Corpse Mania (1981): …loving you was like loving the Dead [NSFW] Corpse Mania (1981): …loving you was like loving the Dead [NSFW]
Slightly NSFW due to imagery of implied nudity and potentially disturbing content *** Corpse Mania aka Si Yiu (1981) directed by Chih-Hung Kuei I... Corpse Mania (1981): …loving you was like loving the Dead [NSFW]

Slightly NSFW due to imagery of implied nudity and potentially disturbing content

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Corpse Mania aka Si Yiu (1981)

directed by Chih-Hung Kuei

I have been reviewing a few Giallos lately and I decided to explore what influence this proto-Italian genre had on film makers not native of the Apennine Peninsula.

There have been some -often surprisingly good- attempts to emulate a Giallo- vibe in some pre-slasher horror thrillers from the 70s and early 80s in the US, like Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) or Night School (1981). But the example of a non-Italian Giallo I want to present today is from pre-1997 Hong Kong. Or at least I personally file it under that genre, as the influences are undeniable, both visually and plot-wise.

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The Plot

China, somewhen in the first half of the 20th century: When the corpse of a murdered female showing traces of post-mortem sexual abuse is discovered, Inspector Chang is immediately reminded of a similar case of necrophilia that occurred a year before, for which the perpetrator, Li Zhengyuan, was committed to an asylum. Research shockingly reveals that Li has been released recently, which makes him the prime suspect of what is only the beginning of a string of murders among prostitutes of a high-class brothel.

Corpse Mania exhibits several major Giallo trademarks: It basically follows the traditional patterns of a crime story, but equipped with a shriller tone, peppered with some absurd twists and occasionally veering into horror and exploitation territory. More important than story and character are usually the style, the atmosphere and the visuals, as well as a varying amount of nudity and violence and the movie delivers on all those accounts. Even the more specific tropes are presented, as the theatrically red, paint-like blood and the masked, yet oddly stylish killer. In this case, the killer is not wearing black leather gloves like his Italian brethren, but the combination of tinted sunglasses, hat and white silk scarf make for bonus style points.

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On a technical level, Corpse Mania is surprisingly polished, particularly the glossy and elegant cinematography by Hsin Ye Lih makes the movie visually stick out among other works of filth cinema. Shooting the -only implied- scenes of necrophilia with an Emmanuelle-like soft focus filter was a very inspired idea, lending those moments a sense of disturbing sensuality.

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While the pacing isn’t as frenetic as that of other Hong Kong horror films, including Kueng’s own later works such as Bewitched (1981) and Boxer’s Omen (1983), the happenings never get boring, due to the steady direction, a charismatic lead and of course the well-placed and perfectly staged kills, as well as some really effective gross-out moments. At its best, Corpse Mania manages to combine the best of both film worlds, namely marrying the Italian sensibility for style and atmosphere with Hong Kong’s outstanding accomplishments in the field of staging and editing kinetic scenes. It’s a Shaw Bros. production after all, so naturally that resource wasn’t left untapped.

Under the surface of a classic Whodunit with a perverted twist hides a nasty little flick that I think has the potential to enthuse open-minded Western genre fans as well, as long as they are not averse to subtitles. A refreshingly atmospheric alternative to the usual Slasher- movie diet!

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Craving more Shaw Bros. horror featuring questionable partner choices? Read my review of Sex Beyond the Grave (1984)!

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DetectiveDee

Detective Dee reviews movies and sometimes TV-series. He likes to indulge in the Asian cinema, exploitation flicks and the horror genre but is no stranger to Blockbuster culture either. He writes whatever he wants, but always aims to entertain.

  • Slate_Fistcrunch

    This looks awesome!

  • Dee-abolik

    It is!

  • I_am_better
  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Wow. HK cinema produced some truly bizarre material.

  • KilliK

    maggot! (Sledge Hammer voice)

  • Bizarre and if the missus catch me watching this, she’ll really think I’m a mess! Bad enough she makes fun of my Anime, but this takes things to a whole new level!! XD

  • I’ll um, take your word on it. (;’

  • Dee-abolik

    Check it out!

  • Dee-abolik

    Like peanut butter and marmalade.

  • Wow! This is crazy!

  • Dee-abolik

    In a good way!