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  Oily Maniac He's one slick operator
Year: 1976
Director: Ho Meng-hua
Stars: Danny Lee, Ku Feng, Chen Ping, Lily Li, Angela Yu Chien, Terry Liu, Hua Lun
Genre: Horror, Sex, Action, Trash, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: If you can resist a title like that, you’re a stronger man than I am. Probably a more sensible one too. The mighty Shaw Brothers produced this surreal horror fable, which the opening credits inform us was based on a folk tale and shot in Malaysia. Jaunty music plays over travelogue shots of Malaysian scenery. When sleazy gangsters threaten his daughter Little Yue (Chen Ping), struggling small business owner Lin Yang-ba (Ku Feng) accidentally kills one of them and is sentenced to death. Prior to his execution, Lin calls on crippled lawyer Sheng Yung (Danny Lee) to protect his daughter and imparts an ancient spell that transforms our hero into a slimy monster with glowing eyes and superhuman strength.

When the surviving triads try to rape Yang-ba’s daughter, Yung wreaks gooey vengeance, yet in human guise is spurned by childhood sweetheart Little Yue, who shacks up with a white-flared lothario. Driven over the edge, Yung becomes the incredible melting vigilante, sliming wrongdoers all over Hong Kong. Led by the incredibly idiotic Inspector Lau (“That oily maniac makes trouble everywhere!”), the cops remain clueless until kindly, lovelorn secretary, Xiao Li (Lily Li) stumbles onto his secret.

Hong Kong film fans know Danny Lee for his heroic roles opposite Chow Yun Fat in John Woo’s The Killer (1989) and Ringo Lam’s City on Fire (1987), or for the run of slightly distasteful crime-horror movies he directed in the 1990s. But once upon a time, Lee headlined some of the wackiest films ever produced at Shaw Brothers. Sandwiched between goofball classics Super Inframan (1975) and The Mighty Peking Man (1977), this slapdash horror effort includes all the regular exploitation ingredients (black magic, violence, monsters, nudity, rape) alongside DIY special effects. The rubbery monster resembles a half-melted Swamp Thing clone from mid-seventies era Doctor Who, and reaches a gloopy height when he rises from a bathtub to menace one naked lady.

The silly concept requires Yung douse himself in oil in order to transform. Which results in ridiculous scenes where Danny Lee, seething with vengeful fury, smears himself with cooking oil or else dives into a barrel of the stuff before some baffled road workers. Nevertheless, no-one could accuse Lee of not giving his all. He throws himself into ridiculous situations with utmost sincerity, despite a poorly paced plot that often lapses into bad taste. These include a pop star out to sue her plastic surgeon for a botched boob job providing us a gratuitous glance at her maimed mammary, and the lady surgeon who agrees to restore a young hooker’s virginity for client satisfaction.

Missteps aside, this offers a few laughs when the Oily Maniac invades the operating theatre to stomp heads or beats a blackmailer to death with his own bicycle. All accompanied by John Williams’ theme from Jaws (1975)! Overall it offers neither the gross-out thrills of Ho Meng-hua’s Revenge of the Zombies (1976) nor the campy fun of his The Mighty Peking Man, and - needless to say - remains impossible to take seriously.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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