|Corpse Mania (1981)|
|Director:||Kuei Chih Hung|
|Writers:||Chih-Hung Kuei and On Szeto|
|Starring:||Ni Tien, Yung Wang and Tsui Ling Yu|
|The Plot: In the Guangzhou province of China, a serial killer is on the loose! However, to get to the bottom of our story, we must first look to the past; two years, specifically, before the murders had ever started occurring. In a small and tightly knit neighborhood, social deviant Li Zhengyuan is caught lying with the corpse of his wife who had recently passed away. Although her murder wasn’t proven, thus he was never arrested, his infatuation with rotting corpses was certainly shown. Li followed this act up by visiting the local brothel and paying for the freedom of a prostitute who was showing symptoms of a terminal disease. Li takes the woman home and before long she too passes away. Li is once again picked up for having sexual intercourse with a dead body and is arrested this time on sanitary charges. Skip forward two years, and women from the same brothel (the one that Li purchased the sick girl from) are now being murdered one by one. While this goes on, we also learn that Li has been released from prison. Could he be the culprit behind these devious acts?|
If there is one aspect of the movie that makes it stand out, as a Shaw production, it would be its aesthetic qualities. Despite the movie being a formulaic piece of horror, the atmosphere and tension built throughout the movie is actually worth mentioning. The movie does not have the same “shot on a backlot” look that many Shaw Bros. titles did. Although there are still some very obvious sets, they seem to be dressed better for this film than one might normally see in a martial arts title. We as viewers are so used to the work of Chang Cheh and Liu Chia Liang that we imagine all Shaw films resembling one another in this regard. Corpse Mania instead has a more natural style to it, with more fluid camerawork than one might expect from a flick like this. Due to the camera movement and the better lighting, Corpse Mania looks more technically advanced than most Shaw titles that many readers may have seen. To compliment the film further, this was made right in the wake of Chang Cheh’s Chinese Super Ninjas, which is potentially the cheapest looking Shaw film I can think of. Yet, here we are one year later and the same studio produces one of their most technically beautiful (and disgusting) films. I feel that this high quality camera work fits the less formal attitude of the genres outside of the martial arts realm. For some reason the camera work in the martial art genre always seemed frigid and held in place as a way of catching detail. As if the director and the choreographer couldn’t find a proper compromise. Films such as this one, as well as The Teahouse and Big Brother Cheng also featured more handheld camera work and horizontal panning camera work, which truly differentiated the Shaw Bros. style.