8. Dr. Lamb (Danny Lee, Billy Tang, 1992)
One of the most notorious film, even among the CAT III films, “Dr Lamb” is based in the actual case of Lam Kor-wan, a taxi driver who would pick up female passengers, strangle them with electrical wire, take them to his family home, and dismember them.
The film starts with a young boy being bullied by his stepmother, who later becomes the aforementioned taxi driver. One day, he is arrested by cops as part of an investigation surrounding obscene photos. However, when the police investigate his house, they discover a number of photos of murdered women. Eventually, Lamb loses it and starts confessing his crimes with horrifying details.
The film’s grotesqueness, however, derives not from the hideous crimes, which are not depicted so graphically, but from the tactics of the policemen, who go to brutal extremes in order to extract a confession, with their tactics including physical and psychological violence. Some extreme humor, titillation and a truly horrible ending give the film additional levels of cult.
7. Untold Story (Herman Yau, 1993)
Having many similarities with “Ebola Syndrome” and based on an actual case of the “Eight Immortals Restaurant Murder”, like “Dr. Lamb”, “Untold Story” is an equally notorious CAT III production.
In a role that netted him his first Best Actor award at the 13th Hong Kong Film Awards, Anthony Wong plays Wong Chi-hang, the aforementioned culprit. In the beginning of the film, he is fleeing the police and ends up in Macau, where he takes a job at the Eight Immortals Restaurant. Unfortunately for all the people working there, he kills the owners, takes over the establishment, and then starts to kill any employee he suspects of knowing the truth, in the most brutal way.
The police, headed by Officer Lee, eventually manage to arrest him and throw him into a cell with a relative of one of the victims, in order for him to beat a confession out of Wong.
The film is brutally violent from beginning to end, since the horrid murders Wong commits are followed by the actual tortures he endures in prison, which continue even when he is transferred to the medical clinic. In that fashion, “Untold Story” is another film that stresses the incompetence and brutal methods of the Hong Kong police.
6. The Eternal Evil Of Asia (Man Kei Chin, 1995)
A group of four men headed by Bon and Kong travel to Thailand to indulge themselves in sexual tourism, with the sole exception of Bon, who is engaged to Kong’s sister May. While there, they run into a battle among wizards and end up helping one of them, named Laimi, who invites them to stay in his house. While there, however, a tragic sex incident occurs that concludes with Laimi’s sister dying. The magician swears revenge and pursues them to Hong Kong.
Man Kei Chin directs a film that is a nonstop succession of sex, violent action, preposterous humor and special effects, since it lacks any kind of coherence or logic. The sole advantage of his work lies with the atmosphere, which, particularly in the Hong Kong scenes, is quite eerie.
With scenes like the one where Kong’s head transforms into a huge penis, and the plethora of sex scenes that occur in the air, this film is trash cinema at its best.
5. Ebola Syndrome (Herman Yau, 1996)
Probably one of the most offensive entries on the list, “Ebola Syndrome” revolves around Kai San, a fugitive who ends up in Johannesburg after killing his boss and his wife. While there, he finds work in a restaurant. The actual plot initiates when his boss travels with him to an Ebola-infected village to buy pork meat. While there, Kai rapes and kills a local woman and contracts the disease.
However, he appears to be immune to it and soon after, he embarks on a killing spree that begins with raping, killing and dismembering his boss and his wife, and serving them as hamburgers to customers, passing the virus onto them.
Herman Yau directs a film so despicable that it eventually becomes funny, although in a highly unconventional fashion. The racist notions, the constant brutality, and the graphic depictions of hideous actions dominate most of the movie, while the main character is one of the most preposterously evil ever depicted on screen.
However, behind all the extremity hides a surprisingly well made and paced film that excels in terms of narration, building the agony for the frenzied finale while retaining its theme for the whole of its duration. Lastly, Anthony Wong is great in the protagonist role, elaborately portraying a genuinely evil character.
4. Sex and Zen 2 (Chin Man Kei, 1996)
The sequel to the original took the sleaziness to even higher levels, since the abundance of sex scenes is a crucial part of the plot, as it actually advances the story. In that fashion, the evil sorceress Mirage Lady, who knows “sucking” magic, has managed to become the wife of Sai Moon-Kin’s son, infiltrating the house of the aristocrat in order to do harm to the entire family. Sai’s daughter, Yiau, who dresses like a man and wears a chastity armor, along with the righteous man, gets wind of the Lady’s plans and decide to stop her.
Wong Jing, who acts as the producer of the film, probably was the one who pushed the erotic element to such extremes, with one of the sex scenes, between Loletta Lee and Shu Qi, being among the most iconic of the category.
3. Bio Zombie (Wilson Yip, 1998)
Kind of a parody of “Dawn of the Dead” and “Braindead”, “Bio Zombie” is a comedic approach to the zombie genre.
The largely incoherent script revolves around two low-level triads, Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee, who sell bootleg DVDs at a stall and eventually are caught in a situation where a soft drink has been mixed with a bio-weapon that turns people into bloodthirsty zombies.
Wilson Yip directs a hilarious film where the tone constantly switches from drama to horror to comedy while retaining many splatter notions, including graphic violence, cannibalism, and many images of bodily fluids. The film, however, is very entertaining and even artful at moments, particularly due to the chemistry between Jordan Chan and Sam Lee, who feature in the protagonist roles.
2. Dumplings (Fruit Chan, 2004)
Initially part of the compilation horror production “Three… Extremes”, “Dumplings” was expanded into a feature film.
The script is based on a novel by Lillian Lee, who also penned the film, and revolves around Mrs. Li, a former popular actress who watches her looks fail along with her career. Furthermore, her marriage is also in shambles, with her husband, a successful businessman, constantly having affairs with younger women.
In her despair, Li turns to a cook named Mei, who cooks dumplings filled with a secret ingredient that makes their consumers eternally young. Li eventually learns the terrible secret of the recipe, but she cannot stop since the dumplings seem to be working.
The film’s biggest asset lies with the fact that it managed to portray horror as something normal, focusing on the trend that everyone must look as young and beautiful as possible, a sentiment that appears even more fiercely in the entertainment industry. Fruit Chan’s great direction along with Christopher Doyle’s astonishing cinematography are the main ingredients of the accomplishment, with the latter additionally presenting images that manage to retain their beauty despite their extremity.
All of the three protagonists, Miriam Yeung as Mrs Li, Tony Leung as Mr Li and Bai Ling as Mei, are magnificent in their respective parts.
1. Dream Home (Pang Ho Cheung, 2010)
Cheng Li Sheung is a career woman who has been working two jobs in order to take care of her sick father and to fulfill her goal of buying her dream house. However, when she discovers that her accumulated money is not enough to buy the house, she embarks on a killing spree in the neighborhood in order to lower the house’s price.
Pang Ho Cheung presents the story through flashbacks that reach up to Cheng’s childhood, explaining, up to a point, her murderous resolve to buy this specific house. In that fashion, he even included some social elements in the picture.
However, these elements take up a very small portion of the movie, since for its most part, it is a gory horror film that indulges in all kinds of graphic and violent murders, including neck stabbings, toilet injuries and intestine butchering. The astonishing thing is that Cheung even managed to include some black comedy elements in this madness, although not many are going to laugh while watching this film.
Josie Ho in the protagonist role gives a great performance, being one of the film’s biggest assets.
Author Bio: Panos Kotzathanasis is a film critic who focuses on the cinema of East Asia. He enjoys films from all genres, although he is a big fan of exploitation. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.