***WARNING! This article contains images of nudity, sex and bloody violence***
SINS OF CELLULOID 5 takes us to the Asian continent and surrounding Southeast Asian territories. There are some truly jaw dropping entries here and a little bit of everything showcased in this article. There's blood, gore, sex, violence, monsters, fantasy, kung fu, gun battles, magical powers and one defining factor--exploitation. Asian sleaze and wacky fantasy is without doubt some of the most ferociously creative and envelope pushing examples of the form. There's truly something for every slathering gorehound, or cinematic junk explorer out there to satiate their taste for mindless violence and pestilent perversity.
The worlds most lethal super kicker, Hwang Jang Lee (left) takes on Bruceploitation expert, Bruce Le in CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER (1980) also directed by Bruce Le
Hong Kong and Indonesian madcap movies are the main focal points here. Hong Kong has had a long history of producing dozens of cheap-jack, but ingenious genre product especially in the 1970's. Since the mid 90's, HK has slowed down considerably with their flamboyant low budget wonders, but there's so much to see from years prior and still more to discover.
While this entry in the CELLULOID SINS series looks to be the biggest, most expansive one, there were so many that were left out. Movies such as Sun Chung's horror exploitation swordplay adventure THE DEVIL'S MIRROR (1972) was his inaugural film for Shaw Brothers. Although it bore none of his signature flourishes, it still was a raucously bloody good time with its three eyed, sex crazed villainess, the Bloody Ghoul Clan, the search for a magical mirror and lots of spurting blood.
The Shaw Brothers themselves relished in all manner of exploitation cinema from sex films to co-productions that excelled in the sleazy side of cinema and all it has to offer. Movies such as VIRGINS OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1974), THE BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS (1973), SPIRIT OF THE RAPED (1976) and SEX BEYOND THE GRAVE (1984) are just a few examples whose titles sell the sordid details perfectly. Li Han Hsiang, at one time, the Shaw's biggest director, made an entire career out of shooting erotic dramas and sexy comedies; many of them as anthologies. One in particular, was extremely exploitative. Entitled THE GHOST STORY (1980), it was one of Li's least successful movies, but contained some of the most strange and wonky imagery ever seen including a bunch of naked Chinese nuns and a giant statue that shoots laser beams!
The revered Chang Cheh had an interest in fantasy pictures and did his fair share of them throughout his career including NA CHA, THE GREAT (1974), based on ancient Chinese legends. He also directed the experimental failures, THE FANTASTIC MAGIC BABY (1975) and the troubled production, HEAVEN & HELL (1975-80). After leaving Shaw's in 1982 (his last film for them was the aptly titled THE WEIRD MAN), he did a couple more ridiculous fantasy flicks like ATTACK OF THE JOYFUL GODDESS (1983) and the bewildering NINE DEMONS (1983).
Don't get excited, he's just sucking out some snake poison...seriously...Danny Lee relieves Evelyn Kraft in THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977)
Other exploitation titles are THE CALL GIRLS (1977) from the much respected director Cheng Kang, which is based on a true account and even features a cameo by Cheng Kang and Chang Cheh, himself, among other Shaw stars and directors. THE GIRLIE BAR (1976) is another prostitute movie, this time directed by Lo Mar, who directed the Bruce Lee sexploitation opus, BRUCE LEE & I (1976).
American, Brad Harris, star of numerous sword and sandal movies, battles Bruce Le in CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER (1980)
There are far too many Chinese exploitation movies to cover, but I have picked certain choice titles for various reasons. There's only one movie on this list I'd say was truly horrible, I just included it for its disturbing geek show qualities as an example of a cruddy film that is pure exploitation at its most obvious. The independent companies from both HK and Taiwan had their fair share of trashy pictures with such films as TIGER LOVE (1977), the only film on record (if you know of another, please tell me) to feature a tiger (in English) swearing vengeance for the death of its master. What starts out as a Romeo & Juliet style actioner set in some faraway mountain region, later becomes a cannibalistic ghost revenge movie.
On the kung fu front, NINJA KILL (1983) is a modern day kung fu actioner with tons of sex and nudity and creatively low budget action sequences. The story concerns the search for some kind of medallion which gets forgotten about as the film wears on. It's a showcase for real life gangster Chen Hui Min to bed down various horny girls in a boxing ring, shower, exercise room, etc. CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER (1980) is another with a boatload of sex and violence (including a slow motion topless tennis match!) with trash actor Richard Harrison, Bruce Le, Brad Harris and Korean super kicking megastar, Hwang Jang Lee.
Indonesia is responsible for some of the nuttiest, flamingly retarded motion picture gems you are likely to find on your journey for cinematic nirvana. The country has a history of superstitious beliefs and local legends that still permeate even today. One thing you'll notice in so many Indo movies (both those easily attainable and some you have to look a little harder for) is that they all seem to be about, or contain some element of black magic within the narrative. There abject, gory goofiness are a major attraction for lurkers seeking the most bizarre thrills imaginable.
The Philippines also have a history of some grand exploitation quick fixes. From the BLOOD ISLAND movies, to Cirio Santiago's many action and sleaze pictures to one of the most beloved cult exports of all time. The barely three foot tall Weng Weng. This pint sized action hero and ladies man had a brief, but prosperous career in his native land. He's also the star of one of the best movies on this list and one of the most ridiculously enjoyable and fun cult films ever made. I hope you enjoy this supremely trashy menagerie of Asian cult cinema madness!
CELLULOID SINS PART 5: ASIAN EXPLOITATION!
MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND 1968 (Philippines)
This second entry in a loose trilogy is often regarded as the best, most fondly remembered of the three films that include BRIDES OF BLOOD and BEAST OF BLOOD starring John Ashley. For this follow up, Ashley plays doctor Foster whose off to Blood Island with his girlfriend searching for her missing father. Once there, they meet up with the evil doctor Lorca who conducts bizarre experiments. Meanwhile, a bloodthirsty monster has been butchering local natives. Foster and his girlfriend, Sheila, attempt to put a stop to Lorca and his mysterious creature.
All the blood island movies are well regarded amongst those who were lucky enough to catch them at the drive in and partake in some green blooded, chlorophyll monster mayhem replete with sex and gore. These movies are representative of a typical passion pit attraction that the hardtops didn't always embrace.
The only annoyance in MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND is the rapid fire zoom ins and zoom outs whenever the monster shows up to mutilate a native or two. John Ashley was a former television and movie star who featured in a slew of AIP beach party movies before making his fateful filipino sojourn in Eddie Romero flicks. These include BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT (1971) and THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1973). He reprises the role of Bill Foster for BEAST OF BLOOD, which begins mere minutes after the ending of MAD DOCTOR. Ronald Remy as Dr. Lorca is replaced by Eddie Garcia for the next installment. Angelique Pettyjohn was in the violent STAR TREK episode, 'The Gamesters of Triskelion' and later had a career in porn.
THE BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS 1973 (HK)
The Shaw Brothers are most well known world wide for their martial arts epics. In addition to producing films of every genre, one that's less discussed are their exploitation movies of which there are quite a few. Shot before the ILSA craze took the drive in by storm, THE BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS appears to be a more grim version of Jack Hill's groundbreaking WIP films for Roger Corman's New World Pictures such as THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971), the biggest moneymaking independent film at that time. Kuei Chi Hung, arguably Shaw's best director of sleazy product, helms this fitfully and frenziedly entertaining action exploitation epic about torture and death in a female concentration camp.
By the midway point, the film becomes an action picture as a group of the women captives mount an escape with an undercover Chinese agent in a search for hidden gold via a secret treasure map. The Japanese want this gold, too. Throw in a group of revolutionaries, a pretty exciting car chase and one of many grand and gruesome roles for Lo Lieh. Having been hired at the same time as Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh co-starred in a handful of swordplay adventures before getting a few solo features of his own. He later became one of Hong Kong's most prolific actors.
Kuei's movie contains numerous scenes of torture and degradation, lesbianism, rape and misogyny a plenty. Kuei was said to be a tyrant on set pushing his actors to extremes. Regardless, Kuei turned out some of the most grim and incredibly violent movies to ever come out of Hong Kong. Shaw Brothers were notorious for excessive bloodletting and this suited Kuei's style perfectly. It wasn't always blood and guts for the grim director as he also directed comedies (THE RAT CATCHER) and fantasy films (THE GOURD FAIRY). Of the numerous grotesque movies on his resume, THE BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS is one of his most famous.
KISS OF DEATH 1973 (HK)
The lovely Chen Ping quickly became Hong Kong's queen of exploitation cinema with this intriguing rape revenge actioner. She plays a factory worker who attracts the attention of five fiendish thugs. They trap her and take turns raping her on the roof of an apartment complex. She contracts a rare venereal disease called 'Vietnam Rose', an incurable infection brought back from the Vietnam War. Suffering frequently from the sickness, a handicapped club owner played by Lo Lieh trains her to defend herself. She then goes about avenging herself on the five men. Lily Chan Ching plays Chen Ping's friend who carries with her a pack of razor edged playing cards.
Ho Meng Hua was a famous director at the time having directed the magnificent epic fantasy adventure quartet, the MONKEY GOES WEST series. He graduated to respectable, if violent swordplay features before settling in on directing some of the most nutty and well known HK exploitation movies ever made. These include such films as the highly influential BLACK MAGIC (1975), THE OILY MANIAC (1976) and the grand epic schlock of THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977). Arguably the most famous film of Ho's career outside of Asia is undoubtedly THE FLYING GUILLOTINE (1974), yet another influential and imitated picture.
KISS OF DEATH has a sickeningly grim view of the Hong Kong underbelly. The villains are scum of the highest order which is demonstrated in a torrid scene where one of them gets two young and very attractive girls drunk. He and some others then take them into a room where they all have sex with them while another makes a porn movie. Originally titled POISON GIRL, Ho Meng Hua's tale of lady vengeance was a hit in Hong Kong and led to a long and prosperous career in violent action and erotic comedies and dramas for its star, Chen Ping. KISS OF DEATH (1973) would garner a remake in 1988 as HER VENGEANCE starring Pauline Wong in the Chen Ping role and the revered Lam Ching Ying in the Lo Lieh role.
THE SUPER INFRAMAN 1975 (HK)
This was Shaw Brothers ambitious attempt to emulate the success and popularity of Japan's hundreds of Tokusatsu shows with special emphasis on ULTRAMAN, a superhero show that found fame in America. The plot is virtually interchangeable with any number of Japanese creature features that still proliferate small and big screens in the land of the rising sun. For Shaw's version, the amount of effects work was staggering for a Chinese production. Granted, the effects are no different than your average Japanese Kaiju programmer, but it's cool to see a Chinese take on the subject.
Danny Lee is part of a world crime fighting organization that battles against threats to the Earth. They all ride around on motorcycles and wear snazzy silver and blue outfits. A race of monsters led by Queen Elzibub (Princess Dragon Mom in the English dubbed versions and played by the hot Terry Liu) rises from beneath the Earth to take over the planet. Meanwhile, Professor Liu has been working on a secret scientific experiment that will turn agent Rayma (Danny Lee) into a the cyborg superhero, Inframan. The remainder of the movie is a series of kung fu battles as Inframan battles Elzibub and her minions and foiling her plans to take over the Earth.
There's tons of action and Inframan grows to giant size at one point to combat a gargly voiced Spider Man. Great fun for kids and grown ups alike who can appreciate such goofy delights. It's one of Roger Ebert's favorite movies and has maintained its cult status for years since Joseph Brenner released it in America back in the late 70's. Despite the Shaw's heavy promotion for the film (including a lot of publicity in their magazines as well as a gala double hot air balloon promotion in the parks of Hong Kong), the film failed to make much of a dent at least in Hong Kong. If Godzilla and Ultraman strike your fancy, SUPER INFRAMAN is incredibly gaudy good fun.
WEB OF DEATH 1976 (HK)
After the big success across Asia of Chu Yuan's innovative Wuxia classic, KILLER CLANS (1976), he embarked on a long series of Romantic Swordsman epics based on the works of Jin Yong and other notable authors. This is undoubtedly the wildest, most insane of those adaptations. If Shaw Brothers teamed up with Sid & Marty Krofft for a Halloween special, it would look something like WEB OF DEATH. The film was also released in late October to coincide with the holiday.
Boasting some of the zaniest costumes in the genre and cinema in general, Chu Yuan's movie is an incredible and ingenious concoction of creepy clans, deadly traps, secret passageways, martial arts, flashy opticals and what has to be the damned looniest weapon ever created for any movie. All Wuxia martial world features usually involved the search for an extravagant weapon whether a special sword, or other meticulous creation. The 'Five Venom Spider' weapon falls into the latter camp. Describing it does it no justice. You simply have to see it. It's a small tarantula imbued with lethal properties. Encased within a large smoking box adorned with a big red spider, the creature emits poisonous, rainbow colored death rays and its bite causes victims to melt into piles of goo. In addition to other abilities, the mini monster also roars like an elephant!
Amidst all this craziness, WEB OF DEATH has a serious storyline with some dramatic elements. The main plot is about the search for the deadly 'Five Venom Spider'. Some clans want it for supreme domination and others wish to make sure it's never used again. Meanwhile a swordsman falls in love with a woman from a rival clan. Both are set up for different crimes which pits both clans against the other while the real culprit gets his hands on the dreaded martial world weapon. Tons of entertainment value, this Shaw production is a grand and gaudy good time.
THE SNAKE PRINCE 1976 (HK)
Freakishly outlandish is one way to describe this abnormal curiosity from the famed Shaw Brothers studio. Based on ancient Chinese folklore, it's about a heavenly serpentine prince who aids a famine stricken village in exchange for marriage to one of their women. Things go awry when the bride to be's two duplicitous sisters, who covet the snake prince's wealth, also vie for his attention. Things end badly in typical Shaw Brothers tradition culminating in a violent ending pitting angry villagers against gigantic, fire breathing snake men.
It's difficult to ascertain just what the Shaw's were going for here. Granted, around this time they had become enamored of producing films of a far more fantastical nature. A lot of these ended up being ambitious, yet primitive failures. Chinese effects artists were not well equipped to handle advanced techniques in this field. Generally, Japanese crews were imported to aid them in pulling off effects sequences. The effects scenes in SNAKE PRINCE are pretty decent, actually. The film itself is a strange amalgamation of Bollywood style song and dance numbers, drama, fantasy, martial arts and giant monster motifs. It's a strange brew that ultimately ends up being a terrible movie by default, but one that's strangely alluring for those who enjoy truly bizarre cinematic experiences.
Nearly unclassifiable, THE SNAKE PRINCE occasionally resembles a kids movie, but then there's (very nice) bare breasts, a disturbing sex scene with Lin Chin Chi and Ti Lung AFTER he has turned into the snake and a bloody finale with the monsters in Snake Mountain. Ti Lung was in something of a transitional state at this point in his career appearing in a lot of varied styles of product once he finished up his long stint with Chang Cheh. Director Lo Chen was more well known for his work in dramas. Incidentally, Tsui Hark directed a similar film in 1993 entitled GREEN SNAKE based on the numerous versions of 'Madame White Snake'. This Shaw slithery snake fantasy is like a grim version of an old AIP 'Beach Party' movie with drought suffering villagers singing and dancing the night away. As it's virtually impossible to categorize, THE SNAKE PRINCE is recommended to those who enjoy weird, even experimental movies off the beaten path.
THE SEXY KILLER 1976 (HK)
Sun Chung was one of Shaw Brothers best and most distinguished directors. It took him a few years before he was allowed to mold his own signature style, but here, this HK version of COFFY (1973) outdoes the Grier flick in sex, violence and overall sleaze. The islands then reigning queen of exploitation, Chen Ping, plays Gao Wan Fei, the Pam Grier role. The plots are more or less the same as Gao seeks revenge against the gangsters that raped and drugged up her sister.
The ending is especially memorable where Chen plows her way into the villains home and begins working on the henchmen with a shotgun. Wang Hsia made a career out of playing villains and here he's especially sordid. Yueh Hua (COME DRINK WITH ME) plays the cop on the case and takes the role to Maurizio Merli extremes of overacting. The film wasn't a huge success in Hong Kong, but it must have been somewhere as the Shaw's commissioned Sun Chung to shoot a sequel. The rare LADY EXTERMINATOR (1977) actually made more money and was even more action packed with just as much sleaze.
Sun Chung began his career at Shaw's with an enjoyably bloody exploitation Wuxia movie entitled THE DEVIL'S MIRROR (1972). His worst picture was also an exploitation movie. FANGS OF THE COBRA (aka COBRA GIRL 1977) was a bizarre movie that defies description. It's about a timid young woman and her pet cobra. There's also a high quotient of sex and violence including the absolute best ever battle to the death between a snake and a mongoose that resembles a more violent version of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Seek out SEXY KILLER.
THE BATTLE WIZARD 1977 (HK)
Yet another wacky Shaw Brothers oddity from the late 1970's. After appearing in a string of action films for director Chang Cheh (and some for other directors), actor Danny Lee became the resident male star of a fair number of exploitation pictures of unusual quality. These include the lead role in THE SUPER INFRAMAN (1975), KILLERS ON WHEELS (1976), the salacious BRUCE LEE & I (1976) (which co-starred Betty Ting Pei, the last woman to see Bruce Lee alive), OILY MANIAC (1976) and THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977). THE BATTLE WIZARD is one of these peculiar films.
Based on the Jin Yong novel, 'Demi-Gods & Semi-Devils', it concerns Tuan Yu (Lee), a young scholar who wishes to travel through the potential dangers of the martial world despite possessing no fighting skills whatsoever. From there Tuan gets in the middle of a violent war between two clans that began over an unfaithful wife. Along the way, Tuan learns various magical martial arts styles that aid him in his journey as well as battling the vengeful Yellow Robe Man.
As per most convoluted Wuxia novels, there are numerous characters and story arcs in this picture. However, this one isn't hard to follow at all. The special effects are surprisingly potent for the time period and even better than those of some later productions. The director, Pao Hsueh Li was formerly an accomplished cinematographer and AD for Chang Cheh. He's not as well known for his directorial credits and few of his movies are memorable, but THE BATTLE WIZARD is frequently dazzling and moves at a brisk pace at just 72 minutes. There's a giant python, a Bone Cutting sword that emits small magic arrows, a fire spitting villain, a monster with a retractable metal claw, a killer gorilla and impressive optical effects enhance this sometimes violent and bloody kids movie.
THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN 1977 (HK)
Sprawling, yet opulently garish Shaw Brothers super production contains some impressive location shooting in India. This movie, based on the Peking Man, which are the fossilized remains of Hominids found in Peking, is embellished to represent a gigantic humanoid ape creature akin to King Kong. Sir Run Run Shaw tried to get his great ape epic out and into theaters before the Dino De Laurentiis picture saw release, but difficulties during filming kept that from happening. Eventually, the American KONG came out ahead of Shaw's movie in Hong Kong, and while it made money, it was seriously hindered by the fact that Hong Kong'ers had already seen the bigger budgeted US version.
Versus what was spent on it, MIGHTY PEKING MAN was below expectations in box office receipts. Going through two different Japanese effects crews, 2,000 feet of celluloid and taking a year to complete, the movie might be a chaotic mess, but it's vastly more entertaining and contains far more action than Dino's bloated spectacular could muster. Director Ho Meng Hua was working on several other movies at the same time so it's amazing the film turned out as good as it did. The movie concerns a group of explorers that head out to India to find and bring back the title creature. While in the jungle, they find a gorgeous blonde native girl who is the big apes friend. Both are brought back to civilization and much havoc is wreaked.
The beautiful and sadly departed Swiss actress, Evelyn Kraft, steals the movie away from her gigantic leading man-ster and leading male star, Danny Lee. Her more liberated and relaxed views on nudity raised some eyebrows (among other areas) amongst the more conservative Chinese while filming. She also appeared in the Shaw's hugely successful 'Charlie's Angels' clone, THE DEADLY ANGELS (1977). There are enough cliffhangers and special effects in MIGHTY PEKING MAN to fill several movies and the film has since went on to be a cult favorite of many. It was re-released on the midnight circuit in 1996 by Rolling Thunder Pictures. Also released as GOLIATHON and COLOSSUS OF THE CONGO. A recommendation of the highest order.
THE PRINCESS & THE TOXICANT 1977 (Taiwan)
Absolutely terrible geek show pseudo horror kung fu nonsense is another offshoot of Ho Meng Hua's BLACK MAGIC films. A group of young Malay maidens who live in a remote mountain region away from society secretly place deadly curses on their lovers that prove fatal should they be unfaithful, or not return within a designated time frame. The requisite up chucking of various creepy crawlies ensues. These types of live gore effects are done much better in "higher profile" movies.
This hungry fellow appears at regular intervals (he has nothing to do with the actual movie) and has his "lunch" before the camera. It should be noted that his lunch is always alive.
What makes this Taiwanese barrel scraper of interest to hardened grindhouse aficionados are the frequent scenes of animal destruction by this emaciated and quite hungry Chinaman who scarfs down various small animals right before the camera. These scenes have nothing to do with the movie whatsoever and appear to have been randomly inserted to add more sadism to what is a fairly lackluster production. There are also some ritualistic footage of cows being slaughtered for some kind of festival that are equally stomach churning. Not only that, but a laughable English voice-over would have you believe that everything you're seeing (outside of the animal deaths) is real.
In addition, overrated kung fu movie star, Carter Wong (BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA) shows up as one of the guardians of the mountain residence of the curse inducing women. He's on hand for several fight sequences that also add "appeal" for that special sleaze crowd on the hunt for a cheap thrill. PRINCESS & THE TOXICANT (aka SUCCUBARE) is definitely cheap. If animal death, mutilation and consumption offends you, you will surely want to give this one a pass.
QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC 1979 (Indonesia)
One of many weird and wild Indonesian horror films that managed to get a release outside of its native country. While these are strictly domestic affairs (featuring a number of local customs and superstitions), they offer a lot of totally bizarre imagery and incredibly gaudy, yet over the top gore effects. QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC is one such movie. It's one of the more popular to be exported from that Asian territory and easily one of the best Indo horror films. Featuring some exceptional cinematography, the movie, while showcasing more than its share of eccentricity, takes itself seriously in its depiction of black magic revenge.
During a wedding ceremony, the bride begins seeing dead people and huge snakes all around her. The husband and others deem there to be black magic at work. The groom suspects it's his former lover who is responsible so he and a group of concerned villagers get together and attempt to kill the woman by tossing her from a cliff. Rescued by an old hermit, he teaches her the black arts to get her revenge. What follows are a series of wild death scenes including one incredible scene where a poor sap is forced to rip his own head off! The noggin then proceeds to fly around biting chunks out of people!!
Released in America as BLACK MAGIC TERROR, it was marketed as a third chapter in the Shaw Brothers own BLACK MAGIC series. Starring the famous (and sadly late) Suzzanna, the beautiful Indonesian actress and resident exploitation starlet is quite good in this role. Although she looks very familiar, I think this is the only movie I have seen her starring in. QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (1979) is a great entry into Indo horror and a nice starting point to decide whether or not you wish to explore further.
THE CRIPPLED MASTERS 1979 (Taiwan)
The Shaw Brothers scored a minor success in Hong Kong with the venom movie, CRIPPLED AVENGERS (1978). The film was apparently more popular outside of HK as there was a series of similar movies such as FOUR INVINCIBLES (1979), THE CRIPPLED MASTERS and its follow up, TWO CRIPPLED HEROES (1981?). The latter two are especially notable as they featured two real life crippled men. With the controversy afforded Tod Browning's FREAKS (1932), there's no way in hell this kind of film could get made in America.
The plot is the standard revenge motif, but it's more genuine here as the two leads are either armless, or have no use of their legs. The two men eventually meet up with a Yoga master who teaches them kung fu. They then use their skills to avenge the wrongs done to them. Pathos is built up for the two men as they are ridiculed and humiliated wherever they go. Otherwise, there are scenes showcasing how the two men manage to get around and make do with their handicaps. It makes for a very bizarre experience. The armless Hon Chiu Ming is quite adept at getting around and performing tricks despite his disability. Both crippled actors starred in two movies and had supporting roles in a third called 24 SHAOLIN MOVES (1984) starring Sonny Yue.
The kung fu fights aren't all that good compared with other movies of the time period. The main reason to see this is the curiosity factor of watching two crippled men perform before the camera. However, it does get frequently grueling to see the two actors being kicked around and their impediments being exploited in this way. Director Joe Law did some better movies such as KILLER FROM ABOVE (1977) and MONKEY FIST, FLOATING SNAKE (1979). The latter is unusual in that the it's the villain who must train to fight the hero.
THE BEASTS 1980 (HK)
Gritty and extremely violent rape revenge thriller in the tradition of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978) is a surprisingly well made piece of Hong Kong nastiness. A group of teenagers take off for a weekend camping trip and run afoul of the 'Disco Boys'. They brutally rape one of the girls and kill her brother. The gang are arrested, but get off on a technicality. Former martial arts film star, Chen Sing, plays the father who goes after the gang setting traps for them in the woods and killing them in suitably grotesque fashion.
This shot whether intentionally, or unintentionally, mimics the famous poster artwork from LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972).
The violence level is strong, although the film itself isn't extremely gory. There is an uncomfortably nasty vibe throughout this movie that firmly plants this in grindhouse territory from the start right up to the finish. Also, it is so reminiscent of American trash-horror-gore movies, this picture doesn't really feel like a Hong Kong production at all. This effective, sleaze pit style obscurity is one of the most potently slimy horror movies to ever come out of Hong Kong.
Chen Sing starred and appeared in supporting roles in countless swordplay and kung fu movies mostly as a villain with a rare hero role here and there. Some of the maniacs seen here such as Chang Cheh regular, Wong Ching and the neolithic looking Kwan Kam Ming also featured in some unseamly crime thrillers from Shaw Brothers such as THE MOBFIX PATROL and THE MURDERER PURSUES (both 1981). Both actors look like they've just stepped out of a cave and are memorable faces in relation to the subject matter in this unpleasant Hong Kong horror movie.
LOST SOULS 1980 (HK)
Controversial filmmaker, Mou Tun Fei tapped into the savage extremes he would later explore with this early film in his career. Called the Chinese SALO (1975), Mou's movie is based in reality in dealing with the fate of illegal Chinese immigrants who flee to Hong Kong for a better life only to be captured by vicious slave traders. Rape, humiliation, degradation and violent death are the order of the day in this depressing movie. This is easily the strongest film on this list.
Mou was quite a talent and prone to pushing the envelope in disturbing directions which made the producers nervous and kept the censors busy. His career at Shaw Brothers was a rocky one and included the elusive crime thriller BANK BUSTERS (1978), the violent torture/Wuxia adventure, A DEADLY SECRET (1980) and one half of the troubled horror two fer, HAUNTED TALES (1980). Later on he delivered two of the most depraved motion pictures the world has ever seen with MEN BEHIND THE SUN (1988) and BLACK SUN: THE NANKING MASSACRE (1995).
Like those latter two, LOST SOULS is a true to life social document that purports to be a serious representation of horrifyingly real occurrences. Mou is successful at making his film incredibly offensive even in today's jaded climate. The violence level is so high and taken to such extremes, it's difficult to ascertain if his intentions were sound, or if they were merely for sensationalism. You decide.
FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY 1981 (Philippines)
Words don't do this miracle of celluloid justice. It's an experience one must see for themselves. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll laugh again at the sight of little Weng Weng kicking the shit out of guys twice his size. You'll thrill at the absurdity of it all. The plot has the insidious Mr. Giant kidnapping Dr. Kohler demanding he hand over his blueprints for the dreaded N-Bomb in a bid to hold the world hostage. Agent 00 (Weng Weng), gun expert and ladies man is hired to stop him.
This astounding, incredible and magnificently bad, but enormously enjoyable Filipino action movie should be on every exploitation lovers DVD shelf. Remarkably entertaining, rip roaringly hilarious "spy" flick has the worlds smallest leading actor kung fu fighting drug dealers and world dominating villains while still finding time to romance the ladies and also shake his moneymaker to an orchestral version of 'Boogie Wonderland' in a disco.
The dubbed dialog is so ridiculously over the top, you'll be wondering if it's a faithful interpretation of the script, that is if they even had one! With lots of action and Bondian style gadgets, there's even a remix of the James Bond theme heard regularly throughout the picture. You'll also recognize many of the dubbers from dozens of Italian genre movies lending their vocal talents here. Never boring and a ton of fun, you've never seen anything like Weng Weng and doubtless never will again. At least one of his other movies, THE IMPOSSIBLE KID (1982?), is obtainable on the bootleg circuit.
THE WARRIOR 1981 (Indonesia)
Arguably Barry Prima's most famous film outside of his native Indonesia. This gonzo, outrageously wacky adventure movie stars Prima as Jaka Sembung, a folk hero (from a comic book) protector of oppressed villagers whose country is invaded by Dutch colonialists. After several failed attempts to stop him, the foreign invaders hire a magician to raise an even more powerful magician from the dead to battle against Sembung. Captured and gruesomely tortured, Jaka Sembung is left to die and later saved by a kindly wizard who helps restore his strength in order to defeat the dark mystic.
Some of Prima's movies are primo examples of the wild and totally bonkers nature of Indonesian fantastic cinema. There were several additional movies in the 'Jaka Sembung' series such as THE WARRIOR & THE NINJA (1983) and THE WARRIOR & THE BLIND SWORDSMAN (1983). Others are difficult to find and even hard to find in Prima's native land where most, if not all of his films are available only on VCD along with other Indo genre fare.
Prior to Prima becoming a huge star in Indonesia with THE WARRIOR, he had done two other films. One was the atrocious PRIMITIVES (1978), an Indo version of various Italian cannibal movies. The other film was the delightfully insane SPECIAL SILENCERS (1979). Rife with hilariously horrible dialog and a high exploitation quotient, it's worth tracking down. For THE WARRIOR, fantasy and gore have been tossed into a melting pot to create a phantasmogorical stew of rudimentary effects sequences that are some of the most creatively insane to ever grace a screen. Limbs are ripped off and re-attached, eyes are gouged out and there's a near invincible villain who breathes fire being just some of the sensational weirdness you'll see in the cult item, THE WARRIOR (1981). For more on the WARRIOR series, click here.
MYSTICS IN BALI 1981 (Indonesia)
A woman named Catherine travels the world in an effort to learn the black arts indigenous to the various foreign cultures. Learning of the Leak (pronounced Lee-ack) arts, she manages to summon an old witch in the forest who teaches her this black magic, but with a price. While she is asleep at night, Catherine's head detaches from her body (called a Penanggalan a flying human head with the viscera dangling below!) and flies around draining blood and fetuses from various victims in an effort to enable the Leak Queen to become powerful enough to rule the world.
One of the most notorious foreign exploitation movies contains some seriously maddening scenes the likes of which you'll not soon forget. There's flying fireballs, magicians who turn each other into man-animals and a scene where the Penanggalan sucks an unborn fetus from a woman's vagina are some of the totally out of control moments. The Penanggalan itself, Catherine's possessed flying head with her internal organs dangling about, is a disgustingly indelible image not soon forgotten. There's also a scene where the two witches turn into snakes, a woman pukes up rats and worms, and pyrotechnic wizard duels accompanied by chintzy optical effects.
While it isn't a very good movie, the director, H. Tjut Djalil directed several other reputable exploitation movies such as LADY TERMINATOR (1988), one of the best Indo exports of all time. There are other movies that feature a Penanggalan, or similar monster. The Hong Kong film, THE WITCH WITH THE FLYING HEAD (1977?) and also the martial arts horror flick, FIREFIST OF INCREDIBLE DRAGON (1983) features a flying, still beating heart that has the ability to dismember human limbs. For acquired tastes only, MYSTICS IN BALI (1981) is recommended for bizarre world cinema seekers.
THE BLOODY PARROT 1981 (HK)
For no reason whatsoever, a shot of a naked Jenny Liang from a scene later in the movie is used during the opening credits scene. This shot, as well as other nude shots, are plastered all over the films lobby card set.
Colorful, beautifully shot, yet ridiculously overwrought horror Wuxia flick from Shaw Brothers that's (loosely) based on a novel no less. There's lots of supernatural elements, demonic possession, rampant nudity, gore, cannibalism and martial arts action amidst a confusing story about the mysterious title creature granting wishes on the Devil King's birthday should it be found by those seeking it. The story is terribly complex as is often the case when it comes to popular Wuxia novels brought to the screen. I would say it was a safe guess that this production mangled the original source novel considerably.
Still, the Scoopy Doo styled conclusion pretty much cancels out everything you'd seen during the first 80 minutes making all the supernatural shenanigans pointless. However, the sleaze and gore quotient is high so those looking for something different will find this a nice distraction. Director, Hua Shan, was known for his gritty crime films like the ultra violent BROTHERHOOD (1976) and also the camp cult classic THE SUPER INFRAMAN (1975). Hua Shan had a kinetic approach to movie making utilizing rapid cuts and lots of bloody death scenes.
Well endowed Jenny Liang is the real reason to check this out. She's naked in nearly every scene she's in. She's also the centerpiece of a pointless, showstopping possession sequence that's pretty much out of nowhere and is an excuse to have her writhe around on the floor naked. She had a brief career in HK and was seemingly vying for Chen Ping's throne of Exploitation Queen. Yang Tsing Tsing has a small role as an assassin who enjoys doing embroidery with human skin. Although a beautifully photographed, gory mess, I much prefer Hua Shan's companion feature, PORTRAIT IN CRYSTAL (1983).
THE COUNTRY OF BEAUTIES 1981 (Taiwan)
Enjoyable exploitation mess features a vast array of entertaining prospects for those seeking additional grubby substance aside from a typical kung fu fix. The director of SECRET OF THE SHAOLIN POLES (1977), BIG LAND, FLYING EAGLES (1978) and IMMORTAL WARRIORS (1979) guides this totally bonkers amazonian martial madness laced with a freaky Chinese disco soundtrack. It also sports cues lifted from FIRST BLOOD (1982) and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968).
This Taiwanese titillator is a smorgasbord of ludicrous ideas hurriedly thrown together with the result being one of the most fitfully ridiculous cinematic presentations on the planet. A regular on USA's 'Night Flight' under one of its aka's, ISLAND WARRIORS, this foreign import is greatly enhanced by some very funny moments. While the film appears to have been slapped together as they went along, there are also several plots going at the same time. There's pirates, amazon women with superhuman strength, virgin kung fu(!), a buried treasure, sex, nudity and male infants ritualistically thrown to the sea among this films highlights.
It's about an island of women who are taught to hate all men. Those captured are either used for breeding, castrated, or thrown to the sharks. Those who bear male children are also castrated. Three horny guys end up on the island and lie their way out of losing their jewels. Meanwhile, a representative from men's island attempts to reconcile with the vicious amazonian queen. In between all this, pirates frequently attack the island killing and kidnapping the women. Tastelessly flashy, this is a fairly expansive Taiwanese quickie. While the fights are average, the level of goofiness and many peculiar characters make up for it.
CALAMITY OF SNAKES 1982 (HK)
One of the nuttiest, most bat shit and balls out crazy movies you will ever see anywhere in the world. There's virtually no plot to get in the way of your jaw hitting the floor after witnessing one of the most wildly outrageous pseudo mondo Hong Kong horrors of the 1980's. If you abhor animal violence, you may want to avoid this one as there's numerous snake deaths by man as well as a five minute battle royal between the snakes and a handful of mongooses. Snakes are a delicacy as well as being used for medicinal purposes in Asia (as you'll see in a nasty street vendor sequence), but their destruction here is strictly for exploitation value.
A land developer is building a huge high rise, but the construction crew uncovers a huge snake pit. Before the reptiles can be removed safely, the greedy entrepreneur orders the snakes simply be slaughtered so construction can commense uninterrupted. The snakes are destroyed and the high rise is erected. Some time later, the occupants begin having problems with snakes throughout the building including a gigantic flying Boa(!) that seems to just appear out of nowhere. It seems the death of hundreds of snakes has set some kind of curse in motion. An old snake wrangler (who even lets live snakes crawl around in his mouth and hang from his tongue) is hired and in an absolutely incredible scene, engages the big Boa (which roars like a tiger, by the way) in a kung fu battle to the death! The film culminates with guys armed with flamethrowers taking on another pissed off giant flying killer snake that bellows like a tiger.
With literally zero plot, Chang Kee's dreadfully bad supernatural horror fest has an undeniable level of cheesy charm. You'll also recognize cues from Larry Cohen's monster baby opus, IT'S ALIVE (1973) and even Goblin's music for DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978). Chang did actually helm a few pretty good kung fu features during his career and was also an AD on the hugely enjoyable Warner-Shaw Brothers co-pro CLEOPATRA JONES & THE CASINO OF GOLD (1975). The ultimate snake movie, there's thousands of them that fly, break car windows, plan attacks and even roar like jungle animals. THE JAWS: THE REVENGE of snake movies (only way much better), CALAMITY OF SNAKES is must see entertainment for bad movie lovers everywhere.
PORTRAIT IN CRYSTAL 1983 (HK)
This Hua Shan directed horror Wuxia movie has a flimsy storyline that is little more than an excuse to showcase some downright spectacularly gory special effects sequences. Bodies explode, stomachs erupt in bloody fountains of viscera, unlucky victims are caught in nasty looking traps, impalements and other such gruesome delights are found here in one of the best of the last of Shaw Brothers exploitation spectacles before shutting down film production and moving over to become the biggest television provider in Asia.
The plot is threadbare and is a hodgepodge of recycled themes from other Wuxia movies. It's another martial world story, this time backed by a supernatural folktale. Allegedly, dropping blood on a crystal statue will cause your creation to come to life. A sculptor puts this urban legend to the test only to awaken one day and discover his crystal statue has disappeared. Murders occur among various fighting clans with evidence pointing towards a life size crystalline attacker. Pai Piao plays the sculptor who attempts to find out just what's going on.
Filled with creepy atmosphere and a gaggle of horror tinged characters including a PHANTOM OF THE OPERA type character, a gang of skull faced warriors, a villain whose flaming sword can cut the air(!) and an audaciously sexy scene where a fully nude, well endowed woman is crucified on a cross with a magical net attached to her body that gets tighter and tighter till it cuts through her skin. One of Shaw's most fast paced, violent and grim directors, Hua Shan also took the helm of the downbeat, gory and ultra violent Wuxia historical epic, USURPERS OF EMPEROR'S POWER (1983) in addition to many other violent action pictures. PORTRAIT IN CRYSTAL is a lot of empty headed fun.
THE DEVIL'S SWORD 1984 (Indonesia)
Another hugely entertaining Barry Prima fantasy gore epic just as extravagantly garish as so many other imaginatively shot Indonesian productions. Akin to THE WARRIOR (1981), this movie focuses on the sex crazed Crocodile queen who lords over an undersea kingdom. Requiring frequent sex slaves, she sets her sight on a particular village. They refuse to hand over her preferred slab of male meat so she sends a powerful and evil swordsman to slaughter everyone. Mandala (Barry Prima) shows up and battles the swordsman. It turns out both were trained by the same master. Mandala is later entrusted with the task of finding a sacred weapon known as the Devil's Sword which is the only thing that can kill the Crocodile Queen.
Again, as with QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (1979), this is a great place to start your introduction to the wild world of Indonesian exploitation movies. Decapitations, graphic dismemberments, buckets of gore, kung fu, crocodile men, lots of magical powers, flying swordsmen who use slabs of granite like a flying carpet and even an Indo version of the Flying Guillotine. There appears to have been several movies about the 'Crocodile Queen' and I am unsure if it's actual folklore, or if it's a variation on the legend of the 'Queen of the South Seas'.
Possessing an enormous amount of entertainment value, THE DEVIL'S SWORD grew on me considerably the second time. If you enjoyed any of the riotously cheesy, yet violent barbarian movies of the 1980's (particularly of the Italian variety), than this is a film for you. What separates this inspired, but low budget wonder from many of those other sword and sorcery flicks is its creativity and overall sense of adventure as well as its comic book gore. The only thing lacking (as in other Indo movies) is nudity (possibly due to the country being mostly Muslim?). Still, with so much going on here, you scarcely have time to think about it.
THE LADY TERMINATOR 1988 (Indonesia)
The director of MYSTICS IN BALI (1981) delivers one of the all time great grindhouse experiences with this massively entertaining amalgamation of the legend of the South Sea Queen and an unabashedly shameless rip off of THE TERMINATOR (1984). If you thought the Italians cornered the market on rip offs, you aint seen nothin' yet! If there was absolutely one Indonesian camp-fest to see before you die, it's LADY TERMINATOR. The film also enjoyed a good amount of success on 42nd street during the late 80's.
The plot concerns the evil Queen of the South Seas, an undersea siren who craves sex, yet kills her lovers during the height of their passion by way of an eel hidden inside her vagina. One brave man manages to elude death and uses the Queens pecker wrecker as a weapon to kill her. She swears revenge and a hundred years later, an American woman is researching the legend and ends up in the queen's castle (or some other surreal location) when her boat is sunk by a huge wave. A magical eel enters her vaginal region thereby allowing the evil Queen to be reborn. While killing a number of horny studs, she seeks out the female descendant of the man that killed her. From here on out, the film is a note for note remake of Cameron's futuristic classic.
The gun battles are extremely over the top. Brandishing a machine gun never seems to run out of bullets, one hilarious moment has her unload what seems like a hundred rounds into a soldiers body only to have her "finish" him off with a swift kick to the nuts. Then, a good magician is brought in to try and exorcise the demon, but to no avail. The finale features an A Team style band of ragtag military men armed with rockets, helicopters and an amphibian tank trying to bring down the South Seas "Cyborg". Apparently, censorship had softened in Indonesia at the time as we have nudity here to go along with the barrage of bloody violence and ridiculously dubbed dialog. Hugely recommended especially if you can get a bunch of friends together to enjoy the show.
Coming Soon! It's rough and rowdy road rage in a series of car crashin', metal mashin' mayhem!! They're either on the run, or on the road in a high octane, peddle to the metal high speed race!! The police are in hot pursuit of these lusty law breakers!! ON THE ROAD AGAIN!!! Watch for it!!!