Issue #237          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES           November 8th, 2004

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(1980; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Che
Mandarin: Xie
English: Evil


RATING: 6/10


Constantly mistreated by her cruel, alcoholic husband Chun-yu (Wang Jung), frail Chan Sau-ying (BLACK MAGIC's Tanny Tien Ni) awaits certain death from tuberculosis. New servant girl Yi-wah (Chen Szu-chia) takes pity on her mistress' plight but, after suffering Chun-yu's abuse once too often, the pair proceed to drown him one evening. They dump his body in a near-by pond but Sau-ying believes that the man's bloated corpse has risen from the bog to seek vengeance. Yi-wah dismisses her claims as the delusions brought about by guilt and her illness but it appears that the house is indeed being haunted by a corpse that will not be easily appeased.

Tanny Tien Chen Szu-chia Wang Jung

I will refrain from revealing more but, as can be discerned from the synopsis, DIABOLIQUE was an inspiration here and the climax recreates one of the most memorable moments from KWAIDAN. As is customary with his work in this genre, director Kuei Chi-hung (THE KILLER SNAKES, KILLER CONSTABLE) imbues this Shaw Brothers period production with macabre visual touches (the lake is represented via an atmospheric indoor set decorated with slimy green plant life and bathed in dry ice fog), but does aim primarily for frights this time, rather than blood and bile. In fact, there are ultimately too many false scares but they do add to the enjoyment of this energetic and engagingly weird black comedy, which builds to a marvellously frenzied climax. Having exhausted all other options, the surviving protagonist enlists the aid of an elderly priestess to perform a ceremony that will drive the relentless spirit from the house. Her naked female assistant (who obviously has a second career as an exotic dancer) is covered with religious symbols and becomes possessed, writhing around on the floor while the priestess beats her with a shoe and then spits black dog's blood on the girl. The latter acts are genuine components of some rituals but I am not so sure about the rest of the ceremony, which is a combination striptease routine and '60s acid freakout. As mentioned, the gore is not as prevalent as that seen in some of Kuei's other work but squeamish viewers are warned that one sequence features a live snake bisected with a cleaver. Perennial kung fu movie sidekick Hon Kwok-choi is memorable in a supporting role as an obnoxious travelling salesman who comes calling at absolutely the wrong time.

Chen Szu-chia (left), Wang Jung Gwai-ah!  KWAIDAN, anyone?


Mild staining is apparent during some early shots bathed in smoke but the presentation is predominantly clean and colorful. Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin options are included; the removable English subtitles are synced to the Mandarin version, making it the best option for Westerners. The tracks have, thankfully, been left in their original state and the monaural audio displays no problems detrimental to one's appreciation of the movie. Supplementary materials are few, with only some video promo spots, a small photo gallery, and bios/filmographies. Beware of the Malaysian VCD, as local censors have reportedly removed the entire climax of the movie!

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Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 3 Only
  • Intercontinental Video Inc. #102363
  • Dolby Digital 2.0 Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 90 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Ontario: R
  • Quebec: 18+
  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • Contains moderate violence and horror, cruelty to animals, and nudity


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful