MIFF 2014 – The Imp (1981)

Director: Dennis Yu
Starring: Charlie Chin Chiang Lin, Kent Cheng Jak Si, Dorothy Yu Yee Ha, Yueh Hua, Chan Shen, Hui Bing Sam, Jim Sam Sing Tak, Wong Ching, Wong Chung, Fung King Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4PZyJ3ORQ8

Keung (Charlie Chin Chiang Lin) is having a run of bad luck and can’t seem to keep a job to support his pregnant wife. The people around him even seem to suffer as one job interview he attends his cancelled due to a killing spree by a former employee just before he arrives. He would have a lot of trouble applying for 40 jobs per month under these circumstances.

By chance or some evil plans he ends up applying for a job at a yet to be completed shopping mall and office complex (the chandelier reminded me of the one from Police Story) with a gang of other guards including Old Uncle Han (Chang Shen) and the ever enjoyable Fatty (Kent Cheng).

He starts to see weird things, but the other guards tell them to ignore them, that is until one of the guards ends up dying under mysterious circumstances and they have to seek the help of a Geomancer (Elliot Ngok) who tells him he was born under a bad sign and the evil spirit is trying to be reincarnated as his wife’s baby. Will they succeed in stopping it or not?

This screened as part of the “Haunted Midnight” program at MIFF and is different to other horror films from around the era as the focus was not on blood and gore as with western slasher movies, but in setting the scene and the belief in the spiritual practices in every day life that are something people really live with.

While the techniques used are very simple, with just red and green lights and dry ice they can create a spooky atmosphere. They do combine to create something unique and show that you don’t even need to show what is killing people for it to be spooky. At one point a character gets suffocated by a newspaper (probably the part with Andrew Bolt’s column) and they don’t actually say what kills some of the people.

My favourite character in the movie is Fatty (Kent Cheng) especially his two-part red t-shirt with while letters “Am I a girl?”, “No! I am a man!”) that he wears with red short-shorts with white piping.

While there are other Hong Kong horror movies I would recommend before this one, it is still worth your time if you have seen a lot of other ones before.

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