A rich Hong Kong family learns that money can’t buy sanity when one of the daughters-in-law buys a vase with an incubus living in it. Her husband has been working in Japan for six months, and boy is he surprised when he comes home and finds her having relations with the vase demon in their bed! But not as surprised as he is when he breaks the vase, causing his face to burn off and become covered in worms before he falls out the window to his death. His wife soon follows him into that goodnight, and her corpse soon turns out to be pregnant with the titular Devil Fetus. It’s okay though, because the family’s favorite Taoist priest has some of those little yellow pieces of paper with red writing on them that the One Eyebrow Priest from Mr. Vampire always uses. He puts them on the unfortunate couple’s death shrine, with instructions to the rest of the extended family to leave those pieces of paper the hell alone.
Of course, if they followed the instructions, there wouldn’t be much of a movie, since all that happens in the first ten minutes. Luckily for us, twelve years later, the unfortunate decedents’ two bratty nephews are now horny teenagers, and the dead aunt’s goddaughter comes to visit. I thought at this point that she would be the new devil vessel. But no, it’s just that she and the older brother go up to the forbidden shrine room and move those yellow pieces of paper around! This misbehavior causes the younger brother to get possessed, and all kinds of glorious disgusting things happen like a party guest eating wormy cake, the possessed kid snacking on the family dog, and the father’s death by sauna. Remember, if you are a character in a horror movie, and you are anywhere near a sauna, stay out of it! You will die, fast, and you will not leave a good-looking corpse.
Hong Kong exploitation films are the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen. Literally each and every one of them are simultaneously the most interesting movie in the world. That is the magic of Hong Kong film. But it’s not often that I understand the metaphorical message that one of these movies is trying to convey. Usually I’m just thinking, “Cool, someone is throwing up worms. I hope the sorcerers fight each other soon!” In this case, I can tell you for certain that Devil Fetus is not a story about what happens if you cheat on your husband with a coitus demon, but instead is a cautionary tale about the horror of living with spoiled children.
When we first meet the two young brothers, they are wrestling all over the living room, way past bedtime. When their aunt, her vase, and their grandmother come home, they give the two little darlings a lifetime supply of chocolate and send them to their room. Later, when they are grown, one of them awakens the demon by doing the one thing in their over-privileged lives they are told not to do. Then the other guy gets possessed and tries to drown his brother’s new girlfriend, and his grandmother gets angry with the older brother for trying to smack some sense into the little would-be murderer. Later, when the possessed kid is caught raping and murdering the maid, everyone in the family stands outside the door reluctant to break in. Wouldn’t want to be too harsh! Finally, the grandmother contacts the Taoist priest for help, but when she finds out his spell will hurt her grandson as well as the demon, she sabotages the priest’s magic. And this is after a real live eagle had to die for the ceremony! She tries to fix her mistake at the end, but I don’t even understand what happens in the last three minutes of the film. I can tell you this: it was damn weird, and probably would not have happened if these folks had ever given those two boys so much as a time out, let alone a good swat!
I’d seen Devil Fetus before, several years ago, but somehow all I remembered is that there were some rich people and a gross cake. I don’t know what was wrong with me back then, but when I re-watched last week, I found it to be an experience I won’t soon forget. And you won’t either, even if you have to watch it in Cantonese. Be sure to listen out for some American horror music that was borrowed, and let me know if you figure out what movie it was borrowed from. It’s Devil Fetus trivia!