
cinema in the 1980s. In early 2000, with Applause Pictures taking the lead to
capitalize on the phenomenal success of J-horror, ghost films re-emerged as a
highly marketable genre. But this horror resurrection has less to do with recycling
previous narrative or stylistic formula than an urge to remake horror relevant to
contemporary Hong Kong psyche.

Inspired by the critical work on Hong Kong's identity politics produced in the late
1990s, this paper examines two signature films from Applause PicturesˇXThree:
Going Home (2002) and Three Extremes: Dumplings (2004), with respect to their
new treatment of ghosts and ghostly body as latent representations of Hong Kong's
desire for and fear of China.

The mythical and ghostly presence of Chinese migrants is central to the narrative of
the two horror films but China is not at all negative when it comes to problems of
survival, competition and ambition. Here China re-surfaces as a desirable
alternative to overcome aging, illness and mortality. But this gift from China
(traditional Chinese medical practices) is quickly dissolved and transformed into a
monstrous invasion and occupation. Horror, in this regard, displaces the backlash
against overindulgence with youth, beauty and fitness, often regarded as excessive
trivia in capitalist culture.

In addition the paper investigates stylistic particulars of Hong Kong horror. It is
hoped that through thematic and stylistic analyses this paper will cover a wide range
of cinematic and cultural aspects of contemporary Hong Kong horror.