The Oily Maniac (1976)

The Oily Maniac in action!
The Oily Maniac in action!

Directed by Meng-Hua Ho.
Starring Danny Lee, Ping Chen, Lily Li, Lun Hua, Hsieh Wang and Angela Yu Chien.

He's oily and he's a maniac
He’s oily and he’s a maniac
There's no escaping the Oily Maniac...
There’s no escaping the Oily Maniac…

Written by Lam Chua (as Tsai Lan), this Malaysia-set story revolves around disabled seeker of justice Sheng Yung, who works for a law firm and finds himself compelled to use a spell that turns him into a supernatural, oily being, enabling him to protect his childhood sweetheart Little Yue (Chen) from lowlife characters.

Sheng loves Little Yue, though the film reveals that his disability stops her from returning the affection
Sheng (Danny Lee) loves Little Yue, though the film reveals that his disability stops her from returning the affection
Sheng dribbles beneath the door as a viscous puddle...
Sheng dribbles beneath the door as a viscous puddle…
...and then turns into the roaring Oily Maniac to kill Little Yue's would-be rapist attacker!
…and then turns into the roaring Oily Maniac, ready to kill Little Yue’s would-be rapist attacker!

Yung, however, begins to use his sludgy alter ego to inflict muddy vigilante justice on various other deceitful characters, including an unlicensed female surgeon who botches boob jobs and an actress that accuses an innocent neighbour of rape in court. Once Yung discovers that his corrupt, sleazoid boss is in cahoots with Yue’s new boyfriend, in a scheme that will eventually lead to Yue’s rape and suicide, events rapidly spiral out of control, climaxing in confrontations with machete-wielding thugs and the local cops. 

An example of less than perfect breast surgery...
An example of less than perfect breast surgery…
The Oily Maniac runs amok in an operating theatre!
The Oily Maniac runs amok in an operating theatre!
 The female surgeon gets splatted!
The female surgeon gets splatted!

This Shaw Brothers release, sporting pretty decent production values, is a crazy blend of 70s-style exploitation, horror and action, with some courtroom dramatics added to the mix. 

Courtroom shenanigans
Courtroom shenanigans

The movie’s unique selling point, of course, is the Oily Maniac himself, initially brought to life when Sheng kneels at the bottom of a pit he’s dug in the centre of his living room, chanting a special spell as the hole fills with water. Sheng is submerged beneath the muddy waters… then rises back into view, transformed into a yellow-eyed, mud & oil-coated humanoid monster… as the music from JAWS plays on the soundtrack! This bizarre, grungy creature has an exposed, red beating heart and emits an echoey roar similar to the kind of sounds the monsters made in the cartoon series SCOOBY DOO, WHERE ARE YOU! 

Sheng performs the ritual that will turn him into the Oily Maniac
Sheng performs the ritual that will turn him into the Oily Maniac
Look into my glowing, yellow eyes...
Look into my glowing, yellow eyes…

The Oily Maniac can turn into an animated, not particularly realistic mud puddle, which slithers around the place, before forming back into a slime-covered humanoid. We see this cartoony splash of goo zipping about floors and walls quite a few times in the movie, accompanied by the JAWS music! After his various attacks, the Oily Maniac always changes back into Sheng, who wakes up lying on the floor of his home, covered in oil splotches.

Here comes the animated slime puddle!
Here comes the animated slime puddle!

Whenever Sheng wants to become the monstrous maniac, he must coat himself in oily substances to trigger the transformation, so we get to see him do such things as pump diesel over his body at a gas station or submerge himself in a barrel of boiling oil near a road construction site. 

Once he’s the Oily Maniac again, he can either slither about as that squirmy puddle or go on the rampage as the lumbering, blobby beast. Interestingly, when it suits him, the Oily Maniac ceases his slow, cumbersome mode of walking and becomes able to leap around very agilely indeed, dashing across rooftops and running over the top of vehicles.

At one point the Oily Maniac spits out oil...
At one point the Oily Maniac spits out oil…
...which splatters all over his attackers!
…which splatters all over his attackers!

Memorable set pieces include the glistening, oil-coated monster rising from a pink bathtub to attack a victim and a rampage through an operating theatre that specialises in restoring women’s hymens!

A hymen-replacement operation that will soon be interrupted by the Oily Maniac!
A hymen-replacement operation that will soon be interrupted by the Oily Maniac!
It came out of the bathtub!
It came out of the bathtub!
As a scared lover prays for mercy, the muddy monster paces away after killing his latest victim in her pink bathroom
As a scared lover prays for mercy, the muddy monster paces away after killing his latest victim in her pink bathroom

Danny Lee, years before starring in John Woo’s THE KILLER (1989), dabbled in several fantastical Shaw Brothers productions in the 1970s, including THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977) and THE SUPER INFRAMAN (1975). But it’s in THE OILY MANIAC that Lee gets to really immerse himself in an oddball, weirder-than-weird tale. As Sheng, who is disabled (due to contracting polio as a child), he is initially a browbeaten character inspired to become a powerful, avenging pile of slime to protect Little Yue, but his motivations become increasingly muddled, leading to him killing nurses simply because they happen to work for the unlicensed surgeon. 

The Oily Maniac seeks revenge on Sheng's shady boss as he canoodles with his secretary in a car
The Oily Maniac seeks revenge on Sheng’s shady boss as he canoodles with his secretary in a car

Constantly finding excuses to feature bare female breasts and various misogynistic moments, THE OILY MANIAC is certainly sleazy much of the time, intermingling these exploitative sequences with avenging monster action that predates Troma’s THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984).

The gooey glob-thing in action!
The gooey glob-thing in action!

The scenes featuring the vengeful mud-man are actually not particularly gory, but they’re certainly outlandishly enjoyable to watch, culminating in a couple of large-scale showdowns, where we see the Oily Maniac transfixed with blades and shot at by the police. But there’s no stopping this sebaceous mound of muck, who can always turn into a pool of cartoon sludge, so when his slimy arm and his oily head get chopped off at one point… they simply regrow again! Finally, it is a co-worker, who loves Sheng, that ends the Oily Maniac’s reign of vigilante terror by setting him on fire.

Oily Maniac's arm is cut off...
Oily Maniac’s arm is cut off…
...but it grows back!
…but it grows back!
Oily Maniac's head is cut off...
Oily Maniac’s head is cut off…
...but it grows back!
…but it grows back!
Don't ya love the look of this muddy mutha?!
Don’t ya love the look of this muddy mutha?!

A colourful, cruel, crazy Shaw Brothers B-movie gem. 

UK DVD cover
UK DVD cover

Okay then, one more shot of this oily beauty…

Echoey growl!!!
Echoey growl!!!

4 thoughts on “The Oily Maniac (1976)

  1. Yeah, this one was a lot of fun as a fairly random discovery last year. Kept it on my queue since it would probably be a good repeater, especially when MonsterKid friends drop by for a movie night.

    Like

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