Human Lanterns directed by Sun Chung for Shaw Brother Studios in 1982

Human Lanterns is one of my favorite period piece kung fu-horror mashup movies that Charles Manson might even find appealing. This Shaw Brother studio film was released in 1982 directed by the great Sun Chung with the help of a legendary fight choreographer, Tang Chia. Human Lanterns mixes up great Chinese period piece costumes with awesome set design, off the meat rack kung fu display, & off the chain casting including Chen Kuan Tai (Bad ass Chinese version of Sonny Chiba), the great footwork of Lo Lieh, Sun Chien(played the scorpion in 5 deadly venoms), & a cameo appearance of Lo Meng (played the Toad in 5 deadly venoms). The premise of this movie is basically about two well to do kung fu scholars competing to see who can make the flyest Chinese Lantern for the annual Lantern Festival in ‘TimBuktoo’ China. The desperation to see who’s got the ‘biggest back’ has inspired one of the scholars to hire a passionate, underground Chinese Lantern maker played by Lo Lieh. Lo Lieh is the jekyl & Hyde character that posseses the spirit of Charles Manson. He plays the once burned, twice scarred role of a man that has been disrespected & deemed an outlaw in society, basically living in a souless body according to him. This apparition of a man finds his solitude in kidnapping, raping, & then skinning his beautiful female victims alive, before taking their ‘breath away’. What’s shocking is that Lo Lieh uses the freshly torn skin to make his unique creation, otherwise known as the Human Lantern. This Jekyl & Hyde figure looks similiar to Chewbacca from Star Wars that dons a skeleton mask. Chewy wreaks havoc on the village as he dispatches the young ladies while creating dissention between the 2 protaganists in the film. The action in the movie was bonkers as should be expected given the A+ cast & Tang Chia’s direction. Lo Meng’s character fought with a cool looking weapon that looked like dual tonfa’s, but with hooks on one end, & a secret latch that releases a blade on the other end! Lo Lieh played the psycho killer role to a tee as his martial skills shined through once again! I will spare you the details of the flick, but if you have the cajones, I recommend you martians to hang onto your skin, grab a bowl of freshly popped corn kernels, & go to town on this movie! The only thing that I would of loved to see or actually hear in ‘Human Lanterns’ would of been a score of music from the horror-punk genre! I think that would of added another off the wall element to an already off the wall movie. Hmmmmm, let me see…kung fu, horror, gore, & punk music! It’s a ten 10 ten 10 TEN!
–Mr. C (7 out of 10 skin grafts for Human Lanterns!)

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