All Reviews, Horror, International Films, Japan


There’s an interesting (and quite humorous if you know any better) discussion going on at the message boards for another site. The “argument” goes something like this: All American films are crap, and all Asian films are spectacular. To the people who insist on this point of view, I proudly hold up a copy of this film – “Ghosts” – as an example of Asian film making that is spectacularly craptacular.

“Ghosts” has an interesting premise: The villagers of Phoenix City are so superstitious that a particularly debilitating rash of ghost sitings, compounded by a mysterious plague, has necessitated investigation by a group of medical personnel who set up base in the local monastery. Where the film fails is in its complete abandonment of the entire plot from the moment the atmospheric opening credits dissolve.

We never see the villagers (past the handful in the opening), nor do we see a single person infected with the plague. Not only that, but the “ghosts” are simply nothing more than a slasher in a creepy mask that looks like something bred from both “Halloween” and “Scream.” This isn’t a spoiler either; it’s obvious from frame one what this film is, and where it’s headed.

And so we get an unnecessary horror flick: an Asian film based on American slasher movies. Perhaps this type of story is unfamiliar to them, and that’s fine; I can’t, however, imagine even Asian moviegoers coming out of the theater saying, “Now THAT was a great idea!”

It doesn’t help that the English subtitles are horrible (even nonsensical at times), but the lack of any forward motion coupled with overlong scenes of exposition (one scene at a dinner table goes on for what must be twenty minutes, followed by another scene of people just standing around talking for at least half that time) make for a dull film that delivers uninspired, minimal gore, and almost no chills.

Pros: The beginning is stylish and features one pretty good intentional laugh.
Cons: Everything after that just sucks. This isn’t even one of those “so bad it’s good” flicks, although the English translator’s (and I use that term loosely) substitution of Chinese names like Ping Ping for (what I’m sure he thought was) Americanized names like Pinky makes for a chuckle. For about a second.
Review Rating: 0.5 out of 5 reasons why we seem to be one of the only sites that has reviewed this flick – it’s really that bad.

Ghosts” (2002)
92 Minutes; China
Not Rated, but probably equivalent to an R for explicit violence and rape.

Li Xiao Ran
Nie Yuan
Liu Piao
Yao Qing
Yang Chao
Liu Hai Bo
Directed by: Ah Gan
Viewing Format: Import DVD (from Mei Ah Entertainment)

(Originally published on HorrorWatch)


About John Daily

John is a freelance writer, columnist and critic. His work has appeared in print, as well as on sites such as ScifiWatch and HorrorWatch (where he wrote under the complete meaningless moniker “Bloody Taco”). An archive of his film-related material is available at Currently, he can be found spouting his special brand of sarcastic nonsense at or Twitter (JohnNDaily).


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