Friday, May 28, 2021

She tou ren (1975)

... aka: 蛇头人
... aka: Bruka, Queen of Evil
... aka: Devil Woman Part 2
... aka: Manda the Snake Girl Part 2

Directed by:
Felix Villar (uncredited on Chinese print)
Albert (Chi-Lien) Yu

Sequel to DEVIL WOMAN (1973) opens with a brief recap of the previous film, which ended with our tortured, snake-haired outcast Manda (Rosemarie Gil) slipping, falling into a ravine and ending up, we were to assume, meeting her fiery demise in a cave. Instead, she has been rescued by an old snake woman with a HUGE white wig named Bruka (Etang "Ditched" / Discher), who turns out to Manda's long lost grandmother! As opposed to Manda, who basically looks human aside from the Medusa hair, granny is a human head placed on top of a large snake body who is forced to slither around everywhere and uses her tail like a whip!

Bruka also has some other very cool things going on, like a crystal ball she uses to explain to Manda how she came to be and a band of faithful dwarf servants (referred to as "an army of savage midgets" on the poster), rock monsters (!), living trees (!!) and other creatures to do her bidding. She's also in possession of a nifty, magical black stone that Manda can use to give herself normal hair so she can blend into normal society undetected. However, the stone must be kept inside her mouth the entire time or else her hair will revert back to snakes.

Like in the first film, Manda is all-consumed with getting revenge on the remaining villagers for murdering her parents. She surprises her first victim (Charlie Davao) with a shit ton of snakes, who bite him in the face and then suffocate him. She uses her new human hair to ensnare a guitar player (Darius Razon) strolling down a path looking for romance, then removes the stone and has her snake hair do him in. She starts dressing sexy and going out on the town to seduce more men, picks another guy up in a bar and kills him.

Meanwhile, nightclub bouncer Hong Pin (Alex Lung) gets fired from his job after beating up a bunch of hooligans trying to molest some girls. Bad timing for him as he's trying to care for his sick, elderly mother and his kid sister and really needs the money. He hustles trying to find another job but keeps striking out. However, a friend of his has tipped him off about a way to make 50 thousand dollars, which involves rescuing a rich man's missing daughter. Since Hong Pin has formidable kung fu skills, it may be the way for him to get back on his feet again.

Our hero goes to talk to the father, Mr. Tong (Alfonso Cavajal), and beats up several dozen of his henchmen while he's there. Mr. Tong is so impressed he gives him half of the reward money up front. Flashbacks show that the daughter, Louisa (Sandra de Veyra), had been kidnapped on her way to see her auntie by Manda and is being kept prisoner in the cave. A five man search party already went looking for her but were all killed by snakes or the living trees before even making it inside the cave. In other words, Hong Pin's signed up for a very dangerous mission.

As he sets out on his quest, Hong Pin wanders into a village where the streets are filled with corpses of snake bit victims. Only a monk (Ramon D'Salva) and his disfigured hunchback helper have managed to survive. Hong Pin helps them bury all of the dead in a field and then seeks sanctuary in their monastery. Burka, who's been keeps tabs on them using her crystal ball, sends Manda and the dwarfs out with orders to kill them. They easily take care of the hunchback and monk, but Hong Pin manages to escape. As luck would have it, he runs across the little people leading Louisa and another girl through the woods and kicks, punches and even picks up and starts throwing the dwarfs around! The girls get kidnapped again, so Hong Pin gets a rope that can transform into a staff from a blind hermit for his next battle.

While Manda is motivated by revenge, Burka has different objectives, namely sacrificing virgins to her moon god. The ritual involves kidnapped teen girls being stripped topless, put on a stone slab, getting beaten to death by rock men and then eaten by snakes! They send a silly-looking rubber bat after Hong Pin which transforms into an even-sillier-looking man in a brown bat outfit with droopy wings he seems to have a difficult time holding up. He interrupts a dwarf hoe-down and fights one of the trees, some mutant thing with claw gloves and a guy wearing a leopard-print shirt and cut-off jean shorts (?!) And the big finale certainly doesn't disappoint, with screaming virgins running around trying to avoid snakes biting them and horny dwarfs ripping their clothes off as Hong Pin starts bashing everyone with a staff.

This wacko fantasy/horror adventure from the same directors, writer / producer (Jimmy L. Pascual), fight choreographers (Brandy Yuen, Bun Yuen and Corey Yuen), and production company (Emperor Films International), is clearly much "better" than the structurally incompetent, surprisingly dull first film. While it's occasionally bogged down by the kung fu scenes, the pacing is a lot brisker, it manages to weave the plot threads together in a more streamlined and cohesive manner and it's filled with memorably insane bits and cheap-o monster creations to boggle your mind.

The same actors who played Manda's parents in the first film return in a brief flashback and Yukio Someno is in this one, too, though only in one fight scene instead of playing a lead role. The cast also includes Bruno Punzulan as a bald thug, Rocco Montalban as one of Mr. Tong's guards and Gil's real-life son, Michael De Mesa, as a restaurant patron whose noodle dinner is turned into a pile of snakes. Gil's daughter, Cherie, had already played the Manda character as a little girl in the previous entry.

Proving once again there's no justice in this world, the inferior original has a widescreen, restored print that's easy to find on DVD and various streaming services, while this one doesn't appear to have ever been officially released on home video. In fact, this was thought lost for many years until a soft, blurry, full screen print dubbed into Mandarin and with burnt-in English subs turned up. I have no clue where this copy originated from but it's the same exact print currently being hawked on DVD by the disreputable outlet Desert Island Classics. You'd be better off just checking this out on Youtube instead of wasting money on their DVD.

Seeing how several English-language posters for Bruka exist (in fact, I could *only* find English posters), this appears to have play theatrically here in the U. S.. That suggests an English dubbed version probably existed at one time.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...