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屍氣逼人 (1999)
House of the Damned

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 07/07/2009

In “House of the Damned”, Teresa Mak keeps most of her clothes on and is raped by a demon; Yeung Faan and Lonel (Lonely) take most of theirs off and are raped by the same demon; Chapman To is a an obnoxious, horny and generally unwanted guest and Helena Law is a crazy old lady who casts spells and who has an evil secret. There is a very nonfrightening and barely repulsive undead corpse, a Taoist practitioner who Lam Ching Ying would cross the street to avoid and a purse snatcher who clearly wasn’t cut out for his chosen career.

Teresa Mak wears a black sports bra and white knickers under most of her outfits—or at least those that are removed by the invisible demon. In one scene she is saved from ravaging when the ghostly rapist realizes she is menstruating. Teresa explains that the demon can’t deal with a woman’s period but without explaining how she happened to know that or why she wasn’t concerned about the next visitation.

The movie opens on an appropriately spooky note as we watch a provocatively dressed and attractive young woman stumbling through a dark, unfamiliar alley with only the flame from her cigarette lighter to show the way. She is headed for apartment where she sublets a room from a creepy old lady in a wheelchair. The landlady uses candles for light and likes to wait up in the semi-darkness to yell at her tenant for staying out late. The tenant yells back. Meet Aunt Nan (Helena Law) and May (Yeung Faan) her newest tenant.

May spends the next few scenes getting undressed, putting on a robe, taking it off to get in the shower, soaping up and then being frightened by an unseen being that pulls back the shower curtain. This is the ghost who will cause so much trouble for the rest of the film and its manner of manifesting itself allows the director several points of view to show Yeung Faan naked and wet. We follow her into the bedroom where may prepares for bed then smokes marijuana while talking on the phone to another lady of negotiable virtue comparing notes on customers they had that evening. May has been established as an attractive drug using prostitute and so is marked for death. May’s last scene in which she is raped by the ghost is leering and voyeuristic but so badly done by all concerned (although Yeung Faan seems to put all of her slender talent into it) that it is goes on much too long perhaps even for the trenchcoat brigade.

Next we see Kate (Teresa Mak) and “Big Bust” (according to the subtitles) checking the classifieds and finding a great apartment. They are so excited that they miss the front page article on how a young woman died after falling from a window from that apartment. Kate and Big Bust (Lonel) are actresses working on a nearby shoot where Chapman To is a very annoying extra. Chiu (Eric Wan) is also affiliated with the production or maybe just hangs around, but he is in most of the “backstage” scenes.

Everyone is in place for the rest of the movie which plods along to its inevitable and not at all frightening end. The climax occurs when Aunt Nan (deranged and deadly), her son (dead and not happy about it) and Kate (possessed and brandishing a huge knife) have Chiu pinned to the ground, attempting to kill him. They don’t but by then it doesn’t really matter.

Dull and not recommended.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: White Dragon
Date: 11/16/2005

Friends Kiki (Teresa Mak) and Big Bust (“Lonely”) take up accommodation in a Hong Kong housing estate flat with creepy old wheelchair-bound lady Aunt Nan (Helena Law), unaware of the prior unexplained death of the former hostess girl tenant (Yeung Fan). Pretty soon a ghostly force is attempting to rape both girls, prompting their friend Chak (Chapman To) to call on movie-star chauffeur and exorcist Chiu (Eric Wan) to expel the salacious spirit.

Director Bosco Lam, of A CHINESE TORTURE CHAMBER STORY fame, proves once again that his prior hit was a real one-off. Pretty average, apart from some totally gratuitous nudity (thus, viewer discretion is advised for younger audiences), and the narrative runs on an inverse PSYCHO thematic. Adult thematics and Taoist mysticism kept me interested, I don’t know how other viewers would fare. However, if ghostly rape, needless nudity and cornball slapstick is your bag, then I'm sure there's worse B titles out there than this one. Notable for an early appearance by Chapman To in a supporting role.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 11/21/1999
Summary: House of the Damned (1999)

In the past two months, several Hong Kong movies opened suddenly. They were either released in a sub-circuit or in a few cinemas. For example, in the Newport-Empire circuit, we had 'Indecent Woman' in mid-September. Now we have Bosco LAM's 'House of the Damned'.

'House of the Damned' is a vampire-related movie. The movie starts in the days near the Ghost Festival when ghosts can -- come out from the damn. Aunt Nan (Helena LAW Lan) owns a house with a room available for rent only for women. May, a hooker, rents the room. One night she is raped and killed by a ghost in the room while Aunt Nan is singing 'Twilight Zone'. The day after May is killed, two girls -- Kiki (Teresa MAK Ka-kei) and 'Big Bust' (Lonely) -- rent the same haunted room. One night, Big Bust's clothes are suddenly torn. They feel there is a ghost sleeping on them. Big Bust is so scared that she seeks help aggressively. On the other hand, Kiki is unconcerned. They try to find CHOW Tung who boasts that he is an anti-ghost specialist, but he is killed terribly by a car that seems to be driven by no one. Kiki's colleague Chiu (WAN Tin-chiu), a low profile guy who has anti-ghost skills, advises them to move out of the house as he finds that the real truth behind the ghosts is more horrible than they thought ......

'House of the Damned' seems like a typical vampire movie. As such, it could have been developed in lots of ways. For example, filmmakers could have made it sentimental by emphasizing the love and feelings of Aunt Nan and her son. They could have made it erotic by focusing on the girls with torn clothing. They could also have made it horrifying by emphasizing the terror of the characters.

Unfortunately, 'House of the Damned' is too ambitious to pull off all of them. As a result, the filmmakers achieve none of their goals. They seem to lack both skill and confidence in their plot. For example, to show the existence of the ghost, you see that the girls' clothes are torn and that they look like they are being raped. Unfortunately, the effect isn't erotic enough, and it's repeated many times throughout the movie which makes the audience feel bored and annoyed.

The first 15 minutes of the movie could make audiences give up watching. The filmmakers want to make it horrifying but they make it boring instead. Audience are exhausted by seeing May bathing for two minutes.

The role of Helena LAW Lan is very important in explaining the whole movie. However, her role is too shallow to explain her character. As the mother of a dead son, she should have a deep love for him. The movie fails to show this point. This makes the whole plot development nonsense.

WAN Tin-chiu, who worked on ATV and who started his film career after his success in the TV Drama 'I Have a Date with the Vampires', has done three movies -- 'Horoscope I: The Voice from Hell', 'Erotic Nightmare' and 'House of the Damned'. WAN's role is very similar to his character in 'Erotic Nightmare'. Once again, he is an anti-ghost master. Audience could start feeling bored by his similar roles in films.

The roles of the girls in the movie are also questionable. Their function in the movie is only for their screaming and nudity. The plot does give Kiki a romantic story line, but her acting is not strong enough to make audiences feel for her.

'House of the Damned' is a traditional vampire type movie. Unfortunately, due to the plot's lack of focus and the filmmakers' lack of skill, it is annoying to watch. WAN is repeating his roles, and ruining his career.