Here’s another crazy Shaw Brothers film from Hong Kong. The Shaw Brothers were well-known for making ultra-cheap exploitation fare that ranged from kung-fu flicks to children’s fantasies and giant monster movies to gangster films. Of course, horror films were a staple of the Shaw Brothers studio.
A hard-working cab driver is married to an exotic dancer. One evening the cab driver has the bad luck to pick up a witch doctor that happens to practice black magic. The witch doctor warns the driver that his contact with black magic can only be harmful before he disappears into an eerie forest. Meanwhile, the dancer is seduced by another man and they begin an affair. One evening they are out when they have an argument, and the man leaves the dancer by the side of the road. Along come some punks who rape and accidentally kill the girl, leaving her blood-soaked body dangling above a door. Through some supernatural event, the cab driver is mysteriously called to the location of the murder where he finds his wife’s body. The grief stricken cabbie searches out the witch doctor to help him exact revenge on his wife’s murderers. The witch doctor then digs up the wife’s corpse and starts his magic rituals, killing everyone in his path.
This film is infamous because until just a few years ago it was only available on the black market, as a grainy bootleg video. Image Entertainment has now released the film in all its uncut glory as part of its Shaw Brothers line. Part of that infamy no doubt is due to the subject matter as one scene shows the rotting corpse making love to the spirit of one of her killers. But while we have plenty of blood and gore—including a mutant demon baby that explodes from a pregnant woman’s stomach—the film was made well before CGI was available, so some of the effects, especially the female corpse, are a little on the cheap side. But that’s what makes these films so fun, right?
Featuring tons of sex and nudity and plenty of blood and gore, the film also has several kinetic kung-fu fights as well as some pretty impressive optical effects throughout. The scene where the female corpse levitates and a cartoon-like animated “spirit” makes love to it has to be seen to be believed. It isn’t as disgusting as it sounds and while the corpse is fairly fake, the scene is nevertheless impressive as it uses physical effects mixed with opticals to create a psychedelic atmosphere rarely experienced, even in Hong Kong films. The ending is especially frenetic as the demon baby bursts out of the mother (in a scene reminiscent of the then-relatively-recent Alien) and attacks some partygoers in what can only be described as a total steal from John Carpenter’s The Thing.
In the end, we have all the ingredients necessary for a classic exploitation film, no matter what the language. This one is fun and outrageous—absolutely amazing to watch: sex, gore, floating corpses, mutant babies, kung fu fighting, black magic, and scenes stolen from classic American horror films. Many horror films are described as “rollercoaster rides”; that is an absolutely accurate description for this film.