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October 09, 2000

Trick or Treat

Ages ago, I don't remember how long, I was an officer of "NOVA", and
also ran the NOVA mailing list (I still do the latter). I had recently
attended "Anime Expo", in Southern California, and been exposed for the
first time to Hong Kong movies. Sure, I might have seen an old Shaw
Brothers movie on late-night television, but to me that was
'chop-socky', i.e. formulaic and stale.

What I saw at the convention was shown late at night (the 'midnight
movies'), but it was at an anime convention. I guess I got the
formative notion right then that flying people movies were kindred of
the fight show and historical drama as rendered in anime. I was eager to
share what I had seen, and find ways to let others see the same
vigorous, if somewhat ragged-edged, creativity that I had.

For the record, from memory, some of the movies I saw that summer
at Anime Expo, were:

I'm sure I also saw some Jackie Chan movies, but I've seen so many since
then that I can't recall which ones.

In any case, I began noting on the mailing list whenever a midnight
festival of Hong Kong movies was showing at the local art theatre. I'd
share tidbits about the arrival of a Jackie Chan film in limited release
to a regular theater. And I procured some of my favorites and showed
them at NOVA meetings.

Before long, a member who lived in another city and came to the
occasional meeting posted a rather scathing message to the mailing list
protesting the dilution of the club with non-anime. I was stunned. It
was quite a bitter message as I read it. It had never occured to me that
somebody might feel threatened by the casual mention (truthfully not
more than once a month) of local theater showings. And I always showed
my own videos on my own television, in a corner of the meeting, rather
than taking over the main screen.

Maybe I was wrong. I don't know. If so, then maybe I'm heading for the
same attacks in the future. Folks seem generally tolerant of stuff going
on in the corner of a meeting nowadays, and I've shown a few Hong Kong
movies in recent history. So we'll see.

What got me to thinking about this, and reminiscing, is that NOVA is
heading toward it's annual Halloween party (October 21st, Tigard City
Hall ;^)~ ) and I'm weighing two movies in the balance to show in my
'corner'.

The first I have seen, and it is cheesy yet fun. It is called The
Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires
, and was co-produced by Hammer
Films (a well-known American producer of horror films from the
mid-fifties to the mid-seventies) and Shaw Brothers (a famous Hong Kong
studio at the time, and known for more than just kung-fu). Peter Cushing
plays Professor Van Helsing. The premise is that Dracula has moved to
China to rule over the Seven Golden Vampires, and Professor Van Helsing
agrees to help the inhabitants fight them. This movie is notable for
it's kung-fu vampires!

I think it's a lot of fun, and my only reservation is that the movie has
some images of women with exposed breasts. This occurs when the 7GV are
raiding the village to get fresh victims, and in their temple when they
prepare to drink their blood. In all honesty, it's not the least erotic,
but one must think about these things in our Puritan society.

I thought I might be able to bypass this problem with a neat trick. See,
the DVD has two versions of the movie. The second version, titled The
Seven Brothers Meet Dracula
, is ostensibly the version originally
released in the U.S., whereas the first would have been for the wider
world audience. Great, I thought. The second version will be a
prude's version with no breastage, and I can show that one
.

But it was not to be. The second one has the exact same scenes
with exposed breasts as the first. The real difference is that the
second version has been edited down to a much shorter film. The result
is that the story which was enjoyable in the first version is a jumbled,
confusing mess in the second. Out with that option. So I'm taking an
informal poll on the NOVA ML to see if there are any objections to
showing it, if ample notice is given.

I have another candidate, which while gorey, is so only in a cartoony
over-the-top way. It is called "Bio-Zombie" and is a Hong Kong
homage/rip-off of Dawn of the Dead. I have recently done a
preview screening of it, and review it elsewhere on this site. I'd have
to agree with other reviewers who say it is corny and that the violence
is over the top. That sounds just about right for a Halloween party.

Posted by dpwakefield at October 9, 2000 05:20 PM