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Issue #198a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES February 9th, 2004

Oily Maniac
(1976; Shaw Brothers)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Yau gwai ji
Mandarin: You gui zi
English: Oily Monster

While trying to save his daughter, Yue (KISS OF DEATH's Chen Ping), from being molested, Lin Yang-ba (Ku Feng) accidentally kills one of the attackers and is sentenced to death. Thirty minutes before his execution, he asks to see legal assistant Sheng Yung (Danny Lee Sau-yin) in the hope that he will protect Yue in future. Crippled by polio, Yung (who has been a platonic friend of Yue since childhood) is convinced that he can be of no use but Yang-ba imparts to him an ancient Malay spell and urges him to use it. Yung performs the necessary ritual and is transformed into a slimy, misshapen fiend with glowing yellow eyes and great strength. Relatives of the man Yang-ba killed break into Yue's home that evening with the intention of finishing what he started but the now-monstrous Yung appears and eliminates one of them. Sprinting back home before the police arrive, Yung collapses in exhaustion and returns to his rightful form. In attendance at a rape trial one of his firm's lawyers is working, Yung learns that the defendant's claims were merely a set-up from which she and the shyster are able to profit. Covering himself in diesel fuel, Yung transforms back into the monster and kills the woman, causing her boyfriend to be charged for the crime (so much for heroism!). He next preys upon an unlicensed Japanese female doctor whose botched cosmetic surgery procedure ruined a popular singer's career. More miscreants soon meet a slimy demise but Yung's sympathetic co-worker (Lily Li Li-li) eventually discovers his secret.

Based on a folk tale and shot predominantly in Malaysia, this Shaw Brothers horror thriller garners unintentional laughs right from its opening shot of the title fiend emerging from the depths, accompanied by John Williams' famous "dun-dun-dun-dun" theme from JAWS. The music announces the creature's every appearance, desperately trying to lend menace to a villain that resembles a charred and melted version of the Michelin Tire man. Adding to the silliness is the fact that Yung cannot transform without somehow coating himself in oil, leading to scenes of Danny Lee desperately limping through construction sites and industrial areas looking for a barrel he can dive into (luckily, even coconut oil will do in a pinch!). The special effects are amusingly dire: the maniac can transform into an animated glob, allowing him to flow under doors and even travel through plumbing. While these moments are memorable in all of the wrong ways, they are topped by the later sight of the undulating oil slick zooming along the highway in hot pursuit of a car, which it then proceeds to ooze all over, a la THE BLOB! It appears that no one was quite sure just how the FX team was going to pull the various set pieces off during post-production because the attack sequences are marred by jumbled cutting, and the action choreography is well below the usual Shaw standard. While OILY MANIAC is usually puerile enough to seem like a movie pitched at children, it is still a Shaw exploitation title, so director Ho Meng-hua (THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN, BLACK MAGIC II) periodically works in dollops of nudity and sexual violence. The storyline also incorporates some gratuitously lurid details and throwaway moments (for example, not only is the aforementioned doctor a butcher but she also transforms prostitutes into "virgins" in order to bilk wealthy johns), which has the affect of making the movie seem utterly schizophrenic on top of its other offenses. Terry Liu Hui-ru (who appeared opposite Lee the previous year as the whip cracking leader of invading aliens in THE SUPER INFRAMAN), Wang Hsia, Hua Lun, and Angela Yu Chien co-star, and Yuen Cheung-yan can be glimpsed during the climax as one of several policemen who get hurled around by the rampaging pile of glop.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Ku Feng (left) and Danny Lee. Image courtesy Intercontinental.

Terry Hu and Wang Hsia. Image courtesy Intercontinental.

Danny Lee and Lily Li. Image courtesy Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #100246 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Post-synced Mandarin Language Track

Optional Subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (2.35:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

83 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains moderate violence, sexual violence, nudity, and gory scenes

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Ontario: R
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]


Offered in anamorphic 2.35:1, the image is quite clean, though not as impressive as most of Celestial's restorations thus far. The cinematography tends to be hazy and grainy, with light hues, so the telecine operator is most likely not to blame for the movie's bland, overly bright appearance. Tracking shots tend to display some curvature at the edges of the image but this is the fault of the CinemaScope lens used in production. The Mandarin language track is crisp but faint electronic noise can be heard in the background throughout most of the running time. The English subtitles claim that the movie is set in 1965 but the fashions and decor are pure 70s. A few extras are on offer, including video promos for this and four other titles, two small photo galleries, a single solitary screen of "production notes," and abbreviated bios/filmographies for Lee, Chen, Li, and Ho.

OILY MANIAC is available at Poker Industries.

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