Before I get started on Centipede Horror, I want to say a little something about the tone of this blog. Because it’s a new-ish year, I may have some new folks coming in. Perhaps you’ve resolved to read more crappy movie blogs this year, in which case, welcome! You’re here. I just want to say that it may seem to you that I only review movies I like, and that might make you not want to trust my opinion. It is true that I mostly review movies I like, but sometimes I will take one to task if I am particularly disappointed. The thing is, there are plenty of blogs out there trying to spin comedy straw into gold making fun of bad movies, but I’d rather be one of the voices who are shining a flattering light on the flawed but interesting movies of the world. So if you’re new here, it’s not that you can’t trust me because I like everything. It’s that you can’t trust me because I have bad taste. And with that, I give you Centipede Horror.
Centipede Horror is not a movie about a pervert who sews naive travelers ass to mouth. No, this is that old Hong Kong black magic that I can’t get enough of. At the beginning of the film, a young woman named Kay asks her brother Wai Lun, who evidently is the head of the family, if she can go on a group tour to Southeast Asia. Wai Lun says hell no, mom told us that grandpa said never to go to Southeast Asia. But Kay is just too persuasive for Wai Lun, and he relents, on one condition: she must wear this big ugly amulet and never take it off. They agree not to tell mom where she’s going, and she skips merrily away.
Once she gets to Southeast Asia, she’s out running with her friend when they come upon a weird old guy selling bowls of soup by the side of the road, so they stop jogging and drink a bowl of his mystery soup. He sees Kay’s amulet, and the angry light of recognition comes into his eyes! The amulet that was sent for protection is ironically what gets her in trouble, because this weird old guy is a black magician who saw something nasty in the woodshed, and Kay is Robert Post’s child. Or grandchild. See, the reason grandpa told the family never to go to Southeast Asia is because back in the day he burned down his whole village to cover up the fact that he had accidentally killed both his wife and his mistress. Only one person survived the fire, the soup magician!
So Kay is basically doomed. Soon after the meeting with the old guy, she and her friend go with the tour group to the exact place where the village was! Can you believe it? They leave the group to find a place to pee, and are attacked by a horde of centipedes! Kay’s friend drops dead of a heart attack right there, and Kay spends the rest of her short life disintegrating in a hospital bed. The doctors describe her mysterious illness as having the same effect as if the body had been exposed to radiation, but no one can explain why centipedes crawl out of her lesions at the moment of death. By the time she is in the hospital, Wai Lun and mom have found out what happened, and mom is pissed!
Wai Lun gets to Southeast Asia just in time to watch Kay die. Can Wai Lun, with the help of a girl he met in college in Canada who happens to live in Southeast Asia, break the curse before he too is killed? And does the actress who plays his college friend really put live centipedes in her mouth and spit them out at the climax of this movie! Did they pay her enough to look like she was vomiting centipedes? Maybe, yes, who knows?
I can forgive the coincidences in this movie, and the fact that we’re never given the name of a specific country to which these people have unfortunately traveled from Hong Kong. Centipede Horror does pretty much what it says on the box, and that’s enough for me. What I have a hard time forgiving is that if you search for this movie online, you will find reviews which sarcastically compare Centipede Horror to the works of such luminaries as Truffaut and Bergman. Centipede Horror is not the greatest movie in the world, or even the greatest movie in Hong Kong, but it doesn’t deserve mocking in the form of hyperbole either. Those reviews are written by people we commonly call “smartasses,” and they obviously have never seen a film stitched together by Godfrey Ho, if they think this is that bad.
Centipede Horror is your basic, middle-of-the-road black magic film. And yes, the fact that middle-of-the-road black magic horror is a thing means that there are a lot of these, mostly from the 70s and 80s, and I’ve only seen a few. Occasionally, someone even makes a new one, and it’s glorious. I watch them to see the battles between the magicians. Some of you may watch them to see something like a naked woman throwing up scorpions. You will find both of those things here. My only complaint, seriously, is that the magic battle in Centipede Horror isn’t long enough, because I just love that film flam shazam shit between the good and evil priests. So grab a can of Raid and watch this film!