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Hong Kong Horror Cinema$
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Gary Bettinson and Daniel Martin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474424592

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474424592.001.0001

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The White Snake in Hong Kong Horror Cinema: from Horrific Tales to Crowd Pleasers

The White Snake in Hong Kong Horror Cinema: from Horrific Tales to Crowd Pleasers

(p.34) Chapter 2 The White Snake in Hong Kong Horror Cinema: from Horrific Tales to Crowd Pleasers
Hong Kong Horror Cinema

Liang Luo

Edinburgh University Press

Considered one of the four legends in the Chinese oral tradition, the legend of the White Snake and its theatrical and popular cultural metamorphoses played an important role in the pre-cinematic origins of Hong Kong horror cinema. This chapter surveys the changing representation of gender and horror in a series of films based on the White Snake legend from the 1920s to the 1970s. Centred on a very horrific concept (a monstrous snake disguised as a beauty and married to a human male), these films nonetheless enrich or even challenge our understanding of the genre of horror cinema in their service to a wide range of other genres: operatic performance, romantic melodrama, fantasy adventure, slapstick comedy, and social and political commentary. In addition to challenging the very concept of horror, this cluster of White Snake films poses further challenges to the idea of “Hong Kong cinema,” as it ranges from a Tokyo production, a Shanghai production, a Hong Kong-Japan coproduction, to a production based in Hong Kong with South Asian distributors, and a Hong Kong-Taiwan coproduction with a Shaw Brothers director.

Keywords:   White Snake films, Coproduction, Show Brothers, Romantic melodrama, Fantasy adventure, Slapstick comedy, Social and political commentary

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