This 1976 sequel to the Shaw Brothers classic BLACK MAGIC lacks the narrative drive of its predecessor, but makes up for it in sheer outrageousness. I don’t agree (as a DVD cover blurb states) that this is “one of the all-time great Hong Kong horrors,” but it is definitely one of the wildest.
Hong Kong’s Run Run and Runme Shaw are remembered primarily for their martial arts potboilers of the seventies, but their horror output of the same period tends to be unfairly neglected. The Run Run Shaw produced BLACK MAGIC 2 (GOU HUN JIANG TOU), initially released in the U.S. as REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES, far outdoes the Runme Shaw produced part one, and remains one of the Shaws’ most noteworthy efforts in the genre. Others include SEEDING OF A GHOST, CALAMITY OF SNAKES and the breathtaking BOXER’S OMEN.
A young woman named Margaret is put under the control of an eighty year old sorcerer, who’s surreptitiously obtained a drop of her blood. He uses the blood to bewitch Margaret by spitting it on a wax doll he’s created in her likeness.
The sorcerer maintains a youthful appearance by drinking Margaret’s breast milk. He ensures a steady supply of said milk by giving Margaret a liquid to drink whose ingredients include burned pubic hair. This also gets her really horny!
Of course the sorcerer doesn’t need to chase women, seeing as how he has an army of zombies at his disposal. Among the sorcerer’s zombie army is an ancient woman who turns into a youthful hottie when he hammers a spike through her head and drips blood on her breasts. This zombie babe seduces Margaret’s boyfriend, but in the middle of their tryst an amulet the guy wears around his neck causes her to revert to her natural hideousness. The guy is later killed by the sorcerer, who previously cast a spell on him without his knowledge.
More black magic is emitted by the sorcerer upon Margaret’s circle of friends, and it seems that all hope is lost…until a good sorcerer shows up to dispel his antagonist’s black magic by beating the victims with a dead animal. The good sorcerer doesn’t last long, however, as he’s killed by the other with his magic dolls.
With the evil sorcerer growing increasingly desperate, he unleashes his undead army. However, he doesn’t take into account the magic amulet of the earlier scenes, which is capable of searing the flesh of him and his zombies, and ending their rein of terror permanently.
This film is very much in keeping with most seventies-era Shaw Brothers productions with its impressive widescreen images and relentlessly sensationalistic editing. This ensures at the very least a film that’s always fun to watch, and doesn’t skimp on the sex and violence. The narrative, unsurprisingly, is largely a jumble, and further marred by the casting of performers who all look the same.
Yet the sheer craziness of the proceedings is sufficient to hold one’s interest. Not being an expert on South Asian folklore, I can’t say how many of the magic rituals presented herein are based on actual beliefs, but what we’re shown is plenty bizarre. In this film ladies’ pubic hair and breast milk are used in magic invocations, spikes are driven through zombies’ heads, worms writhe underneath peoples’ skin, and voodoo dolls are utilized in eye-opening fashion. BLACK MAGIC 2 isn’t a good movie by traditional standards, but as a gonzo peek into a culture whose excesses far outdo our own it’s damn good!
BLACK MAGIC 2 (GOU HUN JIANG TOU; REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES)
Director: Meng Hua Ho
Producer: Run Run Shaw
Screenplay: Kuang Ni
Cinematography: Hui-chi Tsao
Editing: Hsing-lung Chiang
Cast: Ti Lung, Ni Tien, Lily Li, Feng Lin, Wei Tu Lin, Hi-Ju Liu, Lieh Lo, Chih-Li Ou, Cheng-cheng Wang, Frankie Wei