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Stephen Chow stars in Out Of The Dark, a black comedy from 1995 directed by Jeffrey Lau. He plays a mental patient claiming to be a ghostbuster who decides to train a group of useless security guards to handle some crafty poltergeists.

Although he didn't direct this one himself, Out Of The Dark has all the trademarks of a Stephen Chow film from the gross-out humour to the cartoonish slapstick. The film pokes fun at thrillers and horror movies by following a selection of ridiculously clueless characters in a madcap plot that, unapologetically, makes little sense. This is a surprisingly brutal and gory comedy as people stab or shoot each other left and right prompting gallons of blood to gush in every scene. The humour throughout is dark, borderline sadistic at times but also completely juvenile so it's hard to take any of it seriously even when it's at its most violent. The plot, which is slight to say the least, is fully overshadowed by all the over-the-top gags that interrupt the story constantly.

Luckily, the film is very funny and the fact there's always something random going on means it's never boring. The tone of the film is perhaps a tad too erratic and it's easy to forget it was even about ghosts in the first place, especially right at the end when it finally jumps the shark by having Chow and others inexplicably flying over the city in paper hats. Between the inept security guards and the increasingly catastrophic training sequence, Out Of The Dark is rather reminiscent of the Michael Hui comedies from the 70's and 80's but with a more modern edge. Karen Mok co-stars as a resident of the apartment building who takes an interest in Chow's character and his unusual ghost-hunting techniques and she's a lot of fun, as is the rest of the supporting cast.

If you're looking for a goofy horror comedy then Out Of The Dark is definitely a decent bet: it's absurd from start to finish but in a good way. The story had a bit more potential than the film gave it credit for but it still works as just a "bloody" good time.

Proudly mad ghost-com.

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