Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Devil's Fetus-1983

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I like to think that all films in some way reflect the creator’s idea of society and culture. Even those American stinkers, the Z grade schlock a zillion leagues below even the B grade stinkers. Even with those, you can probably discern something about what the writer and/or director is thinking. Even if they insist that they only wanted to make a silly, gory movie (which I don’t doubt that’s merely what they meant to do), I will still insist that everything we create is somehow or another affected by our own personal opinions about the world around us. Without that input, even subconsciously, we suspect we’d create nothing.

That being said, the thing I realize most about watching a movie like Mo tai (aka The Devil’s Fetus) is that I know absolutely nothing about Hong Kong culture. I would think that if I did I would be able to pick out something in this movie that makes a statement—even a little one. I don’t buy that they just make wacky films that no one understands. I often wonder what Hong Kong audiences think of American B to Z horror movies. Are they entertained but somehow just don’t get it?


A grandmother (Granny) and her daughter-in-law (Auntie) are at an auction, and at this auction Auntie, on a whim, buys a jade vase. She takes this vase home, where Ganny, Auntie, Uncle, brother and sister-in-law (Mr. and Mrs. Cheng) and their two sons (Kent and Kwo Wei) live together. That night, Auntie lounges around in bed, absently picks up the vase from the nightstand and considers it. Now, just seconds before the action starts, it suddenly dawns on you that you know exactly what’s going to happen. And you’ve guessed correctly, she gets down and dirty with the vase, which suddenly transforms into a hideous blue-grey-green slimy demon with a wild white mane of hair (which doesn’t so much say “demonic” to me as much as it says “old man”). Needless to say, she becomes rather attached to this vase and begins to act strangely.

Soon after, Uncle comes home from work one night only to open the bedroom door to the repulsive scene of the slimy-nasty demon humping his wife. In moments, the demon changes to a vase when the husband bursts in angrily then smashes the vase on the floor. The room fills with a noxious mist that contaminates the husband. His face become swollen and blistered. He is eventually, to his horror, able to pull it right off his head, revealing a squirmy-bloody-maggoty mess just before he seemingly tosses himself out the window.

The family is obviously devastated. The next evening, while Auntie mourns, she thinks she hears her husband’s voice calling to her. She ventures out of the bedroom to investigate, only to be knocked over the upper balcony to her own death by a flying kitty cat. Now the family is really devastated. At Auntie’s funeral, the priest has a bizarre vision of the woman in the casket. Her belly swells and pulsates until indeed a little ghoulish baby pops through. He warns granny that the couple weren’t meant to die at this time and would wander the earth until the can go on to their next birth. Their bedroom is turned into a shrine and it’s to be undisturbed.

Many years pass. It took me a while to realize that many years did pass, as there’s nothing to suggest that they have. Take my word for it.

Kent and Kwo Wei are grown, and Auntie’s daughter Juju is visiting. They seem a contented family, with a German Shepard named “Boby” and Granny, who spends most of her time praying in the temple and banging on a wooden object with a wooden stick. She does this a lot. Kent and Juju pay a visit to granny and whilst visiting, they decide to burn some incense at Auntie and Uncle’s shrine, during which Juju makes a mess of some carefully placed ritualistic ribbon/parchments, which of course, ruins everything.

As they leave Granny’s, one of the parchments flies out of the window and attaches itself to the car bumper. When they arrive home and they’ve entered the house, the parchment glides off of the bumper, only to be eaten on the porch by Boby the dog. This, as you can imagine, sets of a chain of events that can only lead to horrific disaster.

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For the remainder, I’ll just give the highlights. The demon is now inside Boby, which eventually gets transferred to Kwo Wei, who immediately takes on the generic automaton gaze and deliberate walk. There’s dog attacks, there’s dog eating, there’s maid raping, there’s near drowning, there transsexual masturbation, there’s worm eating, there’s a dude being crushed by a room (yes, I mean exactly that) and yes, there’s more slimy demon-sex. A lot of this is done with the accompaniment of some wicked 1980s video game-esque sound effects that make you nostalgic for that Atari system. There are also a couple of signature Hong-Kong-ish battle scenes that don’t make any logical sense, but are really great to watch.

So, where’s this Devil’s Fetus the title keeps going on about? That I’m not entirely sure of. I don’t recall there being mention of a daughter from Auntie and Uncle prior to their deaths—so where did this Juju girl come from? Is she the Devil’s Fetus? I don’t know. Was the demon’s goal to make a Devil’s Fetus? The priest’s vision would seem to indicate that this was the case, but later, with the masturbation scene (you’ll know what I mean when you see it), I’m left to believe that the demon’s only purpose was to get as much Asian poon-tang as it could before he was thwarted.


This is Lau Hung Chuen’s debut film, and boy, what a smashing way to start a career. He was working with a pro, however, as producer Wei Lo produced Fists of Fury (1972) with Bruce Lee, not to be confused with another Wei Lo production, Fist of Fury (1976), with Jackie Chan. The only other little bit of interesting Devil’s Fetus trivia that I know of is that Pak Kwong Ho (Mr. Cheng—who gets crushed by the room) more recently had a bit part in John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps (2000).

Although there’s no earthly reason why I should have been able to walk away from this film feeling as if I’ve really learned something of substance about Hong Kong culture and/or social taboos, I’m going to pretend that I did. And seeing as though I don’t actually know anything about the culture, I’m going to do what critics do best and I’m going to make something up. Put this in your pipe and smoke it:

The Devil’s Fetus is obviously a torrid tale of the horrors of infidelity. Chuen’s apparent message is that the unmitigated sexual desire that can lead to unfaithfulness is not only damaging to the marriage, but also harmful to the family in ways that can eventually manifest down through the generations causing difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships.

Now that that pesky pretend interpretation is out of the way, let's get down to the important question: Is this a zombie movie? In my opinion, no. Not really. However, if you consider the likes of the first Evil Dead movie, or say, Bava's Demoni, to be a zombie movies...then maybe you'd think this one was too. There's never the raising of a corpse--just the possession of a live person that then takes on zombie-like characteristics.

Runtime: 84 min
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese

Sha Fei Au Yeung .... Granny Cheng
Eddie Chan .... Kent Cheng
Wing Cheung Gam
Pak-Kwong Ho .... Mr. Cheng
Tan Lau

Saan Leung

Sau-Ling Lui
.... Juju (as Sau Fan Loy)

Directed by Lau Hung Chuen
Produced by Wei Lo


Anonymous Viagra Online said...

I don't want to sound as a total jackass, but you have to recognize that Asian don't have the talent to do good horror movies, the only one that I can save is the grudge, and I save it the American version not the Japanese.
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2:15 PM  
Anonymous Luan said...

FYI, the American Grudge is also directed by the director of the Japanese Grudge.

7:55 PM  

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