This Chinese movie from the Shaw Brothers Studios is very much in the tradition of the goofy, random monster movies that proliferated in the second half of the twentieth century. This movie making strategy takes anything, anything at all, and makes it into a monster. The monsterfication of ordinary things was often done by making them extra big, or extra strong, or maybe “radioactive.” A reliable hallmark of this technique was ominous, dramatically building music, the slowly rising “dun, dun, dun, dun, DUN!” that we hear whenever the monstrous ant or lizard or shark or doll or janitor or dog or toddler was approaching its next victim.
The monster in this Shaw Brothers movie is a relatively ordinary guy with crippled legs . . . dun, dun, dun, dun, DUN . . . who is covered in oil! And once he's covered in oil, he becomes far from ordinary. He becomes . . . dun, dun, dun, dun, DUN . . . maniacal, of course! Like some kind of petroleum based Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he can't control his killing urges when he's gotten all oily:
|Ah, the ethical dilemma of reluctant monsters the world over!|
Oil: So many unexplored uses in modern, prosthetic medicine!
He's SO invincible, you start hoping that one of his victims will wise up and attack him with a giant bar of soap. Alas, that never happens. And if invincibility wasn't enough, he's also able to travel really quickly by turning into a slippery, sliding oil puddle (or oil slick, if he's at sea):
He can go wherever oil can go, and he's pretty unstoppable. He can even flow through the city water system . . . dun, dun, dun, dun, DUN . . . into your tub!
How does he get these special oily super powers by just oiling himself up? This old guy tries to explain it to the hero:
|"Your father was a shaman; sort of exorcist."|
|Geeze, that can't really be what the script says, can it?|
|Treasure map, etched out in . . . dun, dun, dun, DUN . . . OIL!|
The Oily Maniac treasure map apparently tells our crippled hero to dig a big hole in the middle of his floor and sit in it. Witness the result:
I should mention that this Shaw Brothers movie also tries to be some sort of weirdly sleazy romance. (Buyer beware: Many Shaw Brothers movies of the 1970s have a weirdly sleazy vibe to them.) Unfortunately, the hero of Oily Maniac gets the romance parts of this movie utterly and completely wrong. Like this date:
Worst Date Ever?
Was that supposed to be funny? I can't tell.
|Tempting Fate: You should never say this in a horror film!|
Once you realize what the director is doing, this becomes quite an impressive feat. Oily maniac wantonly and carelessly kills people left right and center, spattering oil and blood all over the screen, but each murder leaves you oddly cheered. “Yep, he had it coming,” you'll say. “And so did all those others.”
Bottom Line of this Chinese Movie Review: Cheesy, slow at times, and rather genre-confused. But hey, it's called Oily Maniac. What did you expect? If you are the kind of person who would even consider watching a 1970's movie called Oily Maniac in the first place, then sure: for you, it's recommended.