Our latest Halloween Review finds your Favorite Catgirl in Taiwan, for a look at what is being described as Taiwan’s first homemade slasher flick, “Invitation Only”… their contribution to the recent “torture porn” end of the genre.
Our quick synopsis goes like this: “Ordinary young men and women often dream of the unreachable life of the worlds idle rich. Wade, Richard, Hitomi, Holly and Lin certainly do. They have all received an invitation to an exclusive party held by a group of rich & famous people,obviously addressed to them by mistake.But all the same, they attend. It is the best party ever, a wishing game takes place where their deepest desires materialize. But when they find Richards body brutally killed, the wishing game turns into a killing game in which they are the tortured victims and a rich audience the sadistic spectators. To escape from the party and survive is now their only dream.”
Hmmmm? Sounds grisly…. and you know how that sorta goes down for this lil’ Catgirl…. but it is subtitled, and I can never pass up a chance to snag Asian horror with subtitles. So… hopefully it’ll be more of an over the top spoof than a realistic gore fest…. but somehow I doubt it. I just know I’m gonna have nightmares….
When this one came out of my “to watch”pile the other night, Carolyn took one look at the cover with it’s gruesome image of a woman’s severed hand spilling out of a bloody red leather purse and wrinkled up her face and gave me “the look”….. She’s fully aware of my general distaste of “torture porn” and asked me “Now, Miyuki… dear…. I don’t want to tell you not to watch this one, but….. you know you are going to have nightmares again, right? I’m still sore from the last time you smacked me in your sleep you silly goof. Are you sure this is such a good choice for a movie tonight?”
She’s not exaggerating either. I do have some of the most terrible nightmares after watching these sorts of films. I toss and turn…. sometimes I tremble and cry in my sleep, and, at my absolute worst, I scream and lash out, unfortunate for whomever might be curled up asleep with me at the time. Carolyn found herself on the receiving end of some of that after we watched “Martyrs”….. for which I was truly sorry. I just have that sort of vivid imagination and a certain level of paranoia regarding that sort of thing…. even though I’ve never ever been threatened or hurt like that myself for real. So… why watch this one?
I suppose as an amateur “movie reviewer”, I’ve always felt a bit silly about liking horror movies but not all horror movies. Given that… it’s only fair to give such fare a try now and again…. once in a while I even do find one that entertains me along with scaring the panties off me…. Hehehehe!! Was this such a film? Let’s take a look…..
This one starts out in a loud pulsing dance party…. two lovely Asian girls get all sexy together on the dance floor….. (much to my sweet Carolyn’s delight… Such a naughty, naughty girl!!) After this prerequisite hot lesbian dance scene, one of them leaves to powder her nose. While in the ladies room, she finds a purse, obviously forgotten by it’s owner on the counter. She hears a noise…. and thinking she’s not alone, calls out to whomever might be in the bathroom with her. No one answers…… Her worst instincts prompt her to try to peek inside looking to steal whatever nice goodies might be there…. but instead she knocks it to the floor spilling out a woman’s severed head. Before she can even scream, a shadowy figure lurking in hiding grabs her from behind and cuts her throat…. cue those opening credits!!
Next we meet our hero, part time delivery boy and chauffeur for giant construction corporation the Weida Group, Wade (played by Bryant Chang) accidentally catches a rich client, Mr. Yang (played by Jerry Huang), having wild sex in the backseat of his limo with supermodel Dana (played by Japanese AV porn star Maria Ozawa). In a lame attempt to buy Wade’s silence about the incident, Yang gives him an invitation to attend a special “Invitation Only” party in his place masquerading as his cousin. Wade figures it’s a good deal….. and is ever so glad Yang is willing to let the whole incident pass that he jumps at the chance to go.
The party has just one odd twist…. on the invitation, Wade is asked to list his one desire in all the world…. with the implicit idea that it’ll somehow come true. Not certain of what it’s all about he writes down his secret want…. a luxury sports car and then let’s Yang fix up his wardrobe so he can fit in with the other wealthy young things sure to be in attendance.
We’re off to the party… held in a creepy deserted factory/ warehouse waaay away from the city…. getting bad vibes yet? Wade finds himself easily accepted as one of five new “members” of this elitist group founded by an eccentric European financier who apparently throws this same “fantasies come true” theme party every year. Also new to the scene are famous pianist Robert, banking executive Hitomi (played by Julianne Chu), politician Lin (played by Ma Kuo-hsien), and investment specialist Holly (played by He Chia-wen). They are all seemingly as thrilled as Wade to be part of the party…. and share a secret with him, although they don’t know it. They are all impostors just like him…. invited to the party for the “special amusement” of the jaded, sadistic members who like to see ordinary people savagely tortured and killed. But first….. it’s just soooo much fun to tease and delight your victims first by seemingly bringing their secret desires to life. Wade gets to gamble with a line of credit set up for him by Yang, winning big and even scoring with his dream girl Dana before being given that sports car he’s always wanted….
Pianist Robert supposedly gets his one true wish… a piano once used by Mozart but is instead the very first of our little group to get killed. From this point forward, the group gets revealed for the fakes they really are… and then subjected to a chase through the warehouse for the fun of Yang and his buddy the European Financier…. When they get caught, they become part of various macabre torture sessions for the amusement of all the other guests. These are some nasty bits too….. Lin, for example, gets to discover just what happens when your testicles get hooked up to a pair of jumper cables… Brrrrr!!
Here’s where I started to squirm…. and I kept squirming uneasily for the entire rest of the film. Luckily… while nasty in it’s implications, most of the torture scenes are relatively tame compared to some of the other films in this genre. That, and you actually do become sympathetic for poor Wade and nice girl Hitomi…. you really do root for them and want them to survive. For me at least, that’s the only saving grace for a film of this type. Well…. that and you really want to see them punish those evil rich snobs…. and this film doesn’t fail us there. We do get to see Wade get even…. and in a most satisfying fashion. But… will he and Hitomi escape this hell and end up together? Ummm? Well….. It’s not really that sort of movie…..
So how do I rate this one? Well…. for Taiwan’s first foray into this area, it’s not bad at all. While not my general cup of tea, it’s well done with a simple plot that will transfer well from country to country as it get sold into distribution. It’s not even particularly gory either…. and given a couple of good characters for the audience to root for, remembers the cardinal rule for slasher films: “Somebody has to survive… and evil must be shown to get serious payback in the end.” Given these reasons, I can give “Invitation Only” a reasonable 3 “Meows” out of 5, but if my loyal Readers want something… well… repulsively nasty and bloody then this one will probably seem a bit tame to those of you who liked “Saw” or “Hostel”….. I didn’t even have really bad dreams that night… although Carolyn did say I was a bit “restless” in bed. I suppose that’s an improvement… Hehehehe!!
Trailer? Yep…. here it is in all it’s repulsive glory…..