Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Beasts, Spitting on the Grave in China

About the same time as Camille Keaton shocked the world with her portrayal in "I Spit on Your Grave," Chinese cinema released their own rape/revenge spectacular, 1980's "The Beasts." The rape/revenge sub-genre of exploitation films is indeed an international phenomenon. Whether in rural America or in rural China (as today's film is set), when the pretty are soiled...some thug is going to get castrated.
Ah Ling! That's her name, so I should probably say Ahhhh, Ah Ling (Ching Chee Chong). The nubile gal is so pure, and even wears white (probably has a heaping supply of that ancient Chinese secret...Calgon). She and her brother Ah Wah (Eddie Chan) go camping in the woods and meet up with the pretty and amorous Pauline (Siu Ling Wong) and her beau, and the shy and cute Louis (Paul Bo-Law Chung). They stop by a rural village where a gang of thugs who haven't had a woman in a while get a glimpse of them. As Ling then is left at a waterfall, the thugs move in and in a very brutal scene, they violently humiliate and rape her. When Ah Wah finds his sister spread out naked on the rocks, he goes after the thugs...bad idea. Ah Way is then killed.
The authorities can't do much. This rural town sticks together and doesn't like outsiders. Ah Ling is the only witness and she is now in a padded cell in a lunatic asylum. Enter Ah Ling's loving dad (Sing Chen). He arrives and immediately crafts bladed weapons and some nice booby-traps which would make Rambo proud. Dad isn't only interested in killing all the thugs, but also inflicting as much pain as he can. He'll go right to work. One poor chap will be hung upside down with dozens of snakes in his pants, eating his groin. The ever-shrinking group of thugs rebounds and begins to hunt the dad. As a war ensues, the dad is un-merciless. Bear traps, machetes, rope, snakes, and spikes are only a few of the revenge-tools that will victimize our unfortunate thugs.
Will the dad kill everyone in the village? Will the drooling and insane Ah Ling ever recover her beauty and nubile-ness? Is this film a statement of the backwardness of rural society in China in hopes that people eschew their fondness for it in favor of building up major cities? Okay...that's a real reach. This film is brutal and hard to watch, especially the fate of the sweet Ah Ling. Not the feel good movie of 1980, "The Beasts" is for anyone who gets satisfaction viewing rape/revenge cinema.

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