The Phantom of the Opera meets The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Back in 1937, Ma-Xu Weibang made China's first expressionist horror film, Song at Midnight. Mid-Nightmare serves as his Hong Kong-specific remake of this film, although he died in a car accident after completing the script. Enter his protégé, Yuen Chiu-feng, who would see the film through to its glorious two-part finale, setting the stage for the supernatural boom in Hong Kong cinema that followed two decades later.
Essentially an adaptation of Gaston Leroux's classic The Phantom of the Opera, Mid-Nightmare is set in a Huangmei diao teahouse theatre, which an embittered and horribly disfigured ex-performer ‘haunts', looking to extract revenge on his enemies and falling in love with a talented and beautiful, but ultimately unattainable, ingénue.
MIFF screens the two parts in a single presentation to honour an epic cinematic experience in its entirety – starting in the supernatural, it segues into political thriller territory in part two.