EEL BARFING. Rat chewing. Bat melting. Blood spitting. Face melting. Voodoo. Snakes. Reanimation. Regurgitation. Puke eating. Guts. Black magic. Brain stew. Tits.
And that's just the first 30 minutes of The Boxer's Omen—before the real hallucinatory passages kick in.
Indeed, this Hong Kong grindhouse mish-mash is nothing if not weird. The film's acidic peak, a battle between two wizards (I think), is akin to the moment where a day-tripper realizes they've taken too much. The drugs are in control now. The Fear is coming.
It's just this kind of far-out psycho-flip that attracted Portland's King of Grindhouse, Dan Halsted, to the film. "I wouldn't want to show it if weren't weird," Halsted told me after a recent midnight screening. Omen comes from the treasure trove of over 140 exploitation films Halsted unearthed from an abandoned theater in Vancouver, BC, last year ["Saving Shaolin," Film, September 10, 2009]; he believes this print to be the last remaining copy on 35mm. While the print is in fine shape—an entirely different experience than the bootleg swamps of so much lost grindhouse—only a handful of Omen's scenes are framed and lit well enough for the film stock's quality to shine.
Originally produced by Hong Kong luminaries the Shaw Brothers in 1983, Omen is a mix of grindhouse subgenres. Despite the appearance of kung fu legend Bolo Yeung, the film is only dotted with hand-to-hand combat—gory, gut-spilling magic rules the day. Somewhere underneath all the goopy special effects, there's a revenge story—but it's incomprehensible, totally beside the point, and clouded in myth, coincidence, and perverted Buddhism.
So really, the question here is simple: Do you, like Halsted, wanna get weird? Do you wanna spend two hours experiencing violent hallucinations, only without the drugs?
The answer is clear—you freaks know who you are.