Monday, October 23, 2006

[1980] SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS: Raimi must have seen this before Evil Dead II. It's not quite on that level, but I can't imagine some of the gags in that film without this one. Like--there's a scene where a corpse is mirroring Sammo's every move, so Sammo gets smart and pretends to smash a brick into his head. So the corpse smashes the brick into Sammo's head. HA! It's the kind of random slapstick Raimi loves to pepper in, and it's good to see him stealing from one of the best. It's inventive and energetic, like you expect a Hong Kong movie of this era to be, but funny too. I liked a quite a bit, but it's not something I could use a lot of analytical verbiage explaining why I liked it. It's not completely coherent as a narrative--but it doesn't aspire to anything like a coherent narrative. It's a collection of escalating setpieces, and just about every one is memorable. Corpses in jars attack rips chunks out of Sammo during the opening credits. A skeleton hand grabs his ass! A ghost appears in a mirror and pulls a guy into the netherworld. There's a hopping vampire (and this is one of the first hopping vampire movies) that Sammo has to duel in two claustrophobic scenes. And the aforementioned slapstick. And the showdown between two kung fu mystics fighting on giant raised altars where Sammo gets possessed by the monkey god. And he speaks in monkey gibberish and I have no idea if they subtitled the gibberish in the original Cantonese (or Mandarin?) but they subtitle the gibberish in the version I watched and it's hilarious. I dunno, just watch it--I loved it.

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