Known as the master of horror in Taiwan, Yao Feng-Pan directed over 30 movies of different genres, and more than half of which were horrors in the 1970s. Since the success of his blockbuster All in the Dim Cold Night, Yao had devoted his efforts to the creation of horrors and led a boom in the genre both domestically and overseas. His horrors entertained the Taiwanese audience with stories and morals they were familiar with. Adapted from the Chinese classic, Strange Stories from the Chinese Studio, Yao’s horrors have actors in historical costumes introduce Confucian ethics, and the violation of which always leads to severe punishment, that is, being haunted by ghosts. Ghosts and haunted desolate places are more than essential. They construct themes and initiate actions of betrayal and revenge. While the desolate place is usually the crime scene, it is also the site where the ghost lingers to take revenge. As the outcast and of the periphery, ghosts and desolate places are designed not only for shaking his audience with fright but function as weapon to fight. This paper would like to discuss the ghosts and desolate places in Yao’s two horror movies of the mid-1970s as the “peripheral” cinematic language, which, beyond illuminating the morality of “evil has its retribution in content,” criticizes the authority of family, society and gender with an aim to challenge the monstrous political hegemony that had once confined the development of film industry during the Taiwan martial law era.
Fang-Jeng Liu, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan