In the Mood for Gore: Grady Hendrix Talks About Alamo Brooklyn's First Retrospective Event This Weekend
You live in and around Brooklyn, NY, and fate has dealt you a bum hand and you have no plans for the Halloween weekend. You need to get yourself to the newly opened Alamo Brooklyn and feast your eyes and your soul on their first retrospective program, In The Mood For Gore.
An all-35mm Asian horror extravaganza co-presented by Subway CinemaIn the Mood for Gore14 years ago, Subway Cinema unleashed the first In the Mood for Gore on unsuspecting New Yorkers in a now-legendary, mind-shattering series of screenings. Now...it’s baaaack! Prepare yourself for a roller coaster ride of high caliber thrills, grue-covered chills, and epic body fluid spills as we show you why nobody is as insane in the membrane as Hong Kong filmmakers in their prime. Sometimes you’re in the mood to get funky, sometimes you’re in the mood for love, but this October get in the mood for gore with some of Hong Kong’s most infamous sense shockers and hard rockers.
Co-presented by Subway Cinema, In The Mood For Gore features six nefarious HK Cinema cult gems presented on 35mm: A Day Without Policeman, Intruder, Eternal Evil of Asia, Human Lanterns, Love to Kill and Seeding of a Ghost.
ScreenAnarchy chatted with Subway Cinema's Grady Hendrix about this upcoming event.
ScreenAnarchy - The introduction to the program states that the first Mood for Gore happened fourteen years ago. Has this been an annual event since then? Of this year's lineup how many are first-timers and which films have been screened in New York before?
Grady Hendrix - We did In the Mood for Gore way back then in 2002 and it burned the paint off the walls of the theater. I don’t think we’ve ever had a retrospective that freaked so many people out. Because of its highly hazardous nature, we’ve never done it again. Until now.
SA - When people purchase tickets for screenings online they have the option to purchase a ticket that will also support the American Genre Film Archive
GH - Preserving Hong Kong’s film culture has always been the job of individual fans. Four of these prints exist because we helped AGFA rescue a huge haul of prints from a distributor who was about to junk them many years ago. And two of them exist because of an intrepid fan who rescued them from a theater that was about to be torn down. Hong Kong movies have always relied on fans to advocate for them, and as more and more of Hong Kong’s cinematic past goes down the drain it’s the freaks and the fans who are clinging to these prints and making sure that something survives. Giving a few bucks to AGFA so they can keep doing this is a way that you can make a difference. Coming to these screenings to show there’s an audience for these movies is a way you can make a difference. Honestly, the number of people who care about these fabulous movies is small, so an individual action can easily have a big impact.
SA - What can folks expect from this year's lineup? If someone were to ask you what to expect from each film (excessive gore, sexuality, scares, action etc)
GH - We’ve got two flavors of Shaw Brothers: Human Lanterns is fabulous, lush martial arts moviemaking with a grindhouse edge that is actually pretty scary. Seeding of a Ghost is straight up disgusting horror and worm eating that is totally repulsive. If you want tense, traumatic, legitimately bleak filmmaking, then Intruder and Love to Kill are your options. And if you’re in it for over-the-top insanity and ridiculous levels of gleeful mayhem that goes great with a few beers, then A Day Without Policeman and Eternal Evil of Asia are your new best friends.
SA - Do you have any personal favorites in the lineup? If there are one or two films that attendees cannot miss this year what are they?
GH - The one that means the most to me is Eternal Evil of Asia. My wife and I moved to Hong Kong back in 1995 because we loved the movies. We had a hell of a time getting jobs, finding a place to live, and we didn’t know if it was going to work out. Adding insult to injury, every time we scraped together enough money to see a Hong Kong movie we wound up with a total dud: Love Guns and Glass. Legendary Couple. Thunderbolt. Things looked grim. Then, one Sunday, we were walking through Yau Ma Tei and saw a poster for Eternal Evil of Asia and we figured, “Okay, we’ll give it a try.” 90 minutes later we were so jazzed. It was everything we ever wanted in a movie. We wound up staying for almost two years, and it was the greatest time in our lives. And Eternal Evil of Asia is what turned it around. To me, this is the ultimate date movie.
SA - Can you speak on the legacy of the directors of each film? One only has to look and see that some of them were more prolific as writers; Kan-Cheung Tsang (as a writer) Gwing-Gai 'Johnny' Lee (writer). The others flourished as directors Man Kei Chin (Sex and Zen II), Chung Sun (Director) and Siu-Hung 'Billy' Chung ((Director) Krik Wong also has a credit on IMDB) and Chuan Yang (Director)
GH - These movies are not going to be the first in line to get preserved by anyone because they’re horror movies, designed to play for audiences for a week or two, pay back their investors, and be forgotten. But the people who worked on them are some of the best B-movie craftsmen in Hong Kong. These were technicians who were used to working fast, delivering a solid script, and knowing how to push the audience’s buttons. Of course, Human Lanterns is the exception because it comes from probably one of the best, and most underrated, directors at Shaw, Sun Chung, and it’s written by Ni Kuang who was THE Shaw Brothers writer (something like 200 movies). But the force behind A Day Without Policeman is Johnny Lee Kwing-Kai who’s a solid, B-list director and writer. Love to Kill is written by the innovative Cat III chronicler of urban dread, Law Kam-fai, who also wrote Untold Story, Dr. Lamb, and Gangs, which are the foundational scripts in that genre. Then he went on to do some police procedurals including the pivotal The Case of the Cold Fish and the very freaky and upsetting Twist. Cash Chin is the sewer-dwelling genius writer-director behind Eternal Evil of Asia and he’s got a ton of sleazy but fantastically imaginative movies in his filmography like the queasy-making The Fruit is Swelling, (and its sequel, The Fruit is Ripe), posh porn flick Sex & Chopsticks, and he was assistant director on a bunch of great exploitation films like Ghostly Vixen, Ultimate Vampire, and Raped By an Angel. Weirdly enough, the director of Intruder had written a bunch of solid movies in Hong Kong before Intruder, like Magic Cop, Royal Warriors, and My Heart is That Eternal Rose, but after Intruder he became Stephen Chow’s go-to guy for writing comedies: Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle, The Mermaid. I don’t know how that happened!
SA - The audience will also get their fare share of Hong Kong acting royalty this weekend, including Simon Yam and Anthony Wong. Who else can they expect to see?
GH - There are three performances in these films that cannot be topped. One is Anthony Wong in Love to Kill playing the most repugnant abusive husband ever put on film in the kind of freaky, go-for-broke performance that he used to specialize in delivering. The other is Wu Chien-lien giving what I think is the performance of her career in Intruder. It’s like every cold-blooded, ice-in-her-veins femme fatale from decades of film noir filmmaking got churned into a giant smoothie of evil and Wu Chien-lien chugged it down before the cameras rolled. Totally remorseless. Finally, there’s whatever Shaw Brothers stuntman plays the skull-faced monkey killer in Human Lanterns. He just keeps coming, and coming, and coming. Sheer nightmare fuel.
SA - How great is it to be a part of the first ever retrospective event at the new Alamo in Brooklyn?
GH - I feel sorry for the Alamo Drafthouse. The fact that the first 35mm print to run through their projector will be the gooper-ific Seeding of a Ghost just means that by the time this weekend is over their projection booth, their projectionists, and all their seats will be seeded. With evil.