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艷女還魂 (1974)
The Ghost Lovers

Reviewed by: ororama
Date: 06/25/2020

The Ghost Lovers focuses on romance, with a bit of comedy, but too little of the horror that its title promises. Young aristocrat Han is ready to enter into marriage with wealthy Lienhua, which had been
arranged by their late parents in their early childhood. Unfortunately, he arrives too late for the fading
Lienhua, but her servant uses extreme measures to try to secure her mistress' eternal happiness. Former Han family servants attempt to protect Han from the ghosts with often comic results, and nine men attempt to impersonate Han in order to collect his bride's fortune, which does result in a few eerie, though not terrifying, moments.

The movie attempts only mild comic scares, instead offering a melancholy love story of a young
woman doomed to lose her chance of earthly happiness, seeking redemption of her dreams through love.
The romance is undercut by the fact that the couple were essentially strangers to each other during life. Real dedication is shown by servants who forego their own interests in favor of the well being of their longtime masters.

The movie does offer an interesting variation from the common revenge story typically seen in ghost films, creating an elegiac mood which is much closer to the ghost story in Ugetsu than the 1980s Hong Kong horror comedies to come.

Reviewed by: Stephe
Date: 10/31/2014

The Ghost Lovers is rather unusual in a number of ways besides the
fact that is was only released on VCD. I have watched over 200 Shaw
Brothers film, and yet I recognized only two of the actors in this one
(Li Ching and Wong Ching-Ho).

In the first half of the movie, Li Ching lies near death due to an
incurable illness, and her wet nurse awaits the arrival of her charge's
matchmade fiance because she wants Li Ching to marry him before she
dies. The fiance is waylaid and robbed en route, however, and taken in
by a greedy neighbor. By the time the neighbor learns who he is, Li
Ching has died, and multiple imposters pretending to be him arrive to
claim Li Ching's inheritance. The fiance is too ashamed to see Li Ching
because the money he had been robbed of was meant to repay a debt to her
family, but the greedy neighbor tries to manipulate him into claiming
her inheritance.

The imposters are all scared away when Li Ching appears to move
whenever one of them attempts something untoward at her wake. In
dispair, the wet nurse kills herself in order to accompany Li Ching and
help her marry her fiance in death.

The second half of the film details the wet nurse's attempts to
marry Li Ching to her fiance, while the greedy neighbor tries to
disentangle the fiance from the ghosts for his own gain. The neighbor
fears not gaining access to the fiance's inheritance almost more than he
fears the ghosts. Being told that the fiance could die if he loses too
much of his life force to the ghosts, the greedy neighbor hires priests
to banish the ghosts but they are repelled by the wet nurse.

Quite uncharacteristically, there is a happy ending where Li Ching
is able to marry her fiance and even consummate the union and so go to
Heaven fulfilled, a ghost no more, while the fiance gets his inheritance
and the greedy neighbor sees the error of his ways.

I like movies where the ghost is the good guy and triumphs in the
end. Another Shaw Brothers film where this happens is the markedly less
romantic but very good Revenge of the Corpse.

Li Ching always looks good in period costume, but I believe this is
the only film I've seen her in where she is more sickly and mournful
than cheery and zestful while exuding poise and elegance. The last
quarter of The Mermaid and the second half of Susanna come close, but
neither of these two films present her as an ethereal, longing spirit.
I am reminded of Linda Lin Dai in The Lotus Lamp and Betty Loh Tih in
The Enchanting Shadow. The Ghost Lovers is not as good as either of
those two films, and neither is Li Ching's performance in contrast to
the other two actresses, but I think she was the perfect choice for the
role, and the film makes the most of her screen presence.

Reviewer Score: 5