Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Spider Forest

Korean arthouse can go a number of different ways. Sometimes you get a snoozer (Woman on the Beach, Woman is the Future of Man), other times you're assaulted with gut-wrenching brutality (The Isle, Oldboy), and every now and then you get both. Such a film is Spider Forest. The film is, at times, agonizingly slow, but there's something about this supernatural puzzler that keeps you hanging on. Just as you're about to nod off, a new development in the onion-peeling mystery pulls you back in.

The story concerns a young guy who wakes up in the titular forest and staggers to a small house where he discovers a gruesome scene of carnage. Soon thereafter he's beaten with a stick and run down by a car. In the aftermath of all this violence (or perhaps before or in the midst of it?) he finds himself shuffling back and forth through time, space and lost memories to piece together exactly what happened. Is he dead? In a coma? Or is it all just a fantasy? Like many a freaky Asian film, there's an elaborate backstory, the revelations doled out like breadcrums in the arachnid-infested woods.

In the final analysis, I believe this is an ultimately rewarding film, and would recommend it, but be forewarned: It's an ultra-slow burn and not for the short of attention span.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Some of you may know that once I played bass in a heavy metal band. It is to dispel the various myths regarding my supposedly god-like status on the instrument that I hereby post some YouTube clips:

Endless Voyage
Black Cloud


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Chinese Torture Chamber Story

Where do I begin with this one? The opening castration scene? The martial arts couple wire-fu fucking in mid-air? The woman forced to ride a wooden horse with a ginormous wooden dildo in the saddle? The old water torture and bamboo under the fingernails? The man who literally jumps out of his own skin? The husband who services his wife with sex toys named "The Dwelling Bells," "Orgasmic Armor" and "Mr. Horn"? Or how about the guy who overdoses on aphrodisiac and discharges a fire hydrant-worthy, bloody ejaculation all over his wife and the surrounding area as he expires?

This 1994 Category III Hong Kong film cooks up a rich feast of sex, violence and depravity while folding in a healthy dollop of goofy humor. There really isn't one moment when something outrageous isn't happening in this picture. The story concerns the adorable (and adorably named ) Little Cabbage (Yvonne Yung Hung, above), a sweet, innocent virgin who is framed for murder and tortured mercilessly by officials of the Ching Dynasty, along with her benefactor, the equally blameless Yang Nai Wu (Lawrence Ng). The wicked ones get their comeuppance eventually, but not before these two suffer the torments of the damned. Lightening things up are comedy set pieces like the aforementioned aerial sex show featuring old Cat III favorites Julie Lee and Elvis Tsui (pictured right).

I'd recommend a double feature of A Chinese Torture Chamber Story and its Japanese counterpart The Joy of Torture (1968) to anyone who thinks torture porn is strictly a Bush-era phenom. And, as usual, the Asian filmmakers do it darker.