Hong Kong horror madness from the eighties! A witch with a detachable head that flies around, complete with a spine and pulsating internal organs hanging from it, biting people? An evil wizard who secretes magic snakes from his eyes? If you’re laboring under the delusion that you’ve seen it all, this film is for you!
The only available print of 1982’s WITCH WITH FLYING HEAD (FEI TOU MO NU) is in Cantonese without subtitles, so I’ll confess that many of the story’s subtleties were lost on me. The film is a Hong Kong horror movie, meaning it’s fast, cheap and features many references foreign to western viewers. Snake barfing is a given, as are Buddhist incantations and obscure (to non-Asian audiences) magic rites, not to mention a number of gratuitous martial arts fights. Evil flying heads are themselves minor staples of the Asian film industry, having been featured prominently in this film and the Indonesian flicks QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (1979) and MYSTICS IN BALI (1981)
A young woman is praying at the sight of a Buddhist temple when a vile serpent emerges from atop the building and turns into an evil sorcerer, who secretes a tiny snake from out of an eye which promptly slithers into one of the woman’s orifices (I won’t say which). It must be a powerful snake; it gives its host the power to sprout long fangs and detach her head, which in turn flies around with its internal organs attached. Under the cover of night, the woman, controlled by the evil snake (we get periodic close-ups of the critter slithering through her internal organs), sends her flying head around to bite folks’ necks; the head can also breathe fire and shoot lasers from its eyes.
Eventually, though, the woman grows wise to the slimeball responsible for her condition, and takes him on in a downright psychedelic duel that climaxes with the sorcerer turning back into the snake he was to begin with, which itself flies through the air. It’s no match for the flying head, though
Someone named Lian Sing Woo directed WITCH WITH FLYING HEAD. There’s really no point going into particulars, as it’s standard Hong Kong fare in most respects: cheap, sleazy and, perhaps most importantly, FAST. The camera never stops moving and there are lots of zooms. The special effects, however, are fairly impressive considering this film’s obvious limitations. The period detail is also passable (it seems like nearly every Hong Flick made in the seventies had to have a feudal setting).
Note also the soundtrack, which, as did innumerable other 1980s era horror-fantasy flicks from Asia, blatantly steals music from Hollywood fare, most noticeably THE BLACK HOLE (1979), CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) and STAR TREK 2 (1982).
WITCH WITH FLYING HEAD
Director: Lian Sing Woo