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This movie contains four separate stories, each by a different director. They are all ghost stories, including themes such as death wishes, prison, and alcoholism. Good and evil women play prominent roles in the various tales.
King Hu while revered for a number of unique films in the 1960's was outside the HK studio system by the 1970's and only produced three films in that decade. In 1979 his made two "Mountain" films concurrently. This one being a ghost story in the tradition of Japanese ghosts films like Ugetsu or Black Cat from the Grove.
A traveling scholar, Mr. Ho, is assigned the task of translating a special sutra for a ceremony honoring deceased soldiers. Needing a place to concentrate while he works, he is sent to a fort to be hosted by a Mr. Tsui, the secretary to the general of the fort. Arriving at the fort Ho find the place abandoned except for Tsui who informs him that the general and most of the soldiers died in battle. Tsui, his crazy servant Chang, a bizarre old lady named Mrs. Wang, her beautiful daughter and a maid are apparently the only residents in the vicinity of the fort. Ho is invited to a dinner given by Mrs. Wang. He becomes strangely drunk while the daughter plays a drum and loses consciousness. Waking up he finds that two days have passed and he has married the daughter. And so the mystery begins.
A unique film in some ways, it frequently has a problem holding the atmosphere consistently. There are several interludes of beautiful scenery that interrupt the effective spookiness. Sometimes King Hu, who was also the editor, shows a remarkable mastery of the medium and other times is almost amateurish in his editing choices. His aesthetic is anchored in the 1960's as ghostly doings are accompanied by clichéd sound effects. Overall the film is very effective as long as you can forgive the primitive special effects and the occasional sappy music.
The print available is not in great shape but it's a good film.
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