So I watched a few horror films over these past few days but none were really worth talking about (cough hellboy cough) so I took my time with this post until I found something I actually enjoyed. And this was right up my alley.
Encounters of the spooky kind is a Hong Kong martial arts horror comedy that is directed, written by and stars Sammo Hung (who I am a big fan of). It tells the story of Cheung, a man that is known to be fearless and willing to do everything. Unfortunately for him, his wife is cheating on him with his boss, who devises a plan to get rid of him and hires a shaman to do it.
The shaman tricks him into going to an abandoned temple where he needs to spend the night by betting that he is too scared to do it. Once there, the shaman reanimates a Jiangshi (chinese jumping zombie) and sends him after Cheung. And thus begins the physical and mystical fight to save Cheung’s life.
Now as you would expect, this movie hangs heavier on the comedy side rather than the horror side but that does not mean that there were not any decent horror scenes. Sammo knows what he is doing and does it well. At a time, the movie reminded me very much of Viy, both protagonists need to stay in a haunted building with a creature coming out of a coffin and survive the night. Which made me think, was it just a coincidence that I am looking into too much, or did Sammo take inspiration from the story? I tried to look at the book that Viy was based on to see if it was inspired by some old folk tale but not, so the possibility of them both being inspired by some old story is slim.
One of my favorite parts of the film were the scenes with the shaman and the rituals. To be fair I am a sucker for scenes like that, like the scene from The Wailing that is my favorite, this one was not as good but still very entertaining. It’s always interesting to see how old superstitions and rituals work and how they are performed. Of course those scenes can’t compare with a scene like the one in The Wailing, the acting (much in like the entire movie) is over the top and exaggerated but it works in the movie so it is a strong side rather than a weak point. That’s why I loved it. It knows its strengths and it works perfectly. Mixing multiple genres like this that we do not see that often is hard so this is no Oscar worthy movie but that does not mean that it is bad, far from it.
If you are looking for something that will scare you this won’t be it, but if you want a good horror comedy with great action this movie is a must. It’s a shame that this blend of genres did not become more popular but there are a bunch of other films like this that I will be watching soon.
Final verdict: 7/10