Monday, November 16, 2015

EBOLA SYNDROME (1996)


I first heard about Ebola Syndrome on a list of extreme horror movies I happened upon online and, being a connoisseur of movies of this nature, I knew I had to hunt the thing down and check it out—which wasn’t hard (God bless YouTube!). So, I pushed PLAY and hunkered down to enjoy some CAT III Hong Kong-style exploitation—which, I should add, I expected to be a serious movie.
     Well, I was wrong.
     The movie opens with the line “Lily, go play with yourself”—which filled my mind with images of a beautiful Asian woman buttering her biscuit. Ho ho ho! Now I know I’m in for some quality cinema.
     And then a little girl walks into frame—and I suddenly felt the urge to go shower about five times. Yeah, I felt that dirty.
     Okay okay, so anyways…
     The year is 1986. Kai (Anthony Wong) is caught stuffing his bosses wife by—who else?—his boss! Kai’s boss beats the shit out of him, makes his wife piss on Kai, then threatens to castrate Kai with scissors—who implores him not to because, and I quote, “It is already so small.” Kai then tells his boss to give him the scissors and he’ll castrate himself. His boss, being from a region known as I’m A Fucking Idiot, agrees and hands Kai the scissors, who promptly kills his boss and his henchman, then cuts out the wife’s tongue out. He then turns his attention to the bosses daughter Lily, dousing her in gasoline and is about to light her on fire when they are interrupted by a guy from the What The Fuck Am I Doing Here? department. Kai makes a casual exit from the apartment, irritated at the guy for interrupting him (why he doesn’t just kill him and Lily is beyond me). Fast forward to ten years later. Kai is now living in Johannesburg, South Africa, working in a restaurant with his boss and his bullying wife. Lily, now an adult, comes into the restaurant and promptly vomits (which she explains is because of the smell of blood from Kai, whom she does not recognize). After going to buy pigs from the Zulu tribe, who happen to be infected with Ebola, Kai rapes a female from the tribe and contracts Ebola. Kai, however, is immune to the virus, becoming a carrier instead. After killing his boss and his wife, both of whom he has infected with Ebola, he grinds them up into hamburgers and sells them to the restaurants customers, who then become infected. Then, it is back home to Hong Kong where Kai spreads the virus even more.

     As I mentioned earlier, I expected this film to play it straight. Lo and behold,  black humor and goofiness abound! I found myself laughing uproariously with what was going on on-screen—from the situations to the quips to the one-liners. Several times, I even found myself going, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Nope, the movie wasn’t kidding around. A big chunk of the movie’s comedy lies with Kai, a sleazy, horny scumbag who shouldn’t be likable in any way, shape or form—but is due to the charm and charisma of Anthony Wong’s performance.  Kai is shit and he knows he is shit, and he doesn’t give a fuck who knows it. That attitude alone makes him an endearing character. Even when he is engaged in the most perverted and/or heinous acts, we cannot help but relish right along with him—which probably says a lot about the movie’s audience…or maybe just this writer…uh, anyways…
     Even the minor roles are taken up by characters and actors who bring quirks and charisma to their parts. Kai’s boss Kei is definitely the second-best character in the film. The chemistry between the two characters is great, much like if they were two old friends, and their banter makes for some great comedic quips and one-liners. Oh, and the sex scene between Kei and his wife, Ling, is pure comedy—and has to be seen to be believed. I mean, the shit he says…well, I won’t spoil it for you. Just be sure you aren’t drinking anything. Otherwise, your nose is gonna hate you.
     Of course, what would a Category III film be without the gore and violence? Unfortunately, I was only able to view the cut version of the film, despite the video claiming to be the uncut version, so my comments are based on that version. Honestly though, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and the missing footage (which I looked up) doesn’t really detract from the viewing experience aside from a few abrupt cuts here and there (there was one, however, that caused confusion, but looking up the uncut version of the scene cleared it up quickly). Regardless, the film should satiate the average gorehound. And the effects (all practical) are damn good, especially those used during a scene of an autopsy of a man who died from the Ebola virus, which director Herman Yau obviously relishes given how long the camera lingers.
     The only real problem I had with the flick is that it starts to drag a bit towards the end of the second half after Kai returns to Hong Kong and reunites with a woman and her daughter, but it wasn’t enough to bore me to tears, nor enough to detract from the rest of the movie.
     Ebola Syndrome is a solid exploitation flick and further proof that the best movies are not to be found in America—sadly—but abroad. So grab some friends, some booze and some burgers, kick back and check out Ebola Syndrome—and hope to hell you don’t contract the disease in the process.
 
Ebola Syndrome pisses in the face of decency.

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