Well… the weather here has turned silly and unseasonably cold again, and on this wee lady’s day off, your Favorite Catgirl Princess finds herself completely unwilling to venture forth on a miserably cloudy, damp, and chilly afternoon to do much of anything. 😦 But… upside is… that means I’m trapped here in the apartment all by my lonesome and can’t think of a decent reason not to finally get back to the business of giving you all another long overdue Review of yet another trashy foreign horror goodie that finally made it’s way to our DVD player a night or two back. So… lucky you.. it’s time for Neko to share her impressions of Malay director James Lee’s 2011 horror film “Claypot Curry Killers”. 😉
Our synopsis? Well here goes… “Following the grisly murder of her mean-spirited husband, a single mother and her three daughters find a way not only to dispense justice against all abusive men but also to make a good recipe for their restaurant’s famous claypot curry dishes. The best thing to do to an enemy, cut them up and eat them up.”
Cannibals, murder, female empowerment… and spicy, yummy curry? Oh heck, yes…. this one definitely sounds like a certain goofy Catgirl’s idea of movie fun. So what the heck are we waitin’ for? Let get to it, shall we?
So this one’s been out there for quite a while… 2010 or so… and Neko’s been eagerly awaiting a release ever since I first caught wind of it all those years ago, but unfortunately this has been one of those stubborn ones that has been stuck in DVD limbo for like forever. Didn’t help that it never ever originally got a theatrical release in Malaysia itself…. having quickly gotten itself banned right after being made for it’s exploitative subject themes of sex, violence, and cannibalism… all absolute taboo “no-no’s” in that country. Apparently… with that kind of stigma and without any theatrical release, that meant that overseas sales of this one were needlessly complicated. I knew it would eventually happen… it was just a matter of where and when. So began this crazy lady’s loooonggg wait.
Eventually that release came. To Germany, where an uncut version found it’s way onto Region 2 DVD and Bluray… but without any English subtitles. Darn…. I had just about convinced myself to bite the bullet, pick up a copy and roll up my sleeves for the torturous task of doing my own translated from the German ones, when another release popped up on Region 4 in the “Land Down Under”, sunny Australia. Ahhhhh…. Australia… I always knew there had to be a decent reason the British moved all those criminals down there all those years ago. Somehow they must have known a certain goofy Catgirl would someday want an English speaking country in close proximity to all her favorite Asian movie sources, all ready and willing to subtitle movies into English just for her. (Ummmm? Wait a minute… You mean to tell me that’s not really why they are there? 😉 )
Anyways, I assumed this one was gonna be pretty darn nasty. I mean… it got banned… right? This just had to mean that “Claypot Curry Killers” was as gory and bloody and downright nasty as some of those really extreme Thai horror efforts like “Meat Grinder” or Indonesia’s “Rumah Darah”. Yep… that’s what I was expecting. Did I get that sort of movie? Ummmm…. not really.
Director James Lee wanted to go that extreme I think, but given that Malaysia isn’t really that open to stuff that particularly graphic the end result ended up being pretty tame by Western standards. so what the heck does it have going for it? Well. For the most part, a pretty standard by-the-books plot I swear I’ve seen somewhere before….
Our story gets going as Mrs. Chew (played by Pearlly Chua), the mom of 3 daughters is forced to kill her husband after she discovers out that he has been abusing his daughters. Yep… although they don’t explicitly say it, yeah…. it’s that kind of abuse…. eeeewwwhhh! One nasty domestic abuse fight later and with hubby lying dead in a pool of blood, Mrs. Chew does the only thing she can do to dispose of the body. Yep. Chop him up and cook him into a batch of her restaurant’s famous curry. But that’s just an isolated thing, right? Nope… before long, one of her hubby’s sleazy gambling creditors comes by to collect on the money he’s owed. When he doesn’t get it, he suggests taking it out in trade with eldest daughter Xi Xi. Like that’s gonna happen…. Nope. He’s just another mean dumbass for the pot. On a positive note… this new “secret ingredient” turns out to be just the big hit with her customers that she needs to insure her ability to provide a living for her and her daughters from then on.
We jump ahead, and the girls all grow up, one by one slowly becoming as cruel and crazy as dear old Mom. Eldest daughter Xi Xi (now played by Debbie Goh) leads her sisters, becoming an alluring seductress using her beauty to lure unsuspecting Lotharios to the slaughter in the abattoir in the rear of the restaurant where middle sister Xi Yu (played by Mandy Chen) and the youngest Xi Mei (played by Olivia Kang) assist dear old Mom in the messy work of butchering and cooking their victims into delicious curry. By the time our story reaches it’s conclusion, both these two initially reluctant killers become as cold and sociopathic as their big sis.
That transformation forms the central part of the film, along with the machinations of a couple of TV con men, Master Chef Chow(played by Jeff Chin) and his assistant (played by Elvis Chin) as they try to steal away Mrs. Chew’s secret family recipe to allow Chef Chow to save his miserably failed restaurant chain and revive his flagging reputation as the greatest Curry Chef in Kuala Lumpur. Through it all, it’s obvious eldest daughter Xi Xi has been at the family’s horrid trade for too long… she’s not only cold and jaded, immune to the horrors she commits, but has actually come to realize she relishes her role in the gruesome slaughter enjoying the feelings of strength and power that it gives her. Her soul is gone… and her younger sisters now teeter on the edge of that same madness. Middle sister Xi Yu, has retreated into herself, shy and anguished by the blood and cruelty, she’s only too anxious to accept the romantic advances of shy handsome Dr. Cheong (played by Steve Yap) who seems genuinely attracted to her despite her crippled leg and social awkwardness. Can a pure innocent love save her from her life of horror? Ummmm…. it’s a horror movie, so probably not. 😉 Younger sister Xi Mei? Well, She’s a part time college student… so a forbidden school romance can give her the chance to escape, right? Ummmmm… yeah… really wouldn’t count on that one either.
Yeah. Mostly one can expect that basically we learn that “Family Comes First”. Anything else is just going to get in the way. Especially when bloody murder is on the menu.
Sounds like we should get some serious bloody mayhem too, doesn’t it? Yeah… but remember. It’s a Malay film. There are limits… even for those seeking to break boundaries. With that said, it’s not surprising that much of the bloodiest stuff occurs juuuussst out of frame, so to speak. Much of the sexy stuff is just talk… a little titillating inference and not all that truly graphic at all. Well… with one exception. There is one particularly nasty sequence in which Xi Xi sadistically tortures one of her victims culminating in a “Lorena Bobbitt” moment that probably had those Malay censors flipping their proverbial shit over. Yep. Can’t say I’ve seen all that many other penis severing scenes in Malay cinema, and trust me… this wee Catgirl’s seen more than a few Malay horror movies in her day.
So how do I rate this one? Well… truthfully I can’t honestly see what all the big deal was about “Banning” it. It’s just not all that particularly shocking… or bloody… or gory. The story? Hmmmm? Certainly ticks all the usual boxes. Nasty incest rape? Check. Cannibalism? Check. Plenty of “Sex & Death”? Yeah, it’s got that too. Body horror? Oh yes… it’s in there.
But that’s the problem. I’ve really seen all this before… and done with much more daring and flair. My feeling is that this one deserves a 3 “Meows” out of 5, and barely that. Mostly for actually trying to go to such a daring and exploitative place, even if ultimately it chickens out at the last moment. I guess we’ll have to keep looking to the Thais to give us the ultimate in gooey nasty horror fun. Oh well…
At least the Region 4 Australian DVD proved more than adequate for my needs. It’s widescreen… and uncut as best I can tell, with the more extreme “Foreign ending” rather than the original somewhat more tame one used for the one brief Malay TV release. (Yep… don’t know how, but this film actually did play for a brief time on one of the Malay TV channels. Pay TV? Maybe…. I’m not really sure. Any Gentle Visitors from Malaysia… feel free to enlighten a curious Catgirl. 😉 ) The whole thing is available direct from Australia for right around 20$ US. Worth a buy? Probably only if you are a goofy bad movie fanatic with a need to say you’ve seen every strange foreign horror movie ever made. Yeah… like me. 😉
Trailer? Yes… yes… C’mon now, Gentle Visitors… I’d never leave you without a lil’ nugget of video goodness to wrap things up, now would I? Perish the thought… 🙂