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油鬼子 (1976)
Oily Maniac

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/31/2007
Summary: Oil be back...

It must have seemed like a great idea at the time: a sort of superhero-cum-monster movie set in Malaysia with lots and lots of topless ladies and the shark theme from Jaws. The title alone sold it for me – any film called OILY MANIAC is a must-have as far as I’m concerned. Danny Lee plays the eponymous Maniac – a polio victim who gains his powers when his mentor, shortly before his execution for murder, gives him the key to superhuman powers. All he has to do is dig a hole in his own house (which is built upon some kind of bewitched ground) and the magical oil will bestow its power. What it boils down to is this: if he covers himself head to toe in oil (of any kind), he becomes an invincible killing machine. He can switch between two forms at will: an oil slick (great for sliding along the ground or ceiling and slipping into the tiniest of cracks) or a more-or-less human form (great for throttling his victims). The Maniac then goes on a killing rampage righting the wrongs he sees in his everyday life as a clerk in a solicitor’s office.

I’ve just reread that plot synopsis and realised I’ve just made OILY MANIAC sound a hell of a lot more exciting than it really is. It tries to be both a superhero movie (the monster is kind of like THE INCREDIBLE HULK in a way, and the mild-mannered Danny Lee character is like any number of superhero alter-ego average Joes) and a horror film. It doesn’t really achieve either thanks largely to some terrible – and I do mean terrible – special effects. Plus, it’s about as scary as an episode of Postman Pat. The oil slick effect wouldn’t fool a five year old today, and it probably didn’t look too convincing back then, either. As for the human form of the Maniac – well, it’s a guy in a (badly made) rubber suit. Add to this the blatant ripping-off of the JAWS theme whenever the Maniac is about to appear, and it all makes for one hell of a wacko experience. Actually, if it wasn’t for this piece of music popping up all over the place, I’d swear this was a lot older than 1976 – if not for the effects, then for the fashions which seem more like they’re from the late sixties or early seventies to me.

As you might expect, all this results in some unintentional comedy and an overall campy feel to the film. Which is just as well, because the rest of it is a complete write-off. The morality of the film seems a little skewed, too, and some of the plot doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. I think the crew probably thought that if you throw enough topless ladies and rape scenes in, you could disguise the film’s shortcomings. This is probably the most “breasty” Hong Kong film I’ve seen, although I’m sure it can’t hold a candle to Cat III films (of which I haven’t seen any, Officer, I swear). The action scenes involving the Maniac aren’t too bad, though, but you can never get past the fact that it’s a man in a rubber suit. The film’s conclusion was more than a tad predictable, too.

OILY MANIAC is not so much a B-Movie as a C-Movie, but is entertaining enough in its camp way. I also strongly suspect it would play well in front of a post-pub male audience.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: sharkeysbar
Date: 05/05/2007
Summary: Oily or just cheesy?

The Oily Maniac, a fantastic title for a movie, suits this 1976 "horror" film, that plays sometimes like a comedy. It is set in Malaysia, maybe due to cheap palm oil?
Danny Lee plays the lead, mild mannered by day, oily deliverer of justice by night.
The story is just silly but enjoyable, it has a bit of everything thrown in from comedy, drama, horror (well attempted horror ok), morality lesson, romance.
I felt it never really hit any of these targets, it just sort of flowed along (forgive the pun) and had so many inconsistencies that they become amusing.
I did enjoy it and it had me chuckling a few times, but I still felt it was just ok. In places it was a bit coarse, but that may have more to do with the years it was made.
One thing that puzzled me about the maniac, was the variety of materials he could use to get oily, palm oil, diesel, boiling road pitch (!!) are all ok, but I can't figure out what bubbled up from under his floor when he dug a hole? Oh well I guess I'll never know, hehe. Worth a watching but maybe once is enough.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: andras
Date: 09/20/2003
Summary: A Shaw Bros oddity

if BAD monster movies are part of your cinematic culture,then OILY MANIAC belongs to your collection right next to the special edition of BLOB, THE STUFF and The Troma Team Classics.
The opening tells You that it is based on a folk tale and the film was shot in Malaysia. The soundtrack kicks in and a green slimy goo of a monster comes out along with the main title THE OILY MANIAC !
The story is very basic "revenge of the creature" type mixed with elements of BLACK MAGIC (shot at the same time,probably back to back). Danny Lee plays this cripple character working for an evil lawyer's firm. His old man gets the chair (or rope) because of this sleazy lawyer and on his last day before the execution he tells him about a secret Black Magic ritual which will enable Danny to protect pretty Chen Ping from further harassment. He has to dig a hole in the middle of the house where he finds an oil-well. He says a few prayers and dives into the oil. Out comes the monster already introduced during the opening credits.
Looking between a cross of MELTING MAN and MONSTER IN THE CLOSET it can jump on top of the buildings and cars like some wuxia hero from hell (the action is credited to Clan member Yuen Cheung Yan). He can also turn into an oil-slick chasing cars and sliding into houses under the doors(to the tune of JAWS music). When Danny (in normal mode) feels angry he just heads to the nearest gas-station and pumps oil on himself (Diesel seems to be his favourite) and turns into this thing.
There is a lot of nudity and little gore,although one head-crushing scene would make the Toxic Avenger stand up and take notice. All the creature and optical effects are poor. There is a suprising amount of filler but the monster-attack scenes make up for the slower spots. They are all hilarious.
Chen Ping(from KISS OF DEATH)stands out from the cast,she gets raped twice the poor thing. The rest of the actors are barely competent (and that include Danny Lee I'm afraid).
Technically inept,but nevertheless entertaining, OILY MANIAC is an interesting curio for Monster-movie fans.

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003

When Western viewers think of the Shaw Brothers studio, the old-school kung fu genre comes to mind. However, they didn't become Hong Kong's biggest studio by making martial arts films alone, as evidenced by this production starring a very young Danny Lee, who at this point in his career actually played something other than cops. He appears here as a lawyer crippled by polio whose uncle is framed for murder. Before he dies, the uncle gives Danny a secret spell that will give the user nearly unlimited power by turning them into an oil-covered monster. Danny begins using the power to take revenge for those wronged by the crooked law firm he works for, but soon the "oily maniac" takes over, and Danny finds it harder to stop killing.

This is a pretty cool idea that is ultimately let down by the movie's low budget and cheap special effects. The oily maniac just doesn't look all that menacing -- it's just really obviously a guy in a rubber suit -- and the attempts to show the fluid nature of the monster (being able to turn into a pool of oil, grow back limbs, etc.) are laughably bad. However, there is a good deal of boobs and blood to keep things moving along, and the actors for the most part do a good job, which helps keep a serious tone and keeps the film from sliding down into cheeseville. Oily Maniac isn't likely the most terrifying movie you'll ever see -- in fact, it probably won't even give you a cheap scare -- but it is a fun and unique picture that's well worth a look, especially if you want to see what Danny Lee did before he hit it big with films like The Killer.