Director: Meng Hua Ho
Screenplay: Kuang Ni
Starring: Ti Lung, Lieh Lo, Wei Tu Lin
Duration: 89 min
Country: Hong Kong
BBFC Certification: 18
Shaw Brothers are synonymous with Hong Kong exploitation films of the 60s and 70s, most famously for their kung fu films. However, they also produced a large number of horror films. 1975’s Black Magic is their most famous and it was quickly followed up the following year with Black Magic 2. Having recently seen the first, I was keen to watch its sequel.
The film starts off in a rural village that is situated on the banks of a muddy brown river. Here peasant girls are swimming in the water until a crocodile enters and attacks and kills one of the girls. The village witch doctor soon catches the crocodile, kills it and guts it finding an amulet belonging to the dead girl. This serves as an introduction to the old man who reappears later in the film.
The rest of Black Magic 2 is set in Hong Kong, where we firstly enter a disco and are introduced to a man who is enamoured with a dancer. Unfortunately for him, she leaves with someone else. The girl turns out to be a zombie that is controlled by the black magician Kang Cong (Lieh Lo). It turns out that Kang has a dungeon of corpses that he turns into zombies by hammering long nails into their heads, which not only animates them but makes them appear youthful and attractive. He uses these zombies to dupe lovelorn men who pay him to cast love spells on women who have spurned their advances.
The heroes of the film are two doctors, played by Ti Lung and Wei Tu Lin, who have opposing views about an outbreak of strange medical disorders – including men covered in puss filled sores and worms under their skins and young women that are aborting monstrous mutant foetuses. Wei is convinced that black magic is to blame, while Ti Lung is more level headed and believes there is a scientific explanation. The two are soon pulled into Kang Cong’s world after he casts on spell on Wei’s wife. It appears that every time he casts a spell he loses five years of his life, so to stay young he needs to drink human milk daily. Wei’s wife fulfils this role, after she is enchanted by drinking a solution Kang prepares from her pubic hair (yes, really!).
The plot just gets more and more preposterous as the film moves on leading to a truly bonkers finale which includes a kung fu fight on top of cable cars, hopping zombies and our hero, Ti Lung, eating eyeballs to gain magical sight. Director, Meng Hua Ho really does have a flair for over the top action.
Black Magic 2 has it all – zombies, sex, nudity, flared trousers, fuzz guitar funk soundtrack and lurid sets. It also has a great villain in Kang Cong, a suave sorcerer channelling his inner Blofeld, often seen cradling a Siamese cat. It’s certainly not the most over the top Shaw Brothers horror film, but it’s perhaps one of the most cohesive – following a mostly western style of storytelling, at times resembling a Hammer film. It has everything you can ask for in a 70s Hong Kong horror film and is far superior to its predecessor.
Black Magic 2 is released on Blu-ray by 88 Films and includes the following extras:
Audio Commentary by Film Journalist Ian Jane
Limited Edition first pressing booklet notes by Calum Waddell