Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Movie Review: Devil Fetus

Hong Kong cinema is nothing if not inventive!  Sometimes a low budget, a tight schedule, or other restrictions can lead to some really creative movie making in Chinese movies. 

For example, a lot of quickly produced low-budget kung fu movies from the '70s had skilled martial artists but little money for props, special effects, or convincing-looking weapons.  A unique film aesthetic developed from this that I like to call the make-anything-a-weapon film technique.  Two combatants would be fighting on the mostly empty movie set.  The first would pick up whatever is at hand, let's say a chair, and suddenly he's wielding the chair like a pro, whirling it around his head and using it to “chair” his opponent violently through the window.  The opponent lands hard, right next to a garden hose, which he picks up and whips around like he's been training with hoses all his life.  His enemy gets “hosed” with extreme prejudice until he crashes into a passing badger, which he picks up . . . well, you get the picture.  Whatever will they use next as a weapon? becomes a big part of the fun of watching this kind of thing.

The Gweilo's Movie Ratings for Devil Fetus
The Chinese movie review continues below this info box!
Category Rating
WTF Meter 4.7 out of 5
MST3K-Ability 5 out of 5
OVERALL QUALITY 2.5 out of 5
Chinese Movie Devil Fetus

Director Liu Hung Chuen
Actors Shirley Lui, Ngaai Dik, Lo Pooi Pooi, Lau Dan, Ho Pak-Kwong
Year 1983
Format Viewed VCD (Deltamac / Fortunestar VCD 7082)

What does this have to do with Devil Fetus?  This film brilliantly takes the make-anything-a-weapon film technique of a low-budget kung fu movie, but adapts it for the horror movie genre, inventing its own make-anything-be-"haunted" technique.  From the Gweilo's perspective, this makes for enormous fun!  You will spend most of the movie wondering Whatever will turn out to be “haunted” next?  A haunted car?  Check.  A haunted dog?  Check.  A haunted fetus?  Well, obviously!  A haunted steam room with moving walls?  OK, sure.  A haunted bedroom set?  Now that's just silly!  A haunted dog-entrail-eating cousin-raping teenage boy?  Wait, WTF kind of movie am I watching?!

Devil Fetus begins when a woman, for no reason at all, buys a jade vase for $2500 at an open air auction that she just happens to be passing.  (Yes, the jade vase turns out to be haunted.  Most of the objects in this movie eventually do.)  Notice my emphasis on “for no reason at all.”  That's basically this whole movie's go-to character motivation.  That evening, she takes the vase to bed with her.  Why?  For no reason at all!  And then the vase turns into the creature from the black lagoon and rapes her.  Why?  Because it's haunted!  “Because it's haunted” is the movie's second (and only) other explanation for why stuff happens.  Getting raped by the creature from the black lagoon makes the woman fall in love with the vase.  For no reason at all!

It's fun to imagine the film's director, Liu Hung Chuen, walking around the set of Devil Fetus with a special coin, one side reading “For no reason at all!” and the other “Because it's haunted!”  When anyone asked him about any of the plot holes, motivation gaps, or other things that make no sense in this movie, he'd flip the coin and angrily shout his answer.  It probably didn't really happen this way, but I'd like to believe it did.

The woman's husband gets very jealous of his wife's affair with the haunted vase, so he smashes it, which turns out to be very bad for his complexion.

And why exactly does smashing a jade vase give you a sudden outbreak of worm-infested acne in Devil Fetus?  Flip the coin.  Either answer will do.

In desperation, or because he's haunted (or probably because his face is now super ugly and worm infested) the husband leaps to his death.  The wife is now in mourning, but she's also pregnant with the jade vase's haunted fetus, the devil fetus of the movie's title.  But then she also jumps to her death when a haunted cat (!?) spooks her.  You might imagine that this would be the end of the movie.  The haunted vase is gone, the main characters are dead, and the “devil fetus” is presumably dead as well.  But no!  The haunted fetus breaks out of his dead mother's womb at the funeral.  And for no reason at all, nobody at the funeral freaks out about this.

For no reason at all, the devil fetus keeps a low profile until 10 years later.  Then the fetus starts haunting everything in sight.  Including cake.  Mmmm, haunted cake!  OK, truth be told, the movie gets very, very silly at this point.  Here's a haunted car:
You can tell it's haunted because of the "ghost" on it!

And a haunted rug:
That's right, a haunted rug!
Eventually, a Taoist priest gets involved to fight the various haunted things, and we are treated to a magical fight scene that is particularly bizarre and spectacular even by Hong Kong's standards, complete with cheesy CGI special effects that look like they were created on a Pong game.

Getting ready to bring on the silly

The movie concludes with a haunted monster.  Who gets beheaded.  Then gets beheaded.  Then gets beheaded.  Then gets beheaded.  Then gets beheaded.

Why does it need to get beheaded five times in a row?  Flip the coin.  Flip the coin.

Bottom Line of this Chinese Movie Review:  The high MST3K factor of this movie makes it a definite must-see.  Recommended!

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