Encounters of the Spooky Kind: ”Being haunted by ghosts is better than sleeping with you.”

Year: 1980
Directed by Sammo Hung
Produced by Chan Pui-wah,Raymond Chow and Lau Chi-chong
Written by Sammo Hung and Huang Ying

Cast: Sammo Hung, Chung Fat, Wu Ma, Lam Ching-Ying, Peter Chan Lung, To Siu-Ming, Huang Ha, Leung Suet-Mei, Tai Bo, Cheung Ging-Boh, Yuen Miu, and Pang Yun-Cheung

Bold Cheung is well known as the local daredevil. His fate takes a turn for the worse when his boss who is having an affair with his wife hatches a bizarre plan to kill him involving magical rituals.

Sammo Hung has always had a bit of an innovative streak. Encounters of the Spooky Kind would jumpstart the creation of an entire subgenre featuring Chinese vampires. Others might have attempted it before but it was Sammo Hung that got it right.

Encounters of the Spooky Kind much like Mr. Vampire that would follow 5 years later is a near perfect brew of action comedy and horror. Sammo ditches a serious tone in favor of horror-fueled slapstick. Slapstick is no stranger to Cantonese humor. Sammo elevates the slapstick by incorporating his trademark hard-hitting choreography and the horror elements. Encounters of the Spooky Kind always hits its stride when these three parts are working in tandem. Sammo Hung’s compatriot Jackie Chan, is more known for playing boyish nice guys. Sammo Hung’s onscreen persona is less high-spirited. Instead, he prefers to be more of a wisecracker or an out of touch fool. The onscreen personas of Sammo Hung feel slightly more crude. So, I find that Sammo Hung’s storytelling has a bit more of an edge to it. Encounters of the Spooky Kind is generally a light-hearted picture yet underneath it, there is a tinge of mean-spiritedness.
Encounters of the Spooky Kind’s setpieces are its biggest standouts. Each of the set pieces is a clever infusion of the choreography and Taoist mysticism. The two are so seamlessly matched that the magic feels like a natural extension of the choreography. Since the special effects are so incorporated with the choreography, the minimalism of the special effects is even more effective. Encounters of the Spooky Kind must have been ham-stringed by budget issues because there is heavy use of stock music. Which is slightly distracting or amusing.

A spearheading classic that is executed well enough that it makes good on its promise of mixing horror and action comedy.

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