Sunday 27 March 2011

BLACK MAGIC 2 (Hong Kong, 1976)


And finally... the absolutely ATROCIOUSLY AWFUL new cover for the film:

I REALLY REALLY don't get it!!! Why use such a terrible cover when they could have used the original:


BLACK MAGIC 2 (1976) - I've been waiting quite a few years to get my hands on an uncut version of this film ever since I saw a chopped-up edit of it in theaters (distributed by World Northal Corp.) and on bootleg VHS under the title REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES. Now, thanks to the fine folks at Celestial Pictures, we can all see this film the way it was meant to be seen: Fully uncut and with English subtitles (replacing the horrendous English dubbing on earlier edits). The film opens with a bunch of topless women (all nudity was cut from the edited version) splashing around in a river when, all of a sudden, a huge crocodile grabs one of them and chows down on her. An elderly white-haired witch doctor hangs a live chicken on a hook above the river and begins chanting. The crocodile grabs the chicken and becomes hooked, as the witch doctor pulls it to shore and stabs it in the eyes, finishing the crocodile off by gutting it and pulling the contents out of it's stomach, which includes a tin can, a sandal and the unfortunate dead girl's bracelet, which he hands over to her family. We then switch to two professional city couples, who take a trip to "a tropical city" to research spells and to discover if they have any validity in modern society. Something tells me that they're not going to like what they uncover. They stop at a nightclub (a disco band plays a funky tune while a girl in a sequined bikini dances on-stage), where we watch an evil black magician (Lo Lieh; THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER - 1974) bring a beautiful woman back to his mansion, leads her into a secret room, strips her naked and then reveals that she has a giant spike embedded in the top of her skull! He slowly pulls the spike out with a pair of pliers and the beautiful girl rapidly turns into a decaying corpse. The two couples, the male members both being doctors, visit a hospital where the patients have strange skin ulcers, all said to have been caused by spells, especially the dreaded "Green Venom Poison Spell", which causes lesions that look like human faces. The black magician becomes smitten with Margaret (Tanny; HUMAN LANTERNS - 1982), the wife of one of the doctors, and puts a spell on her by stealing a drop of her blood, hanging a dead cat in her yard and pouring a potion made from her blood on one of his huge collections of wax effigies. Margaret's husband, Zhensheng (Ti Lung; 10 TIGERS OF KWANG TUNG - 1980), becomes worried for his wife's health and safety when she disappears each night. She is under the control of the black magician, who creates a potion using her freshly-shaven pubic hair (!), to make Margaret produce breast milk, which he will drink every night to keep his youthful appearance. Every night, Margaret sleepwalks to his mansion, where he sucks on her titties and then makes love to her (including some backdoor action!). When Zhensheng finally catches on to Margaret's nocturnal visits, he also discovers that she is suddenly nine months pregnant! She has an emergency c-section, where a mutated stillborn baby is delivered. Folks, this is only the first thirty minutes of the film. What comes next is truly beyond proper description and is best witnessed first hand. This is another weird and entertaining Shaw Brothers production, directed by demented genius Ho Meng-Hua (credited as "Horace Mengwa" on the abortive English language prints), who also directed the original BLACK MAGIC (1975; which stars many of the same actors here, but in different roles), as well as THE OILY MANIAC (1976), THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977; a.k.a. GOLIATHON) and THE RAPE AFTER (1986). The screenplay, by I Kuang (THE KILLER SNAKES - 1974), gets increasingly more bizarre as the film progresses, as we watch the black magician (whose name is revealed as Kang Cong!) perform his various spells (usually love spells for some poor schmucks that invariably go very, very wrong) obtaining blood or a personal item from his victims, which he uses to make potions to pour over his wax dolls or on the many dead, rotting corpses he keeps in the basement of his mansion. He then hammers a giant spike into the tops of their heads and, presto!, instant zombie with a youthful appearance. There's so much more insanity on view, including grave robbing, dead cat whipping, breast milk squirting, stop-motion disintegrations, skin lesions containing slimy worms and a zombie attack in the finale that is as surreal as it is horrific. There's also the prerequisite battle between the good magician (the white-haired witch doctor from the beginning of the film) and the black magician, where the black magician drives giant nails into his own cheeks and hands while the good magician rips out his own eyes and gives them to the hero for protection! I won't even mention the fight on a moving tram car that offers some of the chintziest blue screen work in recent memory. There's also tons of nudity and sex on view, all of it missing from the English language version; so much so, that it plays like an entirely different film. This is twisted horror in the best sense and gets my highest recommendation. A second in-name-only sequel, the Indonesian QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (1979), followed. Also starring Liu Hui-Ju, Lily Li, Lin Wei-Tu, Frankie Wei and Yang Ai-Hua. A Celestial Pictures DVD Release in a beautiful widescreen print. Not Rated.

As always a warm thank you to Fred for letting me use his reviews as I wish. Thanks.

The screen grabs are courtesy of Ian Jane of Dvdmaniacs.

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