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October 25, 2008

Corpse Mania

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Si Yiu
Kwei Chih-Hung - 1981
Image Entertainment Region 1 DVD

Corpse Mania owes so much of its style and substance to Mario Bava. There's the killer with the fedora and the barely seen face covered with a white scarf. There's the unusual use of color with whole rooms drenched in blue or red. Corpse Mania isn't a remake of Bava's Blood and Black Lace, but Kwei Chih-Hung must have written some copious notes before executing his own screenplay. In the little more than fifteen years since Bava's film was released, new freedom in film content allowed Kwei to go beyond Bava in sex and violence.

Hong Kong giallo almost describes Corpse Mania. Besides the usual plot points of a mad slasher on the loose, blackmail, and a misdirected police investigation, there's necrophilia. That in itself isn't novel, being the stuff of Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker. What we have here is rotting dead girl covered with maggots necrophilia. The actual act is suggested under a heavy veil of gauze, but there are enough images to let the viewer figure out that sometimes love is better left on a platonic level.

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As it stands, Corpse Mania is one of the more unusual productions from the Shaw Brothers factory. In addition to being one of the studios rare forays into horror, the film takes place, for no clear reason, in the 1930s based on the couple of cars and telephones used by the characters. Prostitutes are murdered, all from the brothel of Madame Lan. Li, had bought the freedom of one of the girls when she was too ill to work, and was sentenced to a psychiatric institute when his act conducted with his recently deceased bride was revealed. Li has only been recently released from the institute when the killings occur.

Those who enjoy Italian horror film may be the most apt to appreciate the familiar tropes - the large, dilapidated house full of cobwebs, the young woman pursued on a dark and lonely street by the killer flashing his blade, the generous splashes of blood. There is a certain yuck factor that might challenge some of the more extreme moments in films by Lucio Fulci or Sergio Martino. Still, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Corpse Mania is a pretty good tribute to the pioneers of giallo.

To find out more accurately the cast and crew of Corpse Mania, check out MKMDb. That's right, the Hong Kong Movie Database.

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Posted by peter at October 25, 2008 12:27 AM

Comments

This looks great! I'm going to try to give it look next week since it seems like it would make for some terrific Halloween viewing.

Posted by: Kimberly at October 25, 2008 04:08 PM