Reviews

Devil Fetus (1983)

Not everyone wants babies. They’re a lot of work. They need to be fed and bathed and clothed and, like, a whole bunch of other stuff. I’ve heard you need to teach them how to walk? Not sure what that’s about; seems like it’s something they could do on their own. I mean it’s so easy a baby can do it. Eventually these drooling, flailing rugrats grow up to be slimy, bloodthirsty sexual assaulters possessed by a demonic spirit who doesn’t give a shit about your feelings or your furniture. Kids, am I right?

Devil Fetus is a 90-minute long prophylactic and a very convincing case for family planning. It is effective as it is genius.

There’s a lively auction at a night market. Up for sale: an ancient jade vase that grants all your wishes. Suk Jing is enraptured by it. She has to have it. It essentially has a giant “Buy It Now” button hanging over it. Listen, I get it. When I saw a glow-in-the-dark Buddha in a gift shop, I had to have it. I mean how could I not? Suk Jing outbids everyone and to the victor goes the spoils.

Meanwhile, two kids wrestle on the living room floor and then fight over chocolate. They bicker and yell and whine and, really, are you sure you want kids? Because that’s what they’re like.

Suk Jing falls asleep with a vase. She has sexy dreams where she makes love to a goopy, gory monster; it looks like a giant black slug with a shock of white hair. But this evening of passion changes her, as it would anyone. She’s grouchy, irritable, temperamental, and tired. She’s scolding the kids, though to be fair they’re assholes and deserve it. 

Her brother-in-law isn’t too concerned. “You know women sometimes are like this.”

Yes, sometimes women can’t think straight because we’re so emotional and pushy and controlling, and obviously we should smile more and stop nagging. But what if we’re “like this” for a reason—and not because we’re on the rag? What if it’s because we have a devil fetus growing inside of us, eating its way through our soul and taking over our spirit? 

Suk Jing is pregnant and dies, but not before her husband turns into a goop-faced demon and jumps out a window. Monks presiding over their funeral explain that she and her husband’s spirits are out in the world causing havoc. The rest of the family is instructed to set up a shrine in their room and leave it alone for twelve years until the parents are reincarnated as humans. I think you know where this is going. But I don’t think you’re ready.

Now twelve years later, the kids are grown up and, as these things go, the shrine is disturbed. The next hour is filled with flying furniture, exploding fireballs, swooping swords, and people who are scared to death by a birthday cake. There’s also a poster of Farah Fawcett and a guy who reaches into his pants to . . . well, you get the idea. There’s an adorable dog named Bobby who is a very, very good boy but also a very, very bad boy. He likes to go up ladies’ skirts because he is possessed by the demon. There’s also a cat, but if I’m being honest here, the dog is way cuter. If you’re a cat person, then I recommend watching The Cat.

Devil Fetus has it all. The practical effects are ambitious; it’s worth watching just for the stop-motion monsters and the make-up effects. There’s a scene where a man claws at his face, pulling off his skin to reveal wriggling maggots. It makes you cheer and wretch. There are also hands that punch out from the ground and then extend for yards to strangle victims and in addition, death by kitchen. It really is a feat of movie-making magic. Devil Fetus also has plenty of exploitive sleaze. There’s sexual assault, horndog ladies who make sexy time with the demon, graphically deep tongue-kissing, and necrophilia. Unfortunately it also has some animal violence; in this case it’s a majestic eagle that gets sacrificed. It’s really the only downfall of an otherwise perfect film. The final twenty minutes is complete mayhem; a bender filled with cocaine, acid, and whatever you stole from your nana’s medicine cabinet. Women spin in the air, a man melts, and a monk shoots lasers with a triumphant pew pew pew. This is Hong Kong Category III filmmaking at its finest and it’s an absolute must-see for anyone considering having kids. 

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