Corpse Mania

More a period police procedural murder mystery than a straight out head first dive into gore and perversion, this lesser film from director Kuei Chih-hung makes me want to see more of his work. I have already enjoyed two of his films – Bamboo House of Dolls and Ghost Eyes – but have yet to see a few of his more famous films such as Killer Snakes, Hex and Boxer’s Omen. He displays a very steady hand and a terrific ability to mix sleaze, violence and suspense into a fast moving piece of entertainment.

A new tenant has moved in across the street with his invalid wife in early 20th century Guangzhou. The neighbors can’t help but notice the loud grunts that emanate nightly from his residence and speculate that he still seems to be having sex with his sick wife. Well not quite and a wretched smell soon has the police discovering that the wife is dead and always has been and the man has disappeared. It is a case of Corpse Mania! Or better known as necrophilia. It is of course one thing having sex with a dead person, but the multitudes of maggots wriggling and crawling about would certainly have put me off.

Police Chief Zhang (Wang Jung) takes up the case and learns that something similar took place in another nearby city a few years back. Once there he discovers from Police Chief Liu (Walter Tso Tat-wah) that a certain Mr. Li had bought a woman he loved out of the Zui Hong brothel run by Madame Lan (Tanny Tien Ni) but that she soon died of tuberculosis. That didn’t stop his love for his wife though and in some almost lovely artistic scenes he keeps her clean and powdered using a large cotton glove. Nor does it stop his desire for her. He was caught maggot handed and sent to an asylum but had just recently been released. Now he seems to be back and bloody murders begin to pile up as Zhang closes in on him.

The narration is told almost in a straightforward matter of fact fashion giving the story a feel of a “true crimes” realism, but within this format Kuei still creates a suspenseful mood and an eerie atmosphere though the very studio bound film has a fairly cheap look to it. For many there won’t be nearly enough gore, sex or gross-out scenes in the film, but it does have a few eye brow raising yuck moments revolving around sex and maggots – so much so that I have definitely decided to be cremated.

My rating for this film: 6.0