• The Rape After - Movie Review

    Director: Moon-Tong Lau (as Tom Lau Moon-Tong)
    Cast: Cheng-Yu Chang, Tsui Sul, Yau Hau Chan
    Year: 1984

    The Rape After: A Hong Kong Fulci Film
    By Alex Kattke

    Horror fans tend to be explorers. They search through the depths of forgotten pop culture looking for the weird, the disturbing, and the secretly great films. They either dumpster dive (literally sometimes) or keep their ear to the ground ready to pick up on something new. Hong Kong horror and exploitation films are one such niche. Most of the notable ones aren’t exactly horror per se but are more or less true crime pictures or ultra gory made for the Lifetime Channel pictures such as the case with the Daughter of Darkness series. Even the Untold Story AKA Bunman is a true crime movie and was considered the HK equivalent to The Silence of the Lambs (winning lead actor Anthony Wong an award for best actor in his native Hong Kong). When you venture outside of the true crime pictures and look for a real genuine horror film from Hong Kong that focuses on the supernatural or does away with pratfalls and forced comedy; you realize that there isn’t very much. It is a niche with few standout productions that reward those explorers with rough diamonds but mostly Fool’s Gold.

    Real Hong Kong horror begins and ends with The Rape After*. It is rare that I watch fictional film filled with such dread and melancholy like all good folk lore.

    A woman named Shu Ya serves as a special needs teacher at an orphanage filled with deformed children. A child (later revealed to be her brother) asking for their mother is goaded to make the teacher a coffee, which he stirs using a decaying finger. The woman forces a smile after drinking it and subtly spits out the coffee in disgust.

    She comes back to her mother, fervently beating on a ritualistic drum trying to rid her home of spirits and past memories.

    We’re then introduced to our protagonist, a photographer taking photos of Shu Ya at what looks like an old temple. He sees a statue of a demon that fancies him and takes it home. He later woos Shu Ya and takes her to his home. She finds a pair of panties on his bed and he jokingly asserts that the panties are a trinket to ward away evil. He wines and dines her where they both fall asleep. Unbeknownst to either of them, an avatar of the statue awakens and rapes the woman.

    Our photographer abruptly leaves in the morning, believing the encounter to be another one night stand; we cut to the owner of the temple being informed that his statue has been stolen. Shu Ya returns home and is informed of the bad fortune of her family, replete with a rat emerging from a cadaver’s mouth. Our photographer soon meets another woman, the daughter of the owner of the temple and via montage they are to be wedded. Shu Ya re-enters the photographer’s life, demanding he take responsibility for her imminent child. Soon, they get into an auto wreck and she dies in a fire, cursing him with her last breaths.

    The housekeeper of the temple has bad omens and informs the newlyweds of the significance of the stolen statue: it housed the ashes of a dead child. Slashing, supernatural disasters, ghost children and zombies ensue.

    The Rape After is a rare spectacle for Hong Kong horror. It doesn’t have any comedy at all. You’d be surprised to see how rare that is for a Hong Kong genre film. It’s very effects-heavy, reveling in the gore like Fulci or Hershel Gordon Lewis. Lastly, it’s very clearly inspired by Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead as it uses the same exact blue lighting scheme present in key sequences in Fulci’s film. Not to mention the tonal similarities. Plus there’s a very clear visual homage.

    It may have come out hot off the heels of the more known Shaw Bros’ production Seeding of a Ghost (a film that has enjoyed an actual DVD release) as both pictures have a similar premise. But they couldn’t be more different from each other. Especially with the Shaw picture pausing to shoe-horn some comedy into the proceedings. Curiously, the title of the Rape After has been amended on IMDB to Devil Fetus 2: the Rape After. A fairly recent amendment that someone mistakenly made as it has nothing to do with 1983’s Devil Fetus which is another film with a similar premise not executed as well.

    The Rape After is one of the great unknown horror films exploring a niche unknown to many Westerners: superstitions and the occult of Asia. The Rape After always tries to one up itself with sequences filled with rot and vomit almost oozing out of the frame. In short, perfect material for Halloween for the more experienced explorers.

    *The only other movies that are maybe on the same level as The Rape After are the much more recent Dumplings (2004) and Dream Home (2010).

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. agent999's Avatar
      agent999 -
      I've had this film on my tablet for ages but never got round to watching it. Will have to make it one of the October 31.