Devil Fetus

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Lau Hung-chuen’s Devil Fetus (1983) is a spectacularly gross and bonkers little film. The budget constraints show but the analogue special effects still pack a punch. Lau Hung-chuen is pretty effective at creating and sustaining tension throughout with his action emphasizing montage. For fans of the golden age of Hong Kong cinema Devil Fetus is a must see.

Devil Fetus‘ story of demonic possession begins when a young woman buys a magical vase at an auction. While masturbating with the vase the vase itself transforms into a giant monster who gets her pregnant. Devil Fetus very quickly graduates from pregnancy horror to possession horror as first a man, a dog, and then our protagonist’s (Eddie Chan) younger brother becomes the vessel of evil. It’s a pretty standard series of developments, but the actors give the material a manic quality that suits Lau Hung-chuen’s editing choices so the film is able to take on a legitimate sense of danger.

The two highlights of the film are the battles with the demon. First a wizard duels the possessed younger brother with his conjuring. In this sequence Lau Hung-chuen utilizes some classic in camera effects, practical effects, and some early digital effects in the case of the lasers shooting out of the wizard’s sword. This battle between good and evil feels like it comes right out of a comic book (I wish the Disney Dr. Strange movie looked like this).

The second battle sees our hero and his girlfriend Juju (Hsiu-Ling Lu) confront and slay the beast. However, they must first decapitate the monster half a dozen times in a sequence that’s pretty hysterical in spite of also being relatively upsetting. The creature costume and make up is really solid and quite clearly where a good deal of the film’s budget was spent.

Beyond the spectacle of horror there’s a real mystery to Devil Fetus that isn’t part of the narrative. As I watched the film I could have sworn that I recognized a handful of the music cues. Then towards the end, during the scene of necrophilia, it dawned on me. I did in fact recognize the music as themes off of Brian Eno’s 1978 album Music For Films. I am fairly confident that Eno’s recordings weren’t properly licensed by the makers of Devil Fetus; though Eno’s work does suit the film surprisingly well.