Yao Feng-Pan’s Modern Horror Film: Space and Gender in The Ghost Lover (1974)

Ms Mei-hsuan Chiang1

1Taipei National University Of The Arts, Taiwan

Despite the government’s discouraging attitude towards the supernatural and the spectral, ghost and spirit movies (shenguai) remained one of the most popular genres in 1970s Taiwan. During the time, most of the directors follow classical Chinese ghost stories, particularly Pu Songling’s Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, in depicting the beautiful female ghosts and their romantic relationships with young male scholars, whereas Yao Feng-Pan breaks away from the tradition to start a new epoch of horror films. The paper first examines the rise of horror films during Taiwan’s Cold War period and Yao Feng-Pan’s breakthrough of film aesthetics and genre conventions in the 1970s. Most notably, he introduces modern setting for Taiwan’s horrors, and constructs a unique image of female ghosts that is monstrous and revengeful. Using the example of Ghost Marriage (1974), the paper investigates the unsettling tensions between past and present, “traditional” and “modern” space, established feminine social norm and modern feminist discourses in Yao Feng-Pan’s works. Ultimately, the paper argues that Yao Feng-Pan’s films offer more than horror pleasure; they reveal Taiwan’s collective unconscious during the Cold War era.


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