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Horoscope I: The Voices From Hell

Its Origin
Hong Kong

Running Time
89 mins

Genre(s)
Suspense Horror
Thriller

Director(s)
Cheng Wai Man

Stars
Pinky Cheung
Athena Chu

DVD Distributor
China Star

DVD Origin
Hong Kong

Region Code
All

DVD Format
NTSC

Audio Tracks
Cantonese DD 5.1
Mandarin DD 5.1


Subtitles
Chinese, English

Screen Format
Letterboxed

Special Info
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Film rating:
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Horoscope I: The Voices From Hell


Film & DVD Review
Athena Chu plays a psychology student who volunteers as a social worker looking after an old woman. The old woman is a psychic, and although Athena is sceptical at first, she agrees to a reading. This sets in motion a series of events that involve a mother/child who died in an apartment fire, their mourning triad husband, and a number of other characters. People start being haunted by ghosts, the lights turn spooky, eerie sounds are heard, and everyone has to scramble to unravel the mystery and save their lives in what turns out to be a case of revenge from the grave.

Sitting at home alone, lights down low and a good suspense/horror type film are three elements that can make quite a good night in. Watching Horoscope I: The Voice From Hell I had two out of three, which according to a certain song ain't bad.

If you are going to make a fairly crap Hong Kong suspense horror film there are two things that I think you absolutely must have: the first is good looking female leads. Here we have Athena Chu and Pinky Cheung. I've seen both of them look far sexier and more appealing than they do in this film, but they are still good looking, so I'll give them that. The second thing is Law Lan (the stereotyped old woman in a film like this) in a stereotyped old mystical woman sort of role. Horoscope has this, so it passes on both counts. It is now well on its way to being a resounding success at being a rather crap 'B-movie' suspense horror. In fact, I'd say all the elements are there, the dopey male lead with the love interest, the horny husband, the level-headed wife, the forgetful grandparent, ghosts with lots of green lighting, scary child ghosts and people being possessed. So much of the film falls slap bang in the middle of the clichéd bracket that I found myself getting stupidly bored at times. Plot pieces are revealed slowly as the link between the different characters slowly comes to light, which is the films only real saving grace. I'd seen the film before, but I couldn't remember exactly what happened, so still found myself mildly interested in making it to the film's conclusion.

The journey to the conclusion was the hard part to endure though. There is only so much green lighting that I can take in one film and it is used a lot here. Whenever someone is meant to be possessed by a ghost, there is a green light shining on their face from under their chin somewhere. Whenever ghosts are about to make an appearance on the screen, or something else supernatural is about to happen a green light comes on to make sure the audience know exactly who or what was responsible. Then there is the change in voice. It gets deeper, it resonates a hell of a lot more than it did with a sort of metal twang to it and it usually talks a bit slower. Oh, and wherever ghosts are generally resident it must be bloody windy as their hair is always being blown around. I like a good bit of supernatural, mysterious and mystical sort of stuff in my films, but in some films it works, in others it doesn't so much and it a lot it is over-used. Again with Horoscope I: The Voice From Hell we get a 2 out of 3 scenario.

All actors and actresses involved give suitable performances, neither shining on the stage like no other, nor being so dire that I was in awe of the levels of direness that could be reached. The acting compliments the general level of the film. It is meant to be a suspense horror type ghost film, but I was not filled with suspense and I definitely was not scared. The women were quite cute though.

Audio & Subtitles
The Cantonese audio track is a very poor 5.1 mix. I'm guessing this was made before the people at China Star (or whoever was responsible for the audio) had much of an idea of what to do in making 5.1 mixes. Each speaker basically plays exactly the same audio at all times, just at different volume levels. Speech is coming out of the rear left and right speakers at the same time as the front centre, as is everything else. This really is nothing more than a mono track played out of 5 speakers.

The subtitles are better than that, but still not great. Frequent spelling and grammar errors are present, but the meaning is still evident.

Quality
With this letterboxed transfer you've got a film print that produces colours pretty well. You'd hope it did with the amount of green that is on screen throughout the film's duration. There are frequent speckles and the like and the print is a little soft, but there's nothing major to complain about.

DVD & Extras
This is a completely bare-bones release, with only a menu screen from which you can choose the language, subtitles and film chapters. Impressive! Not.

Overall
Horoscope I: The Voice From Hell is a crap B-movie with some decent looking women in it. Clichéd to the hilt and not a film that I'm likely to bother with again.

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All review content copyrighted © (2003-2009) Kris Wojciechowski

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