'These are rough times,' a woman is told before being raped and killed for her money and jewellery. The woman then returns as a ghost to exact revenge. Sex Beyond The Grave (1984) could have been a creepy and thrilling movie but it is merely rendered comical. Still the curvaceous female ghost is something to wow about. Stephen Tan reviews.

THE ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW

It's World War II and singer Kwong Mei Bo is on the run with her husband and son. Seeking refuge at the Tao mansion, they are betrayed by old master Tao. Kwong is raped by the Japanese commander and her family killed. Seeing a shocked Kwong, old master Tao takes advantage of the situation and rapes Kwong before killing her for her money and jewels. The old man says "Don't be too sad. These are rough times... That Japanese is ruthless..." before penetrating her from behind." When he's finished with her, he adds: "Being a woman is not easy..." Needless to say, with her dying breath, Kwong vows vengeance on the old man.

Flash forward to the present. Goo Goon Chung is a descendant of the Tao family and is a diehard gambler. To settle his debts, he sells the dilapidated Tao mansion to Liu Yung and his family (wife Chin Wai Yee and son Leung Jun Git). Strange things start to happen after Liu moves into the mansion - family and friends levitate in the air, Chin is attacked by the fridge, and son gets sucked into another dimension via an old well. Thanks to the help of an exorcist, the family is reunited but not before Goo takes off with Kwong's jewel case.


Kwong Mei Bo (left) gets her clothes torn off by Japanese commandant (played by Ko Fei).

Before he can clear his debts, Goo runs into Kwong and the two end up having sex. During their lovemaking, Goo accidentally looks into the mirror and realises he is having sex with a ghost.

The title, Sex Beyond The Grave (1984), is enticing enough and the opening rape scene - though nothing is revealed - helps sets the mood. Then right smack in the middle of the movie, Goo the gambler has a windfall and is introduced to a Las Vegas showgirl who does a strip dance for him. Like Hex with its nude dance tagged at the end, the nude dance here only adds to the sexism of the movie. The more erotic moment is the steamy sex between Goo and Kwong, but it is soon marred by the attempt to make it silly and comedic (after Goo discovers he is dealing with a ghost... or is that seeding a ghost?).


Goo Goon Chung... up close and direct.

And that seems to be the problem with the movie - it doesn't know whether to be serious or a comedy; an adult movie or family fare; melodramatic or sexy or just plain exploitative. That two directors - Chiu Chun-keung and Li Tai-heng - worked on this might suggest there were some production problems involved (after all, this is no cast-of-a-thousand Water Margin epic) and the resulting movie is somewhat patchy. The whole bit about Goo meeting a blind fortune-teller and his acquiring a spirit tablet (housing a female spirit) seems like a retelling of Kuei Chih-hung's Hex Vs Witchcraft (1980) but the storyline here is never concluded satisfactorily.

While Liu Yung adds star power to the movie, his bumbling scientist's family under (demonic) siege, though mainly played for laughs, is Poltergeist all over again and it is actually Kwong Mei Bo who delivers the acting chops - from rape victim to vengeful ghost. But then, given the film's messy narrative, it is finally Kwong's body that holds your interest.

Note: Sex Beyond The Grave (IVL/Celestial) is only available on VCD and is banned in $ingapore.





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November 21, 2006








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