These all-time classic Cantonese horror movies will get your heart racing (and possibly put a smile on your face with their cheesiness).
While we love all forms of cinematic entertainment like small screen gems (you’ve got to watch our fave feel-good comedy shows), Korean movies, and LGBTQ+ movies, watching a scary movie that gets your blood pumping is a riveting experience like no other. From comedy-horror to straight-up gruesome thrillers, these sinister films have become one of the most prolific genres of Hong Kong cinema. For a freaky good time, we’ve put together a list of the best Cantonese horror movies – expect something different from the typical Western haunted mansions and exorcisms!
Cue the screams with these bone-chilling Cantonese horror movies
1. The Eye (2002)
A co-production between Hong Kong and Singapore, The Eye comes from Hong Kong filmmaking duo, the Pang Brothers, who were inspired by a newspaper story from years ago. In the movie, a blind classical violinist undergoes an eye cornea transplant, only to start seeing ghostly figures that seem to predict gruesome deaths. Troubled, she begins to uncover the truth behind the mysterious past of her eye donor. A chilling film with a startling climax, The Eye has spawned several remakes, including a Hollywood version starring Jessica Alba.
2. Mr Vampire (1985)
Produced by Hong Kong cinema legend Sammo Hung, Mr Vampire is a renowned Hong Kong comedy-horror movie about jiangshi, also known as the “hopping vampires” in Chinese folklore. When Taoist priest Master Kau and his incompetent students are hired to rebury a businessman’s deceased father, they instead discover that the corpse has become a violent vampire. A breakthrough of the popular Hong Kong jiangshi cinematic genre from the 80s and 90s, the film originated some of the genre’s biggest tropes and remains one of the most popular Cantonese horror movies of all time.
3. Rigor Mortis (2013)
A tribute to the 80s comedy-horror classic Mr Vampire (1985), Rigor Mortis illustrates the peculiar encounters that occur as the formerly successful star Chin Siu-ho (played by the actor himself) attempts to commit suicide. The film chronicles the supernatural and ghostly spirits that inhabit Chin’s apartment building as they begin to affect the lives of the residents. A hit since its release in 2013, the movie has Chin as well as several other actors from Mr Vampire back to take on new roles.
4. Troublesome Night (1997)
Set on the haunted streets of Hong Kong, Troublesome Night depicts four connecting stories that kick off when a teenager encounters a strange woman near a grave during a camping trip. The interlocking plot soon unfolds to include a missing husband at his wedding anniversary; an affair with a ghost; and a visit to a haunted theatre. The first comedy-horror entry in the Troublesome Night film series, this movie is a spooky telling of childhood nightmares come to life.
5. The Untold Story (1993)
Not for the faint of heart, the Category III-rated The Untold Story is one of the most gruesome Cantonese horror movies from the 90s. Based on the infamous true story of the 1985 Eight Immortals Restaurant murders, the film spins its plot from the sensationalised rumours that arose from the crime. When Hong Kong gambler and killer Wong Chi-hang flees to Macau, he ends up working at the Eight Immortals Restaurant where he continues his murderous rampage. Bolstered by the critically acclaimed lead performance from legendary film star Anthony Wong, The Untold Story remains controversial due to its depictions of violence and cannibalism.
6. Dream Home (2010)
If you’re a particularly bloodthirsty movie-watcher, then Dream Home will be right up your alley. Vowing to purchase an apartment overlooking Victoria Harbour after a troubled childhood, Cheng Lai-sheung encounters many difficulties during her quest. After the final setback, she goes on a homicidal rampage to get her dream home by any means necessary. Tackling local problems like exorbitant rents and the obstacles of low-income housing, Dream Home is a grisly film that’ll have you double-checking your locks before you fall asleep!
7. Out of the Dark (1995)
Mixing horror with legendary funnyman Stephen Chow, Out of the Dark is a comedically brutal film for the ages. Loosely parodying characters from Léon the Professional (1994), Chow leads the adventure of a mental patient/ghostbuster, who’s teamed up with a young girl to rid a spirit from a building in Hong Kong. The spark between Chow and popstar Karen Mok is only enhanced by the movie’s abundance of absurd jokes and gore. Loaded with dark humour and violence, this comedy-horror will have you laughing and grimacing all at once.
8. Three (2002)
An anthology horror film made collaboratively across three Asian countries, Three features a series of ominous segments from Korean (Memories), Thai (The Wheel), and Hong Kong (Going Home) directors. With stories ranging from a troubled husband and a missing wife; a puppeteer with cursed puppets; and a policeman held hostage by his neighbour, the film takes you on a rollercoaster of chills and thrills. Hong Kong’s segment, Going Home, has particularly drawn much critical acclaim, with a praised performance from Leon Lai and amazing cinematography from the celebrated Christopher Doyle. Viewers will also be intrigued by Going Home’s historic setting of the Former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters, which has now become the cultural hub, PMQ.
9. Dumplings (2004)
Heed our warning: Dumplings is not for those with weak knees and weak stomachs. Extrapolated from a segment of the horror compilation movie Three… Extremes, Dumplings depicts a woman who consumes dumplings made of aborted foetuses to stay rejuvenated and look younger. With slight differences from the original short film, Dumplings has been commended for its thoughtful direction from Fruit Chan and its dark, socio-political screenplay from Lillian Lee. While Dumplings is certainly worth a watch for any fan of Cantonese horror movies, viewers should keep in mind that the film is rated Category III for being quite gruesome.