Watching Shaw Brother’s 1980 anthology last night I was struck by the remarkable difference in the approach to superstition between the West and the East.
Both culture have a health dose of ghosts and spirits and mean-spirited dead beings but the way they are depicted in popular culture differs so very drastically.
As a lover of anthology films I have a soft spot for all of the Amicus catalogue. And last night’s marvel was very reminiscent of the output of this fine studio.
However there was something of an urgency to the two stories on show as well as a wilder approach to the sense of dread.
Neither of the stories wasted time in bringing to the fore the crux of the story: in the first instance a newlywed couple who experience strange pohenema and in the second a caretaker who encounters ‘a fox spirit’.
The first film also had a delightful sense of set design with the newlyweds house resembling an assault course – but with good reason which was explained later.
The second film had a terrific ‘money corrupts’ message behind it and proceeded to drive it home with some of the sleaziest acts known to mankind topped off with cruel punishment of the surprising kind.
Both stories clocked in at 45 minutes and both managed to surprise drastically: just when I thought I was getting a handle on the action, another curveball would throw me completely off.
Whereas ghosts and spirits are kept at bay in the Western culture, they seemed to be part of the life here – still malevolent perhaps but also much more prominent. Ditto a moral code from the spirits far beyond our deserved-revenge scenario.
All in all a charming evening.