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  Beauty's Evil Roses, The Supernatural sapphic S&M shenanigans
Year: 1992
Director: Lam Wah-Chuen
Stars: Wong Wing-Fong, Alex Fong, Pai Yu-Chen, Tsang Siu-Yin, Yeung Chung-Yan, Jack Wong Wai-Leung, Cho Boon-Feng, Chun Jan-Wang, Lung Tien-Hsiang, Wong Goon-Hung, Woo Dik, Chui Sung-Ha
Genre: Horror, Sex, Action, Martial Arts, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kidnapped by evil Thai witch Da-Shei (Pai Yu-Chen) and her demon lord (Yeung Chung-Yan, styled like a Chinese Ziggy Stardust) various beautiful women in Hong Kong are bewitched via a satanic S&M ritual involving oral penetration by a toothy penis-monster. It turns the women into brainwashed gun-toting, leather-clad hit-women who are also handy for Da-Shei's steamy lesbian fun-times. One such victim is the sister of doofus Hong Kong cop Ah Kung (Jack Wong Wai-Leung) who eventually breaks off fondling his sexy supermodel girlfriend Mannie (Wong Wing-Fong) to investigate. Aided by Cheng (Alex Fong), another cop already on the case, plus the latter’s ball-busting girlfriend-cum-commanding officer (Tsang Siu-Yin) and eventually a helpful Taoist wizard (Lung Tien-Hsiang) the gang's search for the abductees culminates in a frenzied gun battle-cum-kung fu fight at the witch's otherworldly lair.

Among Hong Kong film fanatics The Beauty's Evil Roses has some mild notoriety as one of the most wack-a-doodle, borderline incomprehensible entries in the Category III subgenre. A hybrid kung fu-horror-soft-core porn-fantasy-cop thriller it is also tangentially a parody of the classic superhero serial Black Rose (1965). Indeed the film was released, most likely not by coincidence, the same year as another more high-profile Black Rose parody: Jeff Lau's multilayered nostalgia comedy ’92 Legendary Rose Noire which went on to win best picture at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Lau's film also inspired the later teen comedy Protégé de la Rose Noire (2004), a vehicle for bubblegum Cantopop duo Twins.

On a story level Beauty's Evil Roses is a mess. Haphazard editing renders an already hard to follow plot into a frantic blur of gory set-pieces, girl-on-girl groping, madcap martial arts and intermittently impressive surreal horror sequences at times reminiscent of the delirious Euro-horror offerings of Italian oddball auteur Renato Polselli. Aspects of the film seem to be at least mildly influenced by kitsch B-horror Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973), in terms of style and tone if not plot, spotlighting scenes where macho heroes are overwhelmed by sexually intimidating young women (one scene even has Ah Kung sexually assaulted at gunpoint by one of the devil girls). However the late introduction of the Taoist wizard steers the plot in a more familiar Mr. Vampire (1985) inspired direction.

While nonsensical it is never dull. Cinematographer turned director Lam Wah-Chuen, whose scant filmography includes another soft-core porn-horror romp Devil Girl 18 (1993), the more experimental drama The Runaway Pistol (2003) and latterly several inane rom-coms and teen movies, ensures there is something arresting happening onscreen. Be it a neat shot-on-digital sequence from the penis-monster's p.o.v. delving through a victim's insides, the lively girls-with-guns finale or indeed multiple steamy couplings of both hetero and Sapphic variety. Of the cast beautiful Wong Wing-Fong exhibits the most charisma and personality as plucky Mannie, eventually volunteering as scantily-clad monster bait to lure out the girl-napping devil cult, although Chui Sung-Ha also makes her mark as the most active of the witch's minions.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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