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Dumplings
Miriam Cheung and Bai Ling in Fruit Chan’s Dumplings (2004)

6 Classic Hong Kong horror movies that will add more spook to ghost month

These supernatural movie throwbacks will keep you up all night

By Time Out Hong Kong
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Hungry Ghost Festival – it is that time of the year in Chinese culture where spirits are released from the underworld through the gates of hell to roam around and walk among us. During this period, Chinese rituals like the burning of joss papers are performed on the streets, with superstitions and warnings abound. To get in the mood, we have compiled a list of some of the most classic horror movies in Hong Kong to add a little more spook to your ghost month. Get ready to cuddle under your blanket and watch the movies from this roundup of local throwback flicks that will keep you up all night. By Elaine Soh

RECOMMENDED: Want to watch something lighter? Check out 11 best Hong Kong romcoms or binge on any of the classic Stephen Chow movies

Classic Hong Kong horror movies

Dumplings (2004)

Don't be fooled by the innocent and unassuming title of this movie. Dumplings' true appeal lies in its niche style, employing nauseating rather than jump-scare horror. Unlike the typical Chinese horror movie with the usual cast of long-haired ghosts clad in a white robe, the film trades on the appalling and disturbing acts of chasing beauty. The story follows a middle-aged former actress Mrs Li (Miriam Yeung) and her ghastly approach to retaining her youth to keep her husband interested. Through contacts, she meets Aunt Mei (Bai Ling), a former gynaecologist who performed abortions and uses the fetuses as filling for dumplings – apparently the secret to the fountain of youth. The two both begin scheming to attain the best quality ingredient for their dumpling fillings. We are not going to spoil it for you, but what we can say is that the intensity of this stomach-churning movie will surely turn you off from dumplings for quite a while.   

The Eye (2002)

 

Having a working pair of eyes is what many people take for granted, but not for the 20-year old violinist Wong Kar Mun (Lee Sin-Je), who finally regained her eyesight after a successful cornea transplant operation. However, troubles follow when she starts seeing apparitions and experiencing ghostly encounters. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, the most unforgettable – and scariest – clip throughout the entire movie is the famous elevator scene – Kar Mun's creepy encounter with an old man's ghost. The nifty slow-motion technique showing the spirit closing in on her while she anxiously waits to get out of the claustrophobic space sure makes a 30-second lift ride seem like a torturous eternity. The movie, which spawned a 2008 Hollywood remake, still makes us think twice about entering an empty lift alone.  

 

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Rigor Mortis (2013)

Hopping zombies, long-haired girls in white robes, kung fu actions, and black magic – Rigor Mortis is filled with Asian horror folktales that have just the right amount of terror to keep us at the edge of the seat. A modern twist and tribute to the 1980s Mr Vampire series, the story revolves around the old franchise's co-star Chin Siu Ho, who plays himself in the film as a down-and-out and depressed horror film actor who just moved into a decrepit flat building to make ends meet. His failed suicide attempt ended up with spirits possessing his body, here comes Yau, a retired vampire hunter, who helped him exorcise the spirits. Chin Siu Ho later realized that he is in a haunted-apartment and living amongst eccentric neighbours. The film's slow pacing and ghoulish special effects make the movie intense, and poignant that you'd have to fight the uneasiness as you follow through the story. 

The Imp (1981)

Combine Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, and you get The Imp. Yes, the movie revolves around possession, reincarnation, and a sinister plot for an unborn baby. After taking up a job as a night-watch guard at a commercial building, Keung begins to encounter strange incidents, which include his colleagues dying one by one and a malicious imp possessing his unborn baby. Filled with an ominous mood and impending doom, this twisted and disturbing film will have you hanging on the edge of your seat in a cold sweat. 

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Troublesome Night (1997)

While this low-budget film is not particularly terrifying, it is definitely the most popular and longest horror film series in Hong Kong, spawning 19 sequels between 1997 to 2003. Rather than gory horror elements, this movie centres on strange ghost occurrences in the haunted streets of Hong Kong. It features four loosely connected stories – starting with a teenager's encounter with a mysterious woman near a grave, followed by another story of a character who loses her way while trying to call her husband, then a romantic affair between a girl and a ghost, and finally, the last story sees a group of friends visiting a haunted movie theatre. These comedic horror tales are not exactly hair-tingling binge watch but definitely entertaining to watch. 

Three (2002)

This horror film consists of three omnibus segments – MemoriesThe Wheel, and Going Home – by Asian directors from Korea, Thailand, and Hong Kong. While there are no ghosts in the movie, the stories are filled with creepy Asian folktales that explore the supernatural and the dark side of humanity. The Hong Kong story,  Going Home, follows Yu (Leon Lai), and his obsession in preserving the body of his wife in order to resurrect her through Chinese medicine. The movie is filled with disturbing visuals and dramatic plot twists that guarantees a harrowing experience for your ghost festival. 

Binge on these classics

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