This Halloween I’m gonna make a few obscure retro foreign horror movie recommendations that you may have missed out on from that oh so sweet era of the genre: the 1980’s! I just checked out a rad little Hong Kong Horror movie from 1987 called ‘Vampire’s Breakfast’!!
This forgotten little horror gem is a load of fun with a heapin’ dose of spooky settings, comedy, romance and action in the way that only Hong Kong cinema delivered back in the day. I really enjoyed how for the most part this one plays the horror pretty straight, keeping the all too usual Hong Kong “slapstick potty humor” out of the equation entirely. For me some of the 80’s Hong Kong stuff can be completely ruined by crappy potty humor and comedy that just plain hasn’t aged well (and keep in mind I’m not normally easily offended either). Nope, here we have a cool cast of characters and genuinely nasty “American/European” style vamp on the loose rather than the traditional Chinese hopping kind. We’ve got some funky footage of Hong Kong in the 80’s here and totally sweet fashion of the era in full swing.
The iconic Kent Cheng stars as a newspaper reporter who’s hot on the trail of a serial killer and after poking around a police crime scene begins to suspect that the killer might actually be a living breathing vampire. No one takes him seriously except a boozed up car stereo thief, who he reluctantly teams up with to track down the suspected bloodsucker. Along the way though he interviews one of the killer’s victims who barely escaped with her life, the oh soooo cute Emily Chu looking as stylee as ever.
Of course it’s love at first sight and we’re then treated to a full on 80’s style Hong Kong “John Hughs” cheezy romance, which is a total charm amidst the horror. The thing I really dig about this is movie, are the horror elements, unafraid to get nasty when it needs to as well as some action sequences that can be pretty exciting as well. No kung fu here though, which is kind of nice actually as it plants this one in a more believable horror setting, but that’s not to say the portly Kent Cheng can’t deliver the kicks, check out 1989’s ‘Vampire Buster’ to see his skills.
There’s a lot to love here if you’re looking for something different this Halloween, the vampire here is plenty fierce as well. He’s got a pretty sinister look and raises plenty of Hell on the foggy streets of Hong Kong. There’s also some unexpected moments of gore as well that ramp things up nicely in the finale. I’d say this one definitely deserves more love and most definitely a cleaned up blu ray release with more fleshed out subtitles. A colorful, creepy tale full of endearing characters and a brisk pace make this one standout viewing this Halloween for those who love uncovering hidden gems from horror’s sweet spot era of the 1980’s.
Up until last night I’d never even heard of the HBO movie ‘Cast A Deadly Spell’ from 1991, but I was lucky enough to run across a VHS copy of this one recently. It immediately peaked my interest, the box had some quotes on it comparing it to ‘Ghostbusters’ & ‘Roger Rabbit’ with monsters instead of cartoons. Sign me up already! The movies a ton of fun and filled with some sweet totally 80’s style fx work as well as an equally impressive cast. It really perplexed me as to why I’d never even heard of this one as it’s something I would have totally dug back in ’91. Hey I think it’s better sometimes seeing a lost gem from way back in the modern era anyway…it takes me way back…
Anyway this cool movie stars Fred Ward as H.P. Lovecraft (seriously, how have I never heard of this movie?!) a private investigator, who hired to track down the legendary book, the Necronomicon. Lovecraft is one of the only people who’ve chosen not to use magic of any kind making his little quest all that much more difficult to accomplish. It’s a full on 40’s noir, placed in a time when witchcraft has been fully exposed to the general populace and things that go bump in the night are far more common than ever before. We’ve got a bunch of neat monsters, werewolves & zombies along the way as well as an awesome scene with some pesky gremlins by way of rad old school puppetry. Hell, we even get a random unicorn that enters the equation into this unique little horror noir comedy.
There’s some cool scenes as well that up the movie’s horror factor with some impressive unexpected gore. There’s weird super powered gangsters, voodoo priests and plenty of that classic style animatronic monster mayhem to behold here. It’s also got it’s fair share of comedy though too and it in ways really is a bit like a horror version of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. Director Martin Campell went on to direct more recent stuff like the god awful ‘Green Lantern’ movie and ‘Casino Royale’. Along side Ward is also Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown & David Warner which is a pretty star studded cast for just how relatively forgotten this movie is today.
The movie spawned a sequel as well in 1994 but I haven’t heard to many good things about that one. There’s never been an official DVD release of the movie, but it certainly deserves one. The movie is available to watch on Amazon and a few other online platforms, so if you’re looking for a little lost nostalgia this one’s a cool little forgotten gem of a movie…
Here’s yet another entry for all you folks out there who STILL get dvds in the mail from Netflix! I know there aren’t all that many of us left these days, but I’m the type of guy who still thinks dvds are the bees knees! Yeah!! So what of it?!! Don’t get me wrong, I still stream stuff on the online Neflix site but let’s be honest most of that shit SUCKS – Hence why I’ve been combing the dvd Neflix library for lost gems!
Good news folks, I found another gem in their vast sea of aging dvds, this time we’re looking at a movie from Hong Kong from way back in 1987: EVIL CAT. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this cool ass little Chinese horror movie but I’m glad I did cuz it was a ton o’ fun! This crazy ass little movie is jam packed with quirk, 80’s electricity and frantic action sequences, basically everything I dig about the 80’s. Director Dennis Yu brings the fun and amps up some seriously ridiculous shit as we follow the exploits of an evil cat spirit (who’da thunk huh?) that’s released from it’s ancient sealed tomb by a construction crew & unleashed upon Hong Kong in the late 80’s.
The movie moves at brisk pace too, the evil cat spirit moves from body to body kinda like that Denzel Washington movie ‘Fallen’ if it was more of a spastic colorful horror romp. It’s actually pretty damn funny when the spirit possesses people, they start acting like wild feral cats growling and scratching like maniacs. It’s pretty cool to see these actors go for it and go pretty far over the top with their possessions.
The evil cat spirit however has problems of it’s own though as we learn over centuries one family has been hunting it and keeping it in check over generations. In the 1980’s there’s an old badass dude from that bloodline who’s dying from cancer who pulls out the old magic bow & arrows from storage to put a stop to the feline madness himself. There’s some sweet plot twists here, crazy characters & some surprising gore that pops in out of nowhere from time to time. The movie never really drags and wears it’s 80’s influences firmly on it’s sleeve. You get a pretty damn fine representation of what Hong Kong was like in the 1980’s, filled with neon and great 80’s fashion. It’s clear if you’re looking for more great crazy cinema from that era, there’s a treasure trove of movies waiting to be discovered from Hong Kong studios.
Evil Cat is definitely worth tracking down and the finale is pretty cool especially when the evil cat possesses a woman who’s nearly as unstoppable as the Terminator! The actual cat spirit is portrayed several times as cool hand drawn animation & then as basically a female cat “creature” pulled from the broadway musical “Cats”.
So while there were several aspects of the movie that could have been done better it was still an incredibly inspired 80’s effort to witness for the first time with no expectations. Also if you’re a fan of kung fu there’s some cool crazy showdowns and plenty of humor thrown into the mix. Some if it being likely being due to some shoddy subtitles and translations that just add more charm to the viewing experience. Track down EVIL CAT or if you still have a Netflix dvd account then throw it into you’re queue!!