Color, 1972, 79 mins. 28 secs.
Directed by "John H. Chow" (Chou Hsu Chiang)
Starring Yang Fan, Margaret Hsing Hui, Lui Ming, Carrie Ku Mei, Got Siu-Bo
88 Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK RB/R2 HD/PAL), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R3 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

The The Bride from Hellwave of The Bride from Hellhorror films from Shaw Brothers in the '70s and '80s tends to fall into two categories: atmospheric supernatural tales with a classical bent, and garish freak outs packed with grotesque modern thrills. The Bride from Hell definitely falls into the former category as part of an early dip into ghost stories (along with titles like The Ghost Lovers) before Black Magic started to change the game entirely.

In a spooky swampland where we immediately see a female ghost rising up out of the water, Nie Yunpeng (Fan) and his chubby comic relief sidekick are wandering around at sunset when they spy a young woman at the edge of a lake. Presuming she's about to throw herself in, they're alarmed when they get closer and realize she might be a ghost, fleeing in terror. That night they seek shelter at the only house in the vicinity ("We ran into a ghost, you know!") where the lady of the house, virginal Anu (Hui), is reluctant at first but allows them to stay, However, she's appalled when Yunpeng wanders into her bedroom as she's sleeping in the nude, an improper violation that can only be remedied if he marries her. The wedding goes off without a hitch, but soon the The Bride from Hellgroom's The Bride from Hellfamily and friends start to notice something odd about the new bride -- such as the fact that she occasionally has a green glow and can disappear at odd moments while strolling with her husband. As it turns out, the couple's union might not be quite as coincidental as it first appeared.

Stylish but definitely old-fashioned and a bit pokey by Hong Kong horror standards, The Bride from Hell is an interesting little transitional film that both looks back at the tradition of Eastern ghost stories (comparisons to the much more respectable Ugetsu have been made on a few occasions) and incorporates some '70s thrills like a bit of nudity and bloodshed to appease modern audiences. The story is your average revenge from beyond the grave routine, though despite the title, the main ghost isn't really "from hell" or all that bloodthirsty; it's the humans who are the real villains here, for reasons that only become obvious later on. The fantastic elements are sparing but enjoyable, such as a cackling bearded swordsman with tree branches sticking out of his head who pops out of a cloud of smoke and grows to enormous size.

EssentiallyThe Bride from Hell unseen outside of Hong Kong and surrounding territories for decades, The Bride from Hell made its DVD bow in 2004 from Celestial (with a VCD at the same time) featuring the mono Mandarin track with optional English, traditional Chinese, Indonesian, or Malaysian subtitles. Like most other titles in that The Bride from Helllandmark wave of Celestial releases, the film was mastered in PAL for higher resolution but, of course, ran at the incorrect speed which caused the film to clock in almost four minutes shorter.

In 2017, 88 Films brought the film to a feature-only UK Blu-ray (Region B locked) running at the correct film speed for the first time with the correct running time of 79 minutes. The transfer is about on par for second-tier Celestial Films transfers, with lovely saturated colors (especially reds) and somewhat flat, pale black levels that can be remedied with a bit of picture adjustment. The LPCM Mandarin audio sounds satisfactory for a basic sound mix of the period, and the optional English subtitles are fine but prone to the usual fumbling Celestial attempts at lyricism like "No disasters in heaven & earth; inured to the unusual."

Reviewed on September 2, 2017.