• Hex



    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: September 26th, 2016.
    Director: Kuei Chih-Hung
    Cast: Ni Tien, Yung Wang, Szu-Chia Chen
    Year: 1980
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    The Movie:

    From director Kuei Chih-Hung, the same man who gave us Boxer’s Omen, the infamous Killer Snakes and the amazing Corpse Mania, comes 1980’s Hex, a horror picture just as nuts as anything else in his filmography. The movie is set in a small Chinese town where a woman named Chan Sau Ying (Ni Tien) suffers not only from ill health but also from an abusive husband, Yeung (Yung Wang). Their marriage was arranged some time ago and Yueng, not happy that his bride’s family’s money has started to dry up, is a hard drinking, wife beating asshole. Things seem like they’re about to get better when Yi Wah (Szu-Chia Chen) shows up on their door step. She claims to be an old family friend and has arrived to help out while Chan recovers from her illness.

    At first things seem okay, but then one night, when Yi Wah throws away some of Yeung’s calligraphy work, he snaps and in a drunken rage beats and rapes her. She fights back and before you know it, Yeung has been drowned in a giant pot and his body tossed into a nearby swamp. You’d think this would be the end of it, but as it turns out, it was a plot to get rid of Chan! Yeung’s not really dead and Yi Wah not really a friend of the family. Yeung comes back ‘as a ghost’ to haunt the women until eventually, Chan is killed and he and Yi Wah can be together. Unfortunately for them, Chan is intent on getting back at them… from beyond the grave!

    Chalk full of bizarre imagery, Hex is pretty crazy stuff. Corpses zip around all over the place, occasionally puking blood, while bodies get hacked up and ooze green pus. The violence in the film is pretty strong and consistently over the top, and if the gore effects aren’t ever really all that convincing, they’re at least gross enough to pack a punch. This combines in interesting ways with a whole lot of arcane Buddhist rituals intent on cleansing the aging estate of evil, to create a genuinely atmospheric picture.

    But yeah, the last third of the movie? That’s when Hex really goes for it. It’s then that the ‘ghost’ really ramps things up only to come face to face with one of the most bizarre exorcism/cleansing ritual scenes you’re ever likely to see, or at least the one involving the most blatant full frontal nudity. It’s a bizarrely sexual scene with the erotic content coming pretty much out of nowhere (there’s nothing in the movie leading up to this aspect of the finale!), but it isn’t something you’ll soon forget… unless you’re used to naked women with their heads shaved characters painted all over their bodies writhing about in gooop and ash flailing about and moaning in ecstasy.

    It’s also worth noting that the film appears to be completely uncut, and it includes a quick scene where what looks to be a very real snake is hacked up with a cleaver (are the BBFC loosening up on this or was someone just not paying attention?).

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The AVC encoded 1080p 2.35.1 widescreen transfer on this Blu-ray disc is pretty solid. There might have been some minor DNR applied, resulting in some slight softness and some slightly waxy skin tones, but it’s not a deal breaker. The image is pretty much pristine, showing virtually no print damage at all, while the film’s frequently garish color scheme looks great here. Black levels are solid and there are no problems with any compression artifacts. Detail and texture are typically quite good here as well.

    The only audio option on the disc is an LPCM Mono track in Cantonese with subtitles provided in English only. There are a couple of subtitles flubs here and there but otherwise the audio is problem free. The levels are well balanced and aside from some minor sibilance in a few spots, there are no issues.

    Extras start off with The Studio That Conquered A Continent - An Overview Of Shaw Bros. With Bey Logan. This twenty-three minute featurette sees Logan play host as he gives us a quick but interesting overview of Shaw’s history, with an emphasis on the sixties and seventies boom years. He talks about the key contract players that were involved in the pictures and who eventually became marquee stars and also notes which films managed to make it overseas and hit it big with international audiences. It’s a pretty interesting piece that does a fine job of giving you a quick crash course in the studio’s history. Logan also pops up in the six minute Hong Kong Movie language piece that explains how and why so many films made in Hong Kong were given both Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks

    Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature (the Celestial DVD reissue trailer, not an original theatrical trailer), menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie is also included inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase. The discs come packaged with an insert booklet containing liner notes from Calum Waddel that detail various cultural and historical elements that would seem to have worked their way into Hex and other Shaw Brothers horror films. It’s also worth noting that 88 Films has also included some nice reversible cover art for this release.

    The Final Word:

    Hex is consistently zany throughout but it’s not until the last twenty minutes or so that it really goes off the rails! This is definitely one that fans of esoteric Asian horror should check out, and the Blu-ray release from 88 Films is the best way to do just that.

    Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






























    Comments 5 Comments
    1. edojyoji's Avatar
      edojyoji -
      "...quick scene where what looks to be a very real snack is hacked up with a cleaver (are the BBFC loosening up on this or was someone just not paying attention?)"

      I wasn't aware of the BBFC's previous snack-protection policy
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Ha!
    1. Ignatius's Avatar
      Ignatius -
      "a very real snake is hacked up with a cleaver (are the BBFC loosening up on this or was someone just not paying attention?)"

      The legislation that requires the BBFC to cut animal cruelty doesn't apply to invertebrates. Which is why things like the octopus eating in Oldboy can get through unscathed. There are also exceptions for so-called 'clean kills' which don't appear to have caused the animal any pain, which allows things like the decapitations in Cache and Apocalypse Now, along with most of the animal slaughter in Cannibal Holocaust (except the muskrat).
    1. WestgateGallery's Avatar
      WestgateGallery -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ignatius View Post
      "a very real snake is hacked up with a cleaver (are the BBFC loosening up on this or was someone just not paying attention?)"

      The legislation that requires the BBFC to cut animal cruelty doesn't apply to invertebrates. Which is why things like the octopus eating in Oldboy can get through unscathed. There are also exceptions for so-called 'clean kills' which don't appear to have caused the animal any pain, which allows things like the decapitations in Cache and Apocalypse Now, along with most of the animal slaughter in Cannibal Holocaust (except the muskrat).
      Snakes are reptiles, which are all vertebrates. Despite being invertebrates, octopi are highly intelligent creatures and deserve better treatment by the film world -- first BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, then TENTACLES and now the outrageously redundant twats on the Board of Film Censors -- oops, make that CLASSIFIERS! -- are saying animal snuff films are now jolly-jack splendid, so long as the carnage is confined to creatures outside the Master Vertebrate Race?
    1. Killer Meteor's Avatar
      Killer Meteor -
      The subtitles on this was based on the Mandarin track, which is why there are so many silly flubs when playing them with the Cantonese track.
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