Monday 28 January 2019

Black Magic (Hong Kong, 1975)

Black Magic

Hong Kong | 1975 | D: Meng Hua Ho

Hong Kong’s The Shaw Brothers are well known for their movies. They pump them out rather quickly and to various degrees of quality. They’re usually good and always worthy of a night at home with some popcorn. This movie is a little different.

It’s a horror film, which no doubt back in 1975 would have been scary, but viewing it with a modern mindset yields a different result. This is a movie about black magic – or voodoo. We’ve got a black magic master (BMM) who speciality seems to be love spells. Or is it death spells? Not too sure as they both seem to have the same requirements to work!
A young architect is about to marry the woman he loves. He is being pursued by a wealthy and attractive widow – the “boss lady” – but wants nothing to do with her. On the flip side, she is being pursued by a man who wants to get rich quick. What could possibly go wrong? Yes, just about everything.

Firstly, our BMM has a penchant for breast milk – so that’s the obvious breast nudity taken care of. Worth noting that the two main actresses are never nude in this film, they are using clear body doubles. All his spells seems to require either breast milk to work, or end up in the production of said milk.

Secondly, he has a weird fascination with being creepy. You see, later on the film, he realises he wants in on the rich lady action – and casts a spell on her himself!

Anyway, I am getting a head of myself. Get Quick Rich (GQR) man visits BMM to get love spell to use on Boss Lady. Spell works but for one night – because BMM added a failsafe. He knew GQR wouldn’t be able to pay him. When Boss Lady finds out she has been tricked with a spell, she visits BMM and asks for a love spell to put on Young Architect. It works, ruins his wedding and they live happily ever after.

Well no, his friends are determined to find out what happens. Boss Lady realises she needs wife dead so gets BMM to cast a death spell. A Super BMM is approached by the friends to help remove all the curses that have been cast. Confusing? Trust me, I am simplifying it.

We need to talk about the effects. I know it was 1975, but really? The stop motion face melting scenes wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so bad. The ending sequence with the drawn on effects (there really is no other way to describe it, you’ll noticed it when you watch it) are hilarious, and I am impressed the actors were able to play along with where the effects would be. And the camera zooming? Its whiplash city – lets hope it doesn’t trigger any nausea.

Its not a bad film, its just not brilliant. For what it is – a 1975 schlock horror movie that was supposedly banned in the UK – it’s serviceable. And yes it has some nudity to keep you interested.

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