Friday, September 3, 2021

Cui hua du jiang tou (1975)

... aka: 摧花毒降頭
... aka: 人蛇 女巫
... aka: 인사여무
... aka: Au pays de la magie noire (In the Land of Black Magic)
... aka: Human Affairs Are Nothing
... aka: Human Snake Witch
... aka: Insa yeomu
... aka: Magic Curse, The

Directed by:
Yeong-sun Kwon (uncredited)
"Tommy Loo-Chun" (Chun-Ku Lu)
To Man Po

Wen-Ying Lin (Jason Pai Piao) is busy wowing the ladies at a bowling alley when he receives an urgent phone call from his attorney Vivencio P. Angeles (Vic Silayan), who informs him that his uncle's private plane is ten hours late arriving and is assumed crashed in Borneo. Seeing how the plane was also carrying a bunch of valuable jewels, this certainly needs looking into. Wen-Ying immediately books a flight to Borneo and hires a handful of native guides, who basically run off and leave him at the first sign of trouble! And seeing how that first sign of trouble is a tribe of cannibal-zombie lepers, you can't really blame 'em. The lepers scatter after Wen-Ying guns a few of them down. One injured tribesmen reverse time-lapses back to looking human and thanks him for releasing him from the "magic curse" he's been placed under. He also names a culprit for his affliction: Abdullah.

Abdullah is an evil, power-mad high priest / black magician and leader of another tribe who decapitate topless virgins with a huge axe as an offering to their snake god. When he is not overseeing sacrifices, he's busy taking advantage of his position and offering to "help" deflower unsullied young ladies so they won't be the next to lose their head. Quite a scam he's got going on there! One of those girls, Sofia, refuses his kind offer and attempts to run off with another young villager named Shou Ming, but Abdullah casts a spell that possesses her and makes her grow fangs, which she then uses to bite Shou Ming's dick off! She then stabs herself in the stomach with a knife. Wen-Ying stumbles upon the bloody scene long enough to hear Sofia utter "Abdullah" with her last dying breath.

Wen-Ying ends up running into some of Abdullah's thugs and, although he puts up a valiant fight, he's outnumbered, gets shot in the back with an arrow and is left for dead. Some naked female bathers having a giggly slow-motion splash-fest near a waterfall (the jungle equivalent of the slow-mo topless pillow fight most of us have undoubtedly seen a time or two) stumble upon Wen-Ying's injured body. Filona (Pinky De Leon), a pretty high-ranking priestess in the tribe, takes him back to her hut, nurses him back to health and falls in love with him. However, when Abdullah finds out she's harboring an outsider (which is against tribe rules... not that he typically follows those himself), a power struggle erupts. As snake priestess, Filona is technically a higher-ranking tribe member but she and the others are no match for Abdullah's powerful sorcery.

When Abdullah gets even nastier (using voodoo dolls and threatening to kill Filona's kid brother), Wen-Ying is forced to leave the village. But before heading back to civilization, he confesses his feelings to Filona and the two make love in front of a fire. Wen-Ying promises he'll return one day but, just to be on the safe side, she bites his lip and releases another curse. Not content being another hump-n-dump, pounce-n-bounce or nail-n-bail to the city dweller, Filona now has ownership over him. If he touches another woman while he's away, the curse will kick in and said other woman will die a horrible death. Also, he's to come back in one year's time to marry her or else he'll also be the recipient of a nasty demise.

Wen-Ying returns to Manila, inherits some money from his late uncle's estate and tries to resume life as normal which, for a swinging bachelor like himself, includes going to discos in a leisure suit and flares, drinking too much and picking up chicks. One night out, he hits it off with a lady named Suzie ("Woung Eune Hi" / Angela Wang En-Chi) and inadvertently infuriates a group of hooligans in the process. Outside the club, a shitfaced Wen-Ying gets viciously beaten and chain-whipped by the gang but, thanks to the "magic curse," a snake emerges to scare them off and he's no worse for wear at the end of it. The same cannot be said for Suzie a few hours later when she's killed in the shower by snakes immediately after having sex with Wen-Ying. A police inspector ("Choi Mu Ung" / Mu-ung Choe) shows up and the death is written off as a heart attack.

During a party at his attorney's home, Wen-Ying meets Daisy Chen ("Nam Soon Joung" / Su-jung Nam), who at first seems bashful but then proves to be no shrinking violet. The two skip out on the party and go for a ride, which quickly leads to a different kind of ride back at her parent's home. Afterward, Wen-Ying takes his usual post-coital customary nap which enables more snakes to sneak in. Daisy is killed after getting knocked down the stairs. The inspector returns but this time he's certainly not convinced of Wen-Ying's innocence. That is, until Wen-Ying drags him back to Borneo so he can see what's actually going on with his own two eyes.

This is reasonably fun assembly line mash-up of schlock jungle adventure and black magic horror, with adequate pacing, decent atmosphere and plenty of exploitative content to keep things humming along. Still, one can't get too caught up in the little details... like how hilariously misogynistic this whole thing is! I mean, why does a fidelity curse placed upon our male protagonist end up punishing oblivious women who have no clue there's even another woman in the picture, and not him? One would think there'd be some kind of "Make his dick fall off if he touches another woman" or equivalent spell instead of this "Killing innocent women just because a guy can't keep his dick in his pants" spell. And since both Wen-Ying and Filona are both basically terrible people, their happy reunion at the very end doesn't possess much in the way of charm.

There's a decent (albeit dark and dingy) English-language widescreen print of this one out now, which is derived from the French release Au pays de la magie noire ("In the Land of Black Magic"). As for its country of origin, well...

IMDb lists this twice and under two different titles (once as a Hong Kong / Filipino co-production and another time as a Korean production), the Korean Movie Database lists it as an entirely Korean production, the Hong Kong Movie Database lists it as a Taiwanese production and Hong Kong Cinemagic lists it as a Hong Kong production. Who's correct? Who knows! Maybe all of them. What we do know is that it was filmed entirely on location in the Philippines and the cast is widely varied and contains fairly well-known actors from all four of the countries in question. The credited director changes depending on which print you view (Korean director Yeong-sun Kwon was not listed on the print I watched) as does much of the crew, so it's difficult to even tell.

The given release year also fluctuates depending on the source, though this may have received a release in South Korea a year or two before it was ever released in Hong Kong or Taiwan. Again, I'm not entirely sure due to lack of consistent information. The cast includes Hok-Nin Lau and Peter Chan Lau (who also receives credit as production manager and action director) as tribesmen, though the actor I was the most interested in - the guy playing "Abdullah" - I wasn't able to find the identity of.

There were VHS releases in a number of countries including the UK (an English-dubbed version, released by Hokushin in 1981) and France (dubbed in French and from Socai Films in 1986), though no official U. S. release that I'm aware of. (Note: A number of bootleg outlets offer the English version but you may as well just save your money and watch it for free on Youtube).

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