ISSN: 1059440X
First published in 2012
2 issues per volume
Volume 22 Issue 1
Cover Date: Fall/Winter 2011
The Shaw Brothers Meet Hammer: Coproduction, Coherence, and Cult Film Critera
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Authors:  Gary Bettinson 
DOI: 10.1386/AC.22.1.122_1

Shaw brothers, Hammer films, Hong Kong cinema, cult film, transnational coproduction, evaluation

During the 1970s, Shaw Brothers and Hammer Films sought to blend kung fu spectacle with traditional genres. The fruits of this endeavor The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and Shatter, both 1974 were castigated by mainstream critics as idiosyncratic and incoherent. The films’ appropriation by cult audiences, however, is predicated on precisely their purported incoherence. This essay argues that incoherence constitutes a tacit and under-theorized criterion for cult movies, and insofar as it is conceived as a homogenous phenomenon, tends to offer an uninformative barometer of a cult film’s value. In contrast, I propose several levels of coherence, the better to specify the cult film’s unities and disunities across a range of dimensions. Centrally, I explore the alleged incoherence forged by fusing kung fu with the norms of horror (Legend) and crime thriller (Shatter). Arguing that both films obey canonized principles of storytelling, I go on to examine the effects that their apparent incoherence has upon the viewer’s experience. The paper also points toward the relevance of transnational coproduction for grasping both the viewer’s activity and the critical neglect of coherence in the Shaws-Hammer movies.
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