HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Eternals
Forever Purge, The
Memoria
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Japon
Glasshouse
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Malignant
Deadly Games
Ailey
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
Zola
No Time to Die
Klaus
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Candyman
Power of the Dog, The
StageFright
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Suicide Squad, The
One Night in Miami...
Old
Prince of Nothingwood, The
Gagarine
Mr. Jones
Enfants Terribles, Les
Slumber Party Massacre
Bones, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
   
 
  Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, The Sna-Fu
Year: 1980
Director: Piers Haggard
Stars: Peter Sellers, Helen Mirren, David Tomlinson, Sid Caesar, Simon Williams, David Franken, Stratford Johns, John Le Mesurier, John Sharp, Clément Harari, Kwan Young-Lee, John Tan, Philip Tan, Serge Julien, Johns Rajohnson, Clive Dunn, Burt Kwouk
Genre: Comedy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Somewhere around 1933, and in a remote area of China the strains of a pipe organ can be heard drifting over the Himalayas. They are emanating from a castle in the mountains which is the lair of Fu Manchu (Peter Sellers) and it is he who is playing the organ, which turns into a rendition of Happy Birthday to You because Fu is one hundred-and-eighty-six today. This calls for a celebration, and he has assembled his henchmen to applaud him and witness him taking the elixir of life, which is brought in by a familiar face (Burt Kwouk) who manages to set his sleeve on fire and puts it out with the precious liquid. What can the evil mastermind do now to prolong his existence?

There is a tradition of movie stars having their last big screen work being one of the worst things they ever appeared in, and for Peter Sellers his Fu Manchu spoof, a Playboy production no less, was little different. It would be nice for any of those celebrities to go out on a high, and the reasons they don't are many, but for him they were very specific: he was a very sick man when he made this, both physically and mentally, and simply was not operating at his best. Recommended to give acting a rest for the sake of his health, he did not heed the doctors' warnings and watching him here you could see he was visibly frail, only sparking into life fitfully.

Therefore it was all too appropriate that his character in this should be desperately trying to find a way to extend his life through arcane means, because Sellers could have done with a magic potion himself. And also, he was his own worst enemy, for he sacked three directors in the process of making his final bow, being so difficult to work with that the production not only became subject to a list of impediments when he wanted to reshoot and rewrite it, but also having to take time off to recuperate from whatever latest stress he suffered in the shooting. Piers Haggard was finally credited as director, but really the faults of this sad little entry into a fascinating career would rest on Sellers' stooped shoulders.

It did offer an insight into where the comedian thought he would be able to get laughs, and given he was close to, or fully immersed in, madness when he made this it does offer the work a ghoulish quality apart from the obvious tired and drawn appearance of Sellers. It was clear the cast were willing to indulge him, but the final result was downright weird in places, yet not weird enough to prompt laughter, more an uncomfortable silence. He played Fu Manchu's nemesis as well, Nayland Smith, the joke being that both men were too elderly to justify continuing their past achievements: more uneasily close to the truth elements, and having Smith's best friend be his lawnmower was more sad and depressing than anything chucklesome. Surreal maybe, but that doesn't alone mean funny.

Among the cast was Helen Mirren who played the police constable recruited to impersonate the Queen for security reasons (hmm...); she auditions by playing the saxophone (miming, really), tapdancing and singing On the Good Ship Lollipop, though not all at the same time. In a hard to believe development she becomes Fu's love interest at his Himalayan fortress, but then there was a lot about this that was tough to contemplate, not to mention blatant evidence this was a work of a man not in his right mind as bizarre situation follows bizarre situation with nary a giggle to be found. Also appearing were TV legend Sid Caesar whose style utterly fails to mesh with the airless humour here, and David Tomlinson whose last film this was as well, a commendably stable characterisation. While this held a certain grimly compelling quality, it understandably never found a solid foundation, its racial caricatures were embarrassing, and it didn't so much end as grind to a halt - with an Oriental Elvis Presley. Music by Marc Wilkinson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3830 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Piers Haggard  (1939 - )

British director who works mostly in television, with the classic serial Pennies from Heaven to his credit; he also directed the final Quatermass series. On the big screen, his best work is the creepy devil worship horror Blood On Satan's Claw. Other films include (some of) Peter Sellers' terrible last appearance, The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, and snake-on-the-loose thriller Venom. He is a relation of novelist H. Rider Haggard.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: