Nothing seems to creep out Asians more than dead babies…. Neko’s not certain exactly just why that is (I’ve always found the living ones can be creepy enough most days, Hehehe!!), but anyway, this time out your Favorite Catgirl has for you a look at the recent HK horror effort, “Womb Ghosts”.
Synopsis? Do you really need one with a title like this? Well… OK, here’s how it goes: “Life after death of a fetus inside a woman’s body exists as a Womb Ghost. Unnatural termination of such life will turn the baby into the evilest and most vicious kind of spirit.
A mental hospital is haunted by spirits, the mysterious miscarriage of a young and beautiful inmate causes authorities to investigate. Only one answer can be given to the existence of such an ungodly creature… Womb Ghost.”
Sounds trashy? Well I certainly hope so…. Your Favorite Catgirl could use some gooey nasty horror to make me squirm just a wee bit….. and it’s been a while since the Chinese managed to reach the level of some of the over-the-top gore fests of the old Shaw studios, like “Black Magic”, or “Bewitched”. Of late it’s been Thailand to which I’ve turned when I want to be grossed out in that “so bad, it’s good” way. Just why I like that sort of thing sometimes seems to escape those who love and know me well, but I like to think it’s all part of my whimsical undefinable charm….. (And it certainly sounds better than being known as “that creepy Asian girl who likes THOSE nasty sorts of movies….” Hehehehe!!)
But you, o’ Gentle Visitors, know deep in your hearts, that you too like those naughty, gory movies as much as I do…. and so you’ll definitely want to “Read On” and see if “Womb Ghosts” is up to the task of both delighting and grossing you out as well.
“Womb Ghosts” is the latest film by HK film producer, screenwriter and director Dennis Law, who also gave us 2007’s gorefest throwback to the old Shaw Brothers days, “Gong Tau: An Oriental Black Magic”. While not perhaps the most talented Director at work in HK these days, he none the less truly seems to enjoy the genre as only a real fan can and always seems to be able to make the sort of cheesy exploitation films very few people bother with these days. To that, Neko says “Good for you, Dennis!!”. But then of course… enthusiastic film making doesn’t always translate into good film making….. So exactly what’s “Womb Ghost” gonna bring us….. Hmmmmm?
Our story basically revolves around the eerie events surrounding a sordid love triangle involving two women, Winnie (played by Koni Lui), a club hostess who keeps suffering from repeated traumatic miscarriages, and Zoe (played by model turned actress Chrissie Chau), a student nurse and the current mistress of Winnie’s philandering doctor husband Joseph (played by Chris Lai). Zoe… our main character is shown at the beginning of the film as the sad, hopelessly insane patient of a mental hospital who has become the subject of a curious police investigation.
What’s up with her? Well…. despite being locked away in a high security asylum, she keeps getting mysteriously pregnant…. over and over again… which always ends in a miscarriage. The police are baffled since none of the male staff or visitors could be responsible…. being ruled out by DNA testing that shows the child couldn’t possibly be theirs. Strangely though, the fetuses always have exactly the same DNA profile as each other, a medical impossibility…. unless that means the fetuses are the same person. How is this possible?
We jump back a bit in time….. To the story of Zoe and Joseph’s affair at the hospital. Zoe is the stereotypical mistress in this tale; young, pretty and full of ambition to hook herself a doctor for a husband… even if she has to separate him from the wife he already has. I wish I could have worked up some sympathy for the character, but Zoe isn’t all that likable…. being fairly mercenary and selfish, even to the point of playing on the sympathies of her fellow nurses to glean illicit placentas, supposedly for herself to eat as part of some gross traditional Chinese medicine notion (Ewwwwwhhh… Ick!!), but in reality to sell to her repulsive spiritualist father (played by Lam Suet) to feed the “baby ghost” he has enslaved to run his fortunetelling scams.
As much as I disliked our main character, I really felt sympathy for Dr. Joseph’s poor wife Winnie. She’s a classy, sexy, stand up gall who not only put her jerk of a hubby through medical school, but who just keeps being made miserable by the recurring terrible luck she’s been having with her series of failed pregnancies. At the beginning of the story she’s at the hospital… getting some medication to help keep her latest child from ending up like all her previous pregnancies…. ending in a terrible heart wrenching miscarriage. But it seems it all for nothing… soon she’s in emergency surgery to remove the dead fetus hemorrhaging within her. It’s enough to finally convince her to leave Joseph and move away to San Francisco to start her life anew… away from him, his indifference to her and his constant philandering.
You’d think this would clear the way for Zoe to move right in and stake her claim to the good doctor… but you’d be wrong. He’s no more interested in a permanent relationship with Zoe than he was with his wife Winnie…. Grrrr!!! Men!!! Some of you can just be such jerks!! So how come the evil lil’ ghost doesn’t chase him around I wondered? If anybody deserved it he does… but nope. Our little spectre keeps following Zoe around… looking for every chance to sneak inside her womb, like she’s picking out an new apartment or something. A “Womb with a view”…. Hehehehe. Zoe’s dad tries to intervene… but he’s no match for this particular ghost… and lasts about as long as it takes for the ghost to casually rip out his lung just for spite.
We get all the usual haunting stuff…. weird dreams, hallucinations where you think you ate worms, finding little fetuses inside your breakfast eggs, and all the other paranormal experiences you might expect from a story like this. While all well done, none are particularly shocking or memorable and I supposes that’s the main problem with “Womb Ghosts”. It doesn’t really fail as a movie, but it doesn’t give you anything new either…. it’s all just sort of… well… blah. Dennis Law is certainly enthusiastic as a director, but he’s got some work to do to hone his craft and it shows here.
Our story eventually moves to it’s Twist Ending…. but you’ll be well ahead of the curve by the time it come around and have it all figured out. Neko’s not going to spoil things for you, but I can tell you it does adequately explain Zoe’s haunting and gives you even more reason to dislike her all at the same time….. Not a good thing if you want to have an audience feel sorry for the victim of your supernatural goings on. Do the police ever figure this all out? Do you really think it matters? Nope… not really. All in all the whole “placenta eating” thingee creeped me and Carolyn out more than any of the “scary stuff” going on here…. I can tell you that particular idea had my sweetie nearly green with nausea and she’s usually pretty unflappable when it comes to some of the nasty goings on in my film selections.
Overall…. Neko’s gonna have to give “Womb Ghosts” a barely acceptable 3 “Meows” out of 5…. and only because the effects and production values were pretty good overall. It has only a “by-the-numbers” story, filled with characters you mostly won’t feel any connection to and an unsatisfying ending without any real resolution or closure. I’m not going to beat up Dennis Law’s efforts as Director as I can see he’s truly a fan of the Asian horror genre, and these days we can use all the fans we can get. The DVD is simple…. Region Free and NTSC formatted in letterboxed widescreen goodness with excellent subtitles… even including the making of feature which was very interesting overall. At about 15$ US, it’s certainly worth considering if you are an Asian horror movie fan, but not really worth it to the casual Asian cinema viewer. Ah well…. maybe he’ll knock one out of the park movie wise-next time.
Trailer? Oh yes, we’ve got a Trailer in all it’s gooey placenta filled glory…. enjoy!!