Sunday, February 9, 2014

CORPSE MANIA (1981)

It has been literally forever since I gave time to a Hong Kong thing on here (and I've learned how to deal with aspect ratio and screenshots over the past four years).  When I see a title like CORPSE MANIA, I wondered how closely the translation follows the original Mandarin or whatever.  This film's real name is SI YIU, but Google Translate refused to recognize it.  Then I discovered that you can make the Google Translate robot woman voice say "clitoris" and the like, so the SI YIU research ended there.


Anyway, CORPSE MANIA as a title suggests that things are going to be off the chain in this movie.  Corpses should abound and there will probably be lots of shrieking and blood.  As it turns out, a fair portion of the film is pretty standard fare.  It's much more of a thriller than a horror film and one could almost call it giallo-esque.  A brothel in Hong Kong is our setting, where a few corpses start to pile up.  The presumed cause is infamous necrophiliac Li.   


Corpses come in two types in CORPSE MANIA.  A minority of them arrive like peaceful sleeping versions of their alive selves.  Stick them in an expensive box and then into some inexpensive dirt!  But mostly corpses here swarm with maggots, ridiculous bucketfuls of them, in the peak scenes of the slow and meandering first half of the film.  


Li is back in town, opting for the Michael Jackson/Invisible Man look that you use when trying to avoid attention.


The first half to two-thirds of CORPSE MANIA doesn't really deliver on the title's lurid promise.  The lighting choices were very effective and some of the dialogue was ace (I especially liked the exasperated brothel manager saying that necrophiles should be chopped up "by ten hunks").  But a lot of it drags or feels like a suspenseless suspense movie.  I had to gird my loins to pay attention.  That changes once this turns into a kung-fu movie for three whole minutes.


The last third or so of the film just goes nuts in a beautiful murderous way.  We get the aforementioned martial arts mini-battle, lots of stabbing and gunshots, the movement of a massive troupe of police that looks like something you'd see on Broadway, and other assorted mayhem.


It's silly to call a movie with, what, five corpses total "CORPSE MANIA".  But the film at least sticks the landing and, by delaying our gratification until the crazy gooey end, causes us to leave semi-satisfied, leaping over our lowered expectations.  2/3 of an average movie + 1/3 of a pretty great movie=???


RATING: (IDK) 6

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