Starring Simon Reed, Harry Carter, Henry Steele, Joe Nelson, Chiang Tao, Lu Feng, Chen Hung-Lieh, Angela Mao and Danny Lee, directed by ‘Bruce Lambert’.
Two dice, taken from hopping vampires, will help Mr Baker, known as the Gambling King, take over the whole gambling world! But Roger, the brother of a gambler forced to kill himself, promises to get revenge, which he does dressed as a white-clad ninja!
You’ve got to grudgingly admire the don’t-give-a-f*ck plotting in producer Tomas Tang’s spliced-together specials from Filmark International. This particular film sticks new vampire & ninja content (probably shot by action director Chiang Tao and not Godfrey Ho, who is always credited as director for these kind of movies) into footage from another film called THE STUNNING GAMBLING, which stars Danny Lee and Angela Mao, featuring gamblers betting their lives on the outcome of games, including a super-fast card-dealing challenge.
With ninjas being taught anti-sorcery magic by a priest, seemingly unconnected scenes located on a war movie set and in a rowdy barroom, green & white ninjas with the ability to vanish and reappear, and a briefly-seen female ghost called Rose, NINJA: THE VIOLENT SORCERER ends with the two ninja heroes and a good priest combating multiple hopping vampires and an evil priest in a normal-looking suburban living room.
Starring Ivy Ling Po, Chin Han, Chen Feng-Chen, Hung Sing-Chung and Tung Li, directed by Pao Hsueh-Li, with action direction by Simon Chui Yee-Ngau and Chui Chung-Hok.
A spike-fingered woman with black hair and white robes stabs men in the back of their necks with her poisoned metal talons, turning them into zombie-like minions, who dutifully carry her around in a coffin. Other men are also attacked, becoming members of the undead after their female assailant shoots metal pins into their necks. Three brothers decide to take on the local villains, including a hunchback and Chang Kung Chin, but two of the bros are transformed into undead vassals, leaving just Lu Tien Bao to avenge them.
Interestingly, the spike-fingered woman is revealed to be the heroine, sleeping in her coffin merely to seem spooky and the minions she has zombified are actually bad men. Her sister, however, is really nasty and will turn anyone into the living dead with her metal pins. Lu and good sis join forces to rid the land of this evil, which is headquartered in the temple of Chang Kung Chin.
Atmospheric, evocatively-lit sets and the story’s horror trappings definitely help this early 70s Shaw Brothers wuxia stand out. I love the cheeky ending too, where the heroine finally tells Lu what her name is… but the shot freezes, meaning we never learn what she’s called!
Starring Lin Hsiao-Lau, Tu Chin and San Peng, directed by Chao Chung-Hsing and Chen Chun-Liang. A Chin Ke Film Company production.
High up in the Himalayas is the Peach Garden, an area of eternal springs, flowers and birds, where it never snows, thanks to the natural power absorbed by the Sword of the Sun. But a blue-faced, red-haired, fanged villain called King Devil attacks this tranquil place, steals the sword and kills the master of the garden and his wife, but they manage to save their baby by placing him inside a giant, flying Holy Peach! The huge peach whizzes down from the mountains, causes some trouble at an old couple’s home, then splits open to reveal the baby, which the couple adopt and name Peach-Kid.
When King Devil’s evil forces begin to attack the land, a fairy helps Peach-Kid grow up super-fast, so that he becomes a strong teenager (actually played by actress Lin Hsiao-Lao), who is ultimately able to defeat King Devil’s horrible army, which includes white-clad minions in fright wigs, a strongman with a spiked mace called Hercules, horned, green-haired warriors, a dude called Aeolus, who uses a big bag of compressed wind to defeat people, and a villainess with a flamethrower staff named Grandma from Devil Island.
This Taiwanese flick, loosely based on Japanese folklore hero Momotarō, boasts POWER RANGERS-style villains with colourful wigs, a lot of fun fantasy fighting, and a bunch of pretty novel moments, like the fight with a group of trident-wielding shark men, who have lumpy craniums and dorsal fins on their backs. As the story progresses, Peach-Kid is aided by hefty dude Melon and the former ‘guardian angels’ of Peach Garden, which are three super-powered kids that can become a bird, a gibbon and a dog… and are called Tiny Cock, Tiny Monkey and Tiny Dog.
Things to look out for include King Devil’s showdown with a puppet creature that’s made up of lots of large peaches, some gags involving drinking gibbon urine or getting pissed on by a giant peach, and a brief scene where Peach-Kid blows air down a tube into Aeolus’ mouth, which causes his head to explode! Erm, this is a children’s film, right?
Directed by Taylor Wong, starring Yee Tung-Shing, Yu On-On, Kara Wai, Lo Lieh, Alex Man and Shih Kien. From the wonderful Shaw Brothers studio.
Long Jianfei gets kicked into a chasm, but he is fortunately saved by a gold-skinned, winged creature called Dameng, which is kind of like a small dragon with the face of a friendly triceratops. Dameng takes Jianfei to its blind master, called Flaming Cloud Devil, who becomes Jianfei’s foster father.
Jianfe is taught Buddha’s Palm skills by his new dad and he’s soon swept along in a series of confrontations, as various old martial arts masters, including Sun Biling and Bi Gu of East Island, settle scores, team-up, argue or are betrayed by others.
With lots of leaping, spinning and flying characters from such groups as Ten Thousand Swords Clan and Dark Moon Clan, that perform outlandish skills like Heavenly Foot and Three Invincible Palms, this film is swamped with colourful cartoon animation force-beams, cell animated daggers, cartoon flames and so much more!
One character uses Tortoise Style: the ability to fake death, whilst another master lets loose with the Wrath of Ten Thousand Buddhas Stroke, which results in loads of cartoon buddhist swastikas flying everywhere, as trees break, lightning flashes and a storm rages! That’s quite a technique!
The soundtrack, very often loud and discordant, adds to the wild, off-kilter nature of the movie, helping to compliment such over the top visuals as the villain known as Foot Monster using a super-extendable leg to attack adversaries, a kid with a large facial cyst from which he can squirt acidic fluid, turning his victims into green mush, plus the unsheathed Golden Dragon Dagger that looks and sounds like a lightsaber!
BUDDHA’S PALM is a riotous amalgamation of sounds, cell animated power effects, insane fantasy super-fu skills and larger than life characters. Wonderful stuff!
Directed by Chang Hsin-Yi, starring Liu Shang-Chien, Chang Yi and Hsia Ling-Ling.
A small fireball zips from space, falls to Earth and enters the belly of a pregnant queen during childbirth. This kills the queen, unfortunately, as a large, red, veined blob of flesh instantly shoots from her womb. The distraught king chooses not to destroy the meaty ball and has it floated away down a river in a basket instead. Seven dwarves living in Happy Forest discover the throbbing flesh-glob, which splits open and becomes a cute baby, who the dwarves adopt and call Yaur-gi. Years later Yaur-gi, now an attractive young woman, encounters Prince Yur-juhn, who is travelling through the forest on his way to visit the king of the Ku Shien kingdom.
Yaur-gi falls in love with the prince and eventually discovers that she’s the daughter of the Ku Shien king, but many trials and tribulations lie in store for her and the prince, as foxy witch-exorcist Gi-err and shifty sorcerer Shiah-ker set out to usurp the kingdom and take over Yaur-gi’s mind.
Also known as THRILLING BLOODY SWORD, there’s much to enjoy in this Taiwanese fantasy flick, including a cyclopean demon-monster and a multi-necked, fire-breathing dragon-beast known as the Nine-Headed Siren, which are actually the creations of Gi-err and Shia-ker, who secretly unleash the creatures so that they can look like saviours by destroying them.
We also have a fun development involving the prince being turned into a bear, then transformed back to his normal self, after which he attains some flamboyant black armour and a weapon called the thunder sword. He subsequently goes on a quest to retrieve a magic box, which involves him fighting a winged monster resembling a low-rent Mahar from AT THE EARTH’S CORE (1976), some folks with flippers called Frog Sirens, some ‘immortal’ warriors who all have a fatal weak spot, a kind of ghost-blob, a giant, floating, gnashing pair of teeth and a couple of disembodied, fleshy monster feet! After a pacy fight with these feet, the limbs finally connect with other body parts to become a bizarre flying figure… that is blown up!
There’s a real crudeness to the effects, that’s for sure, but this doesn’t really detract from the quite charming fairytale nature of the colourful production, which borrows some story beats from Snow White and adds outlandish elements including a genie-like character with a head resembling butt-cheeks, a rabbit which turns into a fairy, a giant devil statue with glowing eyes, plus some perspex weapons you’d expect to see in a THUNDERCATS show.
Directed by Roc (SILVER HERMIT FROM SHAOLIN TEMPLE) Tien, starring Roc Tien, Leung Ka-Yan and Lin Chie-Wen.
Commander Lin (Tien) is framed and condemned to ten years in jail so that the son of a local bigwig can take his wife. But with the help of Ruh, a big, ex-brigand monk, Lin eventually avenges himself against the wrongdoers, though this will require a showdown in a cellar full of bizarre adversaries.
Also known as THE LEGEND OF ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS, this Taiwanese production, inspired by the Water Margin novel ‘All Men Are Brothers’, offers us the chance to see a prison assassination attempt, an aggressive style of massage, a knife in the groin moment played for laughs and a farcical bedroom scene interspersed amongst the usual martial arts antics.
But this film really becomes interesting and sticks in the memory once it reaches the finale, set in a large cellar…
Here we see a confrontation with a fighter in a wheelchair, who only pretends to be disabled and is armed with a razor-sharp fan and metal hoops. A crossdressing antagonist is next, skilled at hurling metal spikes, but he dies after big monk Ruh shoves a pole where the sun don’t shine. A hopping, curly-haired dead dude, who picks at the rotting flesh on his face, enters the fray to combat the monk now, flicking maggots into Ruh’s mouth! Our monk hero is badly wounded, but Commander Lin arrives to battle the ghoul, and then the fourth fighter joins the fight. Called Never Drunk, this dude sleeps in a barrel of alcohol and seems capable of breathing beneath the booze. Never Drunk leaps from the barrel, takes on Lin and, of course, he does so in a drunken martial arts style.
Okay, so this ongoing cellar skirmish seems pretty offbeat, but circumstances suddenly ratchet up to batshit crazy levels when the dead ghoul’s belly begins to distend… and a red, raw-skinned, phallic critter bursts from it!
The slimy beastie, with its snapping jaws, tiny forelimbs and snake-like tail, is like some alien monster that has strayed into this kung fu actioner from a sci-fi horror flick! If the animated pork sausage mascot from the Peperami television ads and the chestburster from ALIEN (1979) got together and had a lovechild… it would resemble this slimy penis-tadpole! It can talk, too!
The scumbag bad guy, who framed Lin at the start of the story, finally gets what’s coming to him when the serpentine-penile-puppet creature bites off his dick! Classy!
Directed by Chen Chiu, starring Chan Sing, Barry Chan, Charlie Chin Chiang-Lin and Lin Ping.
Five diverse characters, including a fighting femme restaurateur named Miss Lotus, an upbeat undertaker and a young warrior called Dragon, discover they are actually the children of the murdered Song Dynasty Emperor. They join forces with an old Song general and a monkey-man to seek their revenge against the current, very ruthless rulers, who are able to mobilise supernatural allies against the heroes, thanks to the fact the Empress (Ping) is actually a kind of wolf/fox demon in disguise!
This cheap Taiwanese kung fu fantasy romp includes such fantasy creatures as a friendly, white-furred monkey-guy with a blond hairdo, a fox demon that resembles a shoddy bear suit with a horse-like face, and a briefly-seen orange-haired, horned monster-dude. These critters are brought to life by guys in extremely crude costumes, whilst the other ‘demons’ working for the villainess tend to be human-looking, with the ability to go transparent, disappear and reappear. At one point a squad of staff-wielding supernatural fighters wearing fur tunics are summoned to fight the heroes and, when they’re killed, they become empty fur tunics lying on the ground.
The five heroes use elemental powers, stuff like emitting fire or bursts of water, or crawling speedily through dirt and sand, or flying through the air, but these powers are used sparingly. One dude even briefly hitches a ride on a big puppet bird.
This all sounds great, but the film’s choppy editing makes some sequences downright confusing to follow and the budget is so very low the movie cannot hope to deliver the fantasy spectacle that the story requires. But, hey, it features a lot of fights!
Directed by ‘Joe Livingstone’, starring Mick Stuart, Walter Bond, Richard Phillips, Suen Kwok-Ming, Wang Kuan-Hsiung and Angela Mao.
Newly-shot footage of hopping vampires, a silver-suited hero called Shadow Warrior and various ninjas is intercut into an older gambling movie called GIANT OF CASINO, which features Angela Mao and Wang Kuan-Hsiung. The freshly concocted plot involves blue-faced vampires used as part of a smuggling operation and ninjas sent on a mission to eliminate Steve Cox, the Gambling King.
Points of interest include ninjas turned into grinning hopping vampires, Shadow Warrior using a bell to distract a bunch bouncing vampires during a breakneck skirmish, a holy man performing a ceremony to heal injured vamps that seems to involve sticking sparklers into them, and a voodoo doll used to control a priest.
Just as this film seems to be on the verge of being almost coherent, the movie cuts to a shot of a ghost girl skipping, before jumping back to more Shadow-Warrior-versus-vampires action. Alex, aka Shadow Warrior, undergoes a ceremony involving a yellow-robed priest painting special symbols on his torso and then throwing shrine dolls ‘into’ his body. Alex becomes a more powerful version of the helmeted Shadow Warrior and, at one point, with the help of the priest, starts doing some moonwalking, before he batters his vampire foes with explosive punches and kicks!
Often erroneously listed as a Godfrey Ho opus (nobody seems to know who definitely directed it, perhaps it was Tommy Cheng), this Tomas Tang production is a cheap, cheesy, cheerful challenge to every viewer’s sense of narrative logic. This brain-melter is also known as DEVIL DYNAMITE and, cheekily, ROBO VAMPIRE 2: DEVIL’S DYNAMITE, obviously in an attempt to pass off silver-garbed hero Shadow Warrior as the infamous ‘Robo-Warrior’.
Directed by Andrew Lau, starring Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Sonny Chiba, Kristy Yang, Michael Tse, Roy Cheung and Anthony Wong.
Lord Conquer, power-hungry leader of the Conquerer’s Clan, raises two boys called Wind and Cloud as his sons, after it is foretold they will bring him good fortune. Together with Conquer’s adopted son Frost, youngsters Wind and Cloud grow up to become powerful fighters under their Lord’s tutelage, bonding with each other and Conquer’s daughter Charity. But when the Lord instructs Charity to wed Wind, rather than Cloud, who is the man she actually loves, the stage is set for a confrontation that leads to Charity’s death at the hands of her father. Matters become much more dark and deadly after Wind and Cloud learn that Conquer killed their parents and now wants to murder them too.
THE STORM RIDERS, based on the comic book series by Ma Wing-shing, is a big Hong Kong action-fantasy wuxia movie full of characters with super-powered skills, prophesies, betrayals and legendary weapons with names like Blizzard Blade, Ultimate Sword, Fire Unicorn Sword and Unchallenged Sword.
Aaron Kwok, as Cloud, is good at pop-dramatic posturing, whether he’s moodily sitting on a rooftop with a billowing cape, standing under a waterfall as he angrily shouts at the sky, or screaming in heartbroken anguish as he detonates plumes of water in a lake. Meanwhile, Sonny Chiba, as the single-minded, driven Lord Conquer, is regal, ruthless and looks the consummate badass at all times.
There’s a not-too-convincing CGI cave dragon and a less-than-photorealistic special effects-laden duel on and around a giant, stone Buddha, but these moments are acceptable as they exist within the comic book world of this movie. Far more impressive elements include the splendid Sword Grave set and the many scenes showing the characters creating energy spheres, manipulating water, spinning at super-velocities and generating shock waves. The inclusion of surprising plot ideas, such as Cloud ripping off his arm so that he can use the blood as a weapon, and a doctor realising he must sever his own ‘Fire Beast Arm’ and transplant the limb onto Cloud’s body, help keep the movie exotic and fantastical.
Watch out for a bamboo forest fight, ‘Firey’ the Fire Monkey (which is never on fire, sadly) and a showdown between Lord Conquer and Sword Saint, where we get the chance to see Anthony Wong floating into action like a glowing Moses/Obi-Wan Kenobi, giving off an aquamarine light as he immobilises everyone in his path!
Directed by Titus Ho, starring Kent Tong, Poon Lai-Yin and Ga Lun.
A film crew sneaks into an off-limits burial place in Borneo, releasing a Red Dwarf ghost, triggering a murderous curse that will only be halted when a grey-haired sorcerer and a Buddhist Lama finally intervene.
This unashamedly exploitative release from Nikko International Productions & Films presents us with the typical Hong Kong horror movie staples of arcane rituals and chanting monks, mixing them into a salacious brew heavily indebted to western movies.
Mondo footage of the slaughter of real pigs, a meddling documentary crew and the depiction of indigenous tribespeople as cruel savages hint at the influence of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, while a set piece involving main protagonist Stella being assaulted by a possessed bamboo bed that forces her legs wide open above an oil lamp is undoubtedly inspired by THE EVIL DEAD.
RED SPELL SPELLS RED is certainly full of incident. Memorable moments include the very gross spectacle of a Borneo tribesman eating the innards of a still-alive chicken, Stella’s possessed period blood provoking a supernatural incident, death-by-jungle-vines, people succumbing to scorpion infestations, and a finale in which the grey-haired holy man allows himself to be covered in scorpions and immolated.
Let’s just spare a moment to consider put-upon documentarian Stella (Lai-Yin), who finds herself in multiple situations that inevitably result in her clothes getting wet. She is also plagued with a Scorpion Spell that causes her to exude these black arthropods from a wound near a red birthmark, making her deadly to anyone who gets too close to her. Even when the helpful sorcerer is trying to cure her, this calls for the poor woman to be bound to a rotating water wheel (cue more wet clothing shots), then sprinkled with powder made from the ground-up skull of the sorcerer’s dead daughter, before having a chunk of possessed flesh ripped from her shoulder. This is definitely a location shoot Stella will want to forget!
All in all, RED SPELL SPELLS RED is a gonzo, shameless piece of brazen Hong Kong exploitation filmmaking that lovers of vulgar, mad & muddled mondo horror movies will love.
Devoted to every kind of movie and TV monster, from King Kong to Godzilla, from the Blob to Alien.