Saturday, November 5, 2016

Corpse Mania (1981): "Why does he keep killing people at random?" Because he's a necrophiliac serial killer, dummy

Another wacked out wonder from Kuei Chih-Hung, I reviewed his film The Boxer's Omen a few weeks ago, and I must admit I enjoyed that film much more than this one.  Corpse Mania (1981) tells the heartwarming tale of Li Chengyuan, a strange young man who's in love with Hongmei, a prostitute at Madame Fan's brothel.  Hongmei is ill with tuberculosis and unable to 'service' her usual customers, cutting down on Madame Fan's earnings.  So, when Li offers to buy Hongmei's freedom, Madame Fan is eager to sell.  The deal is made and Li and Hongmei are married quickly thereafter.  But Hongmei's tuberculosis only gets worse, however she refuses to go to a hospital and dies soon after.

This is where shit gets weird y'all, because instead of burying her and having a funeral and all that good stuff, Li keeps her corpse in his house.  Preserving it with a white powder, probably lye, which he applies to her naked corpse with a fluffy white mitten.  Yep, this dude is totally nuts.  He also has sex with her corpse apparently, though it is never shown.  On a side note, there is a good bit of nudity in the film, surprising since it's a Chinese film from the early 80s, then again not so surprising considering the title.  Eventually, Li is caught and committed to an asylum by the authorities.  Good call.  And of course, he's released a month before the point at which the film opens, when the police have discovered another woman's corpse, which has been sexually assaulted after death.  Li is the prime suspect, but is he really the one committing all these murders?  I've heard this film described as a Chinese Giallo and I think that's a fitting label because that's more or less what it turns out to be, though that's definitely not what I expected going in.

It comes off as cheesy at times, especially since the cops in the film are the worst ever.  I don't think they prevent a single murder.  The film's got some slasher moments with some good sprays of too red blood, which I enjoyed, and a good bit of gross out stuff with decaying bodies. The set design of these giant old mansions that Li lives in, covered in dust and cobwebs, give a nice gothic touch to the story.  The only genuinely creepy moments are when Li is alone with the corpses, a delusional twinkle in his eye.  Li's costume, blue silk pants and shirt with a white scarf wrapped around his mouth, sunglasses, and a black fedora, wielding an oversized, shiny, butcher knife is a sight to behold.  Not going to lie, it's most likely going to be what I wear next Halloween and no living soul will get the reference, which is how i like it.  Anyways, I won't give away the twist, I'll just say they fooled me.  All in all, it's an interesting film, with plenty of nudity and gore, but those are probably the most notable features.  I was kind of expecting more of a Chinese Jack the Ripper type story, but that was not the case.  It was not nearly as insane as the title suggests, and absolutely not as crazy as I expected after seeing The Boxer's Omen, which was one of the strangest films I've ever seen.

So, there's my two cents on Corpse Mania, as promised.  I still intend to see more of Kuei Chih-Hung's filmography, though this was not quite as manic as I wanted it to be, I still want to see more of his stuff.

My Rating:   3 Maggots out of 5

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