ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW
The old Shaw
Brothers could even be ahead of their time if they wanted to.
Take Kuei Chih Hung's Corpse Mania (1981) for example. This film
about necrophilia is years ahead of the better-known German cult
movie, Nekromantic (1987), by Jorg Buttgereit but unfortunately,
being a Shaw movie, it doesn't go far enough.
Set at the turn of the century, rich layabout Li not only has
strong feelings for one of the prostitutes at the local brothel
but also has a messiah complex where he wants to redeem as many
of the girls as possible. Unfortunately, the prostitute he redeems
dies (presumably of tuberculosis) and Li does the next best thing
- he gives himself into his urges and has sex with the dead. A
delivery boy stumbles upon Li and reports him to the authorities.
Li is then sent to the asylum. As the story opens, Li has just
The discovery of rotted female corpses in the town's vicinity
points to Li and the police begins a manhunt for the man. Meanwhile
brothel owner Tanny Tien Ni, who appears to be stalked throughout
the film, finds herself being forced out of business when her
girls either start dying or are leaving her. An attempt by inspector
Wang Jung to flesh out the killer fails and ends in the death
of Tien's adopted daughter, Yu Tsui-ling.
If the notion of necrophilia is not controversial enough (remember
this is in the early '80s and just before "video nasties" were
big news in the United Kingdom), viewers are actually treated
to intimate scenes of sex with the dead. Not only does Lau have
his way with the recently deceased, he doesn't seem to mind if
his partner is rotted beyond recognition. This is where the squeamish
in the audience can close their eyes. While the shots are not
lewd, it must be said that it certainly takes a lot for the actress
to have her bare body covered with wriggling maggots and worms.
If you really need to ask, most of the female nudity in the film
is masked by the maggots and the make-up but there is a medium
shot of a rotted body with the crotch rather prominently shown.
Director Kuei is no stranger to the horror and exploitation genres.
His films at Shaw's included Bamboo House Of Dolls (1974) and
The Killer Snakes (1975). With its rich atmosphere, Corpse Mania
is closer to Hex (1980). Like the latter, Corpse Mania is basically
a whodunit where it is finally revealed that Madame Tien, guided
by lust and greed, is involved in a nefarious swindling scheme.
Throw in some graphic and gory killings (what's a Shaw movie without
that famous Shaw blood) and you have an exploitation movie of
the first order.
Note: Corpse Mania is released only on VCD and is not available
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