I’m not entirely sure which came first — Erotic Ghost Story’s (relative) infamy or its constant repeat screenings on late night television, but in the end I don’t think it really matters. The fact that it plays every six months on SBS (and now every six weeks on cable) would suggest that it continues to reach some kind of audience, right? The are other, more famous examples (Sex and Zen) of the ‘genre’ that Erotic Ghost Story is more or less responsible for creating, but none so widely viewed in this country at least.
In the early nineties there was a move to legitimise Category III soft-core by beefing up the production values with some kind of formal-historical element — think Caligula without Peter O’Toole. Hong Kong cinema was coming into vogue with Western cineastes at more or less the same time, and it was sucked right up accordingly. Here was a chance to justify the watching of pornography on cultural grounds… because it’s in Cantonese! Admittedly Erotic Ghost Story is a little milder than some of what followed (A Chinese Torture Chamber Story features, among other things, a wire-fu sex scene, and after Sex and Zen you’ll never look at a calligraphy brush the same way again), but porn is still porn. The legitimate angle must have stuck though, because here we are, thirteen years later…
Don’t let any of that put you off. MildER, not MILD. Erotic Ghost Story is Cat. III for a reason, so despite its historical pretensions, the traditional costumes don’t… costume very much and it does star Amy ‘psycho hose beast’ Yip.
Ultimately, this isn’t a particularly sensible film to review because you’re either going to watch it or you’re not, and that decision can more or less be made on the title (even if the film switches gear in the last ten minutes so that the ‘Ghost’ bit actually means something). If demons, nipples, etc. are your bag then by all means, go for it. Otherwise I’d recommend it only if you want to give (a)moral support to the quiet subversion of our national television standards and make sure it’s on again in another six months!
My conscience isn’t going to let me attach a number to this one, because whether I rate it a 1 or a 10 I’m not sure I’d be being entirely honest with you. That said, I’m a big fan of cheap laughs, so this time Erotic Ghost Story scores a pair… I mean, two… oh, forget it.