Often referred to Hong Kong’s answer to LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, this is a potent blast of sleazy action-oriented nastiness. Just be advised that, as is the case with many Hong Kong exploitation films, you’ll have to be forgiving!
THE BEASTS (SHAN KOU) first appeared in 1980. It was later released on VHS as FLESH AND BLOODY TERROR, complete with XXX porn inserts. It eventually appeared on DVD in its native Hong Kong, but that version, I understand, was shorn of several minutes’ worth of violent footage. To date it seems that the most complete version exists on a long out of print VHS from England.
The film, for what it’s worth, was remade as SHAN GOU 1999/THE DEADLY CAMP.
A group of horny young people embark on a wilderness hike, among them the air-headed Louis, his girlfriend Ling and her brother Wah. Unfortunately they decide to set up camp in the vicinity of a gang of amoral scumbags.
The day passes without incident, although the “beasts” lurk in the shadows. The following day Ling’s friend Pauline heads off to a secluded field to have sex with her BF, leaving Ling alone by the river. There the scumbags set upon and gang rape her. Shortly thereafter Wah discovers the unconscious Ling and chases down the scumbags, only to fall into a trap where he’s pierced by jagged bamboo and dies.
Following the melee Ling is left to recover in a hospital. Her father, meanwhile, grows determined to avenge Wah’s death.
As for the scumbags, they continue their evil ways, beating up a local man they suspect of having ratted them out to police and forcing him to drink piss, in addition to manhandling women in a bar and sniffing panties on a clothesline. That last act proves fatal to one of them, the frizzy-haired Fu, who becomes the first victim of Ling and Wah’s father.
The latter’s next victim is the hippie-ish Ko, who gets strung up in a tree and then dropped headfirst into a box lined with nails. Ko’s friends succeed in tracking down their attacker, but he escapes.
More nastiness follows when the old man overloads the home of one of his marks, known as Snake, with—appropriately enough—snakes. That leaves two “beasts,” among them the mentally deficient Mo, and nobody is giving up!
This film’s overall tone is defined by the opening scene, showing a boar getting repeatedly gored, and a later one in which a guy puts his nose up against a woman’s butt, only to have her fart in his face!
THE BEASTS is very much a product of the Hong Kong exploitation movie industry, meaning it moves extremely fast and revels in sex, violence and sleaze to a degree matched by very few other movies…of any sort. Unfortunately that also means a lot of shameless overacting, extremely choppy editing (which isn’t helped by the fact that most versions of this film are heavily censored) and an oft-incoherent narrative. Storytelling prowess and craftsmanship admittedly weren’t major concerns of Hong Kong exploitation moviemakers of the 1980s.
Included are a number of horror movie clichés, such as frequent lighting flashes and an opening half hour filled with ominous portents of a type that will be familiar to any slasher movie buff (close-ups of bubbling water, unseen men’s legs seen standing in the foreground, etc). Yet there are also some genuinely inspired bits of imaginative dementia, such as a man warding off vicious dogs by digging up the body parts of a dismembered corpse and leaving them for the pooches to gnash on.
Another notable: the endearing broken-English subtitles, a mainstay of Hong Kong movie imports that here produces howlers like “It’s like Earthquaking,” “Why don’t you great me?” and “The rain is pourcing.”
THE BEASTS (SHAN KOU)
Pearl City Film Productions
Director: Dennis W.K. Yu
Producer: Wallace Cheung
Screenplay: Fong Ling Ching, Lee Ten
Cinematography: Bob Thompson
Editing: Yu Kwok Fung
Cast: Eddie Chan, Sing Chen, Kent Cheng, Ching Yee Chong, Paul Chung Bo-Law, Chun-Man Ko, Joh-Fai Kwong, Ching Wong, Siu Ling Wong