Hong Kong, 1990. D: Yam Wu Wong
by Steve Fenton
This emerges as a mediocre H.K. horror / sexploitation / adventure opus. The title is a somewhat gross overstatement of the actual contents, not to mention non-indicative of the cross-genre hybridization lurking behind it.
Our college professor hero Shing Chin Fei entertains a group of his female students at a nocturnal woodland soiree. After the full moon ominously turns a deep blood-red – ooooo, scaaaaryyy! – he witnesses the appearance of a snarling, long-haired evil spirit. This eventually proves to be the fabled “Moon Monster,” acolyte to an ancient Cambodian pagan deity identified in the subtitles as “God of all mother.” In the wake of this creature’s departure, all of Shing Chin Fei’s nubile wards are left stripped, supernaturally raped… and dead. Naturally, Chin Fei becomes police suspect #1 in this brutal triple homicide.
|I learned this trick from Weird Al|
Much of the film’s early portion totals purely gratuitous but relatively tasteful feminine nudity, depicting Chinese starlets in various stages of undress. (Not necessarily a bad thing, some might say!) While not overproduced, the overall construction of T.H.V.V.T.E.D. is slick enough to be moderately diverting.
At the site of one of the vicious murders (the victims all having had chunks bitten out of their throats) the investigating police hero discovers an odd, androgynous statue: complete with both a masculine mustache and feminine breasts, sporting maternal and prominent nipples. This odd shemale idol turns out to be an effigy of that singular Chinese divinity from Laos, the above-stated “God of all mother.”
Much of the central section of HOLY VIRGIN revolves around soap opera-ish and overlong ‘character development’ between the principal three players (two men and one woman; the obligatory smoldering ‘love triangle’). A quick visit to the High Wind Tribe of Cambodia details the black magical origins of God(dess), demon and the “Holy Virgin” specified in the title (aptly named Princess White). The Princess’ billowing vestments and ethereal mode of locomotion were clearly intended to evoke Joey Wang’s alluring supernatural seductress in the CHINESE GHOST STORY series. To keep a potentially long synopsis relatively short, the plot pits the brave Princess White against the minions and machinations of the evil Prince Wolf and the lunar monster he transforms into during nights of the scarlet full moon.
Every three decades on New Year’s Day, “God of all mother” returns to the people of the High Wind Tribe. Our heroes (Prof Shing Chin Fei, cop Chen Yu and Shamen, their mutual love interest) take a trip to Cambodia to intercept the Moon Monster and rescue all those naked native sacrificial virgins from imminent offering. The possessed tribespeople invoke this hermaphroditic god; actually, someone named Mr. Tian, a criminal impostor (who is only tricking them using smoke and mirrors, kinda like the not-so-“Great and Powerful Oz” in THE WIZARD OF OZ). They prepare to offer up a battalion of nude women and similarly stripped Shamen as mortal sacrifices to the phony immortal deity.
T.H.V.V.T.E.D. totals the usual adequate pot-pourri of traditional wired aerial acrobatics, supernatural optical FX, mild gore and tame T&A. Though it is far from big league in either scope or quality, you could do a whole lot worse, and the Q.V.P. company’s erstwhile (circa ’90) VHS videocassette contained a letterboxed, English-subbed transfer print which was much superior to the average no-frills Chinatown rental tape of the time. Also give it credit for at least attempting to create an atmosphere, and for keeping inane comedy relief to a welcome minimum.
While often coming up short in the all-out horror department, THE HOLY VIRGIN VS. THE EVIL DEAD does compensate during some noisy firearms encounters and the odd garnish of gung-ho kung fu. Ultimately, one is left with the impression that it’s an overly-complexly-plotted smorgasbord of disparate ingredients from such then contemporary H.K. hits as CHINESE GHOST STORY (and its sexy rip-off EROTIC GHOST STORY), mainstream crime actioners à la John Woo, combined with traces of Jackie Chan’s ARMOUR OF GOD duo (which themselves were by-products of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK). Frequently too involved for its own good, HOLY VIRGIN amounts to passable and colorfully diverting entertainment nonetheless. Not as demented as SEEDING OF A GHOST by any means, but solid time-killer stuff anyway.
Trivial N.B. – At one point, the film introduces a secondary cop character named “Chau Yuan Fat”; an ‘in-joke’ namedropping THE KILLER’s Chow Yun Fat.