Friday, May 8, 2009

The Eternal Evil of Asia

This was one of the first Asian horror movies I ever bought, dating back to the fabled year 2000 when a co-worker brought in a copy of Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind and gave me the bug for more. Being a budding young Amazon enthusiast, I went on there and checked their Asian Horror category, which at the time consisted of three movies: Encounters, Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, and this film. It has remained a cherished part of my collection ever since.

While the film works on pretty much every level, if there is a weakness it would be with the plot. It’s the fairly standard “group of friends somehow wronged someone earlier in life, and now he’s back for revenge” type deal, though this one admittedly has a few nice twists. For one, it’s pretty much 100% the guy’s fault that they wronged him – the villain is a wizard, see, who tried to use a love potion on the main character to get him to fall in love with the wizard’s sister, only the main character’s friends accidentally got the potion instead. After a nice softly-lit orgy, she awakens, sees she’s attracted the wrong people, flips out and tries to kill them, and is accidentally killed in the process. Totally not our protagonists’ fault in any way, though this should be considered a strong cautionary tale of why one should never vacation in Thailand, for any viewers out there not already warned off by all the trannies.

So, with the plot more or less brushed aside, what does this film have to really offer? Well, it has a lot of great humor to it, such as when the evil wizard punishes our hero by using a voodoo doll to make him impotent right when he’s getting it on with his fiancee. That’s just cold. There’s also a good deal of fun with the unconcernedly terrible subtitles, which not only mutilate the English language (and presumably also whatever Asian language is sitting on top of them, though I haven’t sat any Asian friends down with the movie and had them verify this), but also sometimes says the exact opposite of what the character is actually saying.

Finally, there’s the unavoidable topic of the women in the film, who are tremendously attractive, especially our main character’s fiancee, played by Lily Chung, who IMDB helpfully tells me was Hong Kong’s representative for Miss Universe 1987. I hope she won, because she totally deserves it. Hell, the film’s climax alone, which plays out pretty much exactly how The Invisible Maniac SHOULD have played out, should have won her the title. If, you know, this hadn’t been made almost a decade later, which I feel is an unfair sticking point.

Rating: *** ½

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