Asian Movie Month Movie #2: Xie Mo (aka The Devil)

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Made in Taiwan and released in 1981 (as The Devil in the U.S.- it actually had a small oversized box video release.  Don’t confuse it with the Shyamalan produced U.S. thriller that came out a few years ago) this was probably one of the best of the Chinese bug puking movies (such as Centipede HorrorDevil Fetus, etc.).

The story is about a wealthy Chinese family and a stranger who enters their lives.  The father runs a very successful hotel which is managed by his nerdy nephew (who’s name is Achoo), and their bellboy is a standard issue (in Asian sci fi movies) annoying little twerp with a squeaky voice named Ding Dong.  Achoo and Ding Dong.  All they need is someone named Mr. Cool and it’ll be MST3K gold.  Did I mention there’s a beautiful, single daughter (named “Shirley”) that hangs around as well?  Unto this mix comes a handsome stranger named Mr. Cool (just kidding- his name is actually Mr. Ku, tho it sounds like Mr. Cool every time someone says it), who begins charming innocent Shirley with some alternately ridiculous and aggressive come-on lines and actions that would get someone a restraining order nowadays.  Ding Dong, enamoured with him, fools Shirley into going on a date with him, and then they’re getting married (?).
At this point, you might be wondering where the bug puking comes in.  During all of this, some other men show up at the hotel on occasion looking for a bad man named Chao Chin Tsing and causing problems.  Achoo mutters under his breath to each of them “I’ll get you someday” then they are afflicted with boils and start puking worms and centipedes and green goo until their stomachs burst.  One of them is also burned alive, but not before accusing Ku of being Chao Chin Tsing and cheating his sister.  Oh, there’s also a gore faced female ghost that hangs around and terrorizes people, who got her face bashed in on the first scene of the movie.  Somewhere in there is also a scene where a benevolent witch slices a guy open and pulls worms, maggots, snakes, and leeches out of his torso to save him.  And a meat cleaver murder.  And even some ghost fu.
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Is Ku the evil Chao Chin Tsing?  Is Achoo killing people who annoy him with black magic?  Will Ding Dong ever stop talking?  We don’t care because the dubbing and dialogue is terrible (in a good way), the director throws around snakes and worms like rice at a wedding, and you never know what kind of goofy thing will happen next.  Unrestrained and entertaining, it’s worth noting that the fact that things are so different over there (family life and obligations and honor and beliefs, especially over 30 years ago) that it makes things seem even more wacky.  Censorship was so tough that they could not show anyone kissing in their movies (all the scenes of Ku and Shirley making out are done slightly off camera, like gore in a PG-13 horror movie; tho the disembowelment and bug puking is shown with a cold eye and no turning away at all).  Ghosts and vengeance were a way of life (evidently they still are- I just read a story about a woman in China who got stuck between two buildings, and her calls for help were ignored for hours because people thought she was a ghost) so the comical reactions of people to the ghost isn’t really hyperbole.  The whole movie is pretty amusing, and worth a look if you can find it (I had to find it through underground VHS trading back in the early ’90s (“Ok- I’ll record you a copy  of Buio Omega and Make Them Die Slowly if you’ll send  me a recording of Xie Mo and Trap Them and Kill Them“,  Though you often got the same movie under several different names, it was still like finding buried treasure)).

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UPDATE: OK, evidently someone has just recently uploaded the whole damn thing to youtbe.  Good for them!:
Xie Mo on youtube

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