Science! Real and Imagined
And You Call Yourself a Scientist! Home | Index

A SPECIAL Succubare (1981)

I was mulling over your OCR survey, when I realized I'd completely forgotten about the most hideous excuse for Comic Relief I've ever seen. I'd blocked it out of my memory, for reasons that will become all too clear…. Tonight it came back to me while I was eating dinner. Eurrgh. If you haven't eaten dinner yet yourself, you might want to postpone reading any further.

There is a terrible Chinese horror/kung-fu film from the 1970's, known on US video as Succubare (for reasons that I will never understand; probably the distributor hoped audiences ignorant of Latin would think it was pronounced "suck-you-bare", and come expecting a completely different kind of movie). It's a turgid melodrama about a family of idiots who seduce and abandon women in a mysterious village of snake people. When these guys abandon their conquests and go back to the city, they find themselves cursed. One turns into a Western-style vampire and later explodes in a welter of insects.… another is poisoned or something.... So the last surviving brother goes with his equally stupid friends into the distant land of the snake people, where -- GASP! -- it's the women who rule the men. The horror. A little lame kung-fu, much melodrama, and one ox slaughtered & skinned on-screen later, the movie goes through a ridiculous denouement and ends totally unsatisfactorily. It would be just another forgettable flick, if not for.…the Village Idiot, in my opinion the world's vilest Comic Relief.

The Village Idiot appears at the very beginning, and at various periods through the film. It's not clear who he's supposed to be, or if he's even related to the plot. His function is apparently analogous to that of the gravedigger in Hamlet, or the gatekeeper in Macbeth….providing a sort of comic commentary on the things that are happening in the main story. Unlike Shakespeare's clowns, though, he doesn't comment with words. He grins at the camera a lot, and provides the Light Comic Interludes by tearing small living things apart with his teeth. Really: in loving close-up. He starts with a snake, then goes on to bugs, frogs…. When he got to the mouse, I had to leave the room. I was sick with the memory for a month thereafter.

I submitted a comment to the IMDB on this dreadful movie a long while back, in which I dreamed up some explanation of what the Village Idiot was doing in the picture….an excuse, of course; anything to just deal with it and get the images out of my head. It worked for a while, but for some reason the memory came boiling back to the surface of my mind tonight. I think that's the most reprehensible excuse for entertainment I can remember. It's like they called to send in the clowns, and got the Geek instead. Sickening. I dare anybody to come up with worse "comic relief" than this.

I'm sorry I even brought it up, but... well, you did ask!

----Will Laughlin (http://www.braineater.com)